Ashbrook Board Welcomes Experience and Ideas of Scholar Alum Mindy McLaughlin
December 24, 2020
Mindy McLaughlin has joined Ashbrook’s Board as its alumni representative. A 2001 graduate of the Scholar program, McLaughlin pursued a political career after graduation. She worked on George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential election campaign, afterwards serving on the White House staff. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State and in the office of Governor John Kasich. In 2011 she transitioned into business, joining the staff of JobsOhio.
Would you describe your current work?
JobsOhio is Ohio’s privatized economic development corporation. We were created by the state legislature in 2011, when Governor Kasich came into office. Our board of directors is drawn from the business sector, and we are funded with the profits, leased to us for 25 years, from state-run liquor sales, allowing us to promote business in Ohio without spending taxpayer dollars.
We help companies considering expanding or opening operations in Ohio. Cultivating deep and wide relationships with industries headquartered here and elsewhere, we use both financial and non-financial incentives to help them accomplish their goals by investing in Ohio and hiring Ohioans.
During the recession of 2008-2009, Ohio lost about 400,000 private sector jobs. Helped by Governor Kasich’s pro-business policies, we’ve regained these jobs and now have a lower level of unemployment than before the recession. It’s been exciting to help encourage this private-sector growth.
How did your Ashbrook education prepare you for your career?
My Ashbrook education taught me both soft and technical skills that I’ve used in every job I’ve tackled. For example, I practiced writing clear, grammatical prose every day while I was an Ashbrook Scholar. Today I have no problem translating a complicated issue into an easily understood memo. I also became comfortable with public speaking. My political science seminars taught me to defend a position. Like all Scholars, I defended a lengthy thesis my senior year, standing up before an audience to present my work and answer questions about it. I met and publicly introduced a Major Issues Lecture Series speaker, a rare opportunity for a college student.
Much is expected of Ashbrook Scholars. Half-hearted responses to seminar questions won’t do. One is constantly challenged: “Why do you think that?” Because it’s a small program, you see your professors all the time and don’t want to disappoint them.
Did your education help shape your political convictions?
I always knew what my political convictions were, but the great texts gave me important insights. Churchill gave me a model for persisting despite adversity. Aristotle, Locke, Lincoln—even Machiavelli—showed me how politics is rooted in the nature of man and helped me recognize human motives I deal with every day.
Ashbrook’s goals are lofty. The Scholar program pushes students to realize their full humanity while understanding what it means to be a free citizen of America. But it also teaches essential skills. Employers won’t say, “I’ll hire you because you’re a more fully realized human being.” They hire graduates who understand workplace expectations and are comfortable meeting them.
You don’t want the first time you wear a suit to be at your job interview; you want to own that look beforehand. As an undergrad, I had a closet full of suits because of the events Scholars attend. We were given an etiquette class, then assigned to luncheon tables with adult members of the community who asked us about what we were studying. Conversing in this setting was a huge character-building experience.
What do you hope to contribute as alumni representative to the Ashbrook Board?
I hope to help Ashbrook communicate with alumni about its current programs, which have expanded greatly since I was an undergrad. When I was a Scholar, only ten students were admitted to the program each year; now the program is triple that size. Since my graduation, Ashbrook has added a Masters program for secondary school social studies teachers. All of this is encouraging to hear about! Alumni can in turn help Ashbrook. They might serve as mentors to Scholars or help arrange internships for them. They might identify interesting speakers for an Ashbrook lecture series. We can use alumni as a sounding board for ideas that will further build the program.
Ashbrook is pleased to have Mindy McLaughlin join our board as alumni representative. Her ideas and in-depth knowledge of the scholar program will greatly benefit our alumni outreach efforts and the skills and expertise gained through her education and professional career make her a tremendous asset as we continue to grow our programs.