Part 1: What I do
How I describe my job in 10 words
Empowering future leaders for liberty with knowledge and skills to succeed
My day-to-day at work…in three sentences
I collaborate with teams across Charles Koch Institute (CKI) and Charles Koch Foundation (CKF )to oversee and execute on the Koch Internship Program and the Koch Fellow Program. During the programs, I am lucky enough to work with some of the most passionate and excited individuals that come to DC to advance liberty. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with the interns and fellows to help give them the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful pursuing a career in the ideas.
I couldn’t do my job without
Given the highly collaborative nature of my role, I could never do my job without the incredible staff here at CKI and CKF.
Most important moment in my career (so far)
Executing on the first KSFP class at CKI. I have never met such an phenomenal group of people before and they will always be my first class during my time here on the educational programs team!
Unexpected skill that has helped me the most
I would have to say interpersonal skills. I go to a lot of networking events and happy hours on top of executing on the programs. To be successful during those events you really have to put yourself out there, meet new people, and make genuine connections. It’s also helpful to have a more holistic view of what is going on at other organizations to help advise the interns and fellows on opportunities.
The best advice I have received
Gain a reputation early in your career for getting things done.
Part 2: Politics
The biggest change I’ve seen already in politics
I think the current drug policy changes are really exciting. It’s surprisingly refreshing to see these states understand that prohibition and the war on drugs is failing and that they are taking steps to remedy the rampant over-criminalization occurring in communities.
The element of working in politics that most surprised me
Since I work with ideas, I think the thing that is most surprising to me are the issues that bridge both sides and the work we can get done when that happens. Issues like cronyism, over-criminalization, and foreign policy have recently brought together people all across the spectrum to start discussing realistic solutions. Obviously, the path to change is slow but the glimmer of hope through conversation is encouraging.
The most important issue many don’t see yet
I believe occupational licensing is a huge limit on liberty, but it’s a hard concept to explain and motive people to take action on. Also, given that it occurs almost exclusively at the state level, it’s not something that is easy to have a national dialogue on. Organizations like the Institute for Justice have been doing great work in this area for years and I’d love to see more organizations jump on this issue!
Where I think the movement will be in five years
I want to think the movement will not have to be referred to as the movement five years from now. Individual liberty and free-market solutions will become some readily accepted by the general public that liberty will just be.
How I formed my political beliefs
Most may be surprised to know that I used to be a pretty hard-core democrat (I’m talking VP of college dems) because social issues were what was most important to me. John Elliot at IHS took a chance on me once and invited me to the Journalism and a Free Society hosted by IHS in the summer of 2009. It was the first time I had been introduced to Austrian economics. Over the course of the week, more and more market solutions started to make sense. I left the seminar, resigned from my position in college democrats, and worked with a clutch group of friends back at Ashland and Students For Liberty to start an SFL chapter. I continued exploring the ideas of classical liberalism and it was all uphill from there!
Part 3: The next generation
What I’d say to my 18-year-old self
Take an economics course.
Skill or experience I’d recommend students get now
The void for talent in the liberty world is fading fast. We are lucky to see lots of smart and talented students hoping to gain a career advancing liberty. Given that, the biggest gap I’ve seen is basic professionalism. It seems a lot of students are sacrificing the basics such as solid writing skills and general professional etiquette in exchange for more niche skills in the career they are hoping to seize.
Three things I’d tell every young political junkie to read
Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson
Bastiat’s The Law
Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America
My most useful class in college
I would probably have to say Constitutional Law with Dr. Sikkenga my senior year. This class helped me apply a lot of theoretical concepts I had learned earlier in my undergraduate career to real court cases and conflicts with the constitution. I believe it is critically important to understand the foundational and interdisciplinary framework of classical liberalism. This allows individuals to apply these principles consistently in any current policy debate. It was constitutional law that helped me personally understand this and develop the lens of which I analyze debates.
Three future leaders from my generation
Anna Ridge, Educational Programs Manager here at CKI- she has an incredible passion for liberty of course, but also for developing talent in young professionals to succeed. I don’t think there is a single person out there as passionate and dedicated to program management as Anna. It’s really empowering to work with her every day.
Kelsey Drapkin, currently a Hillsdale Senior- she has quite a few liberty internships under her belt at such a young age (Franklin Center, Glenn Beck, and CKI). She is one of the most driven, action-oriented, and principled students I have met in a long time.
Julia Morriss, graduating in December from American University- she is incredibly intelligent and has interned at IHS, IJ, Cato, GW Regulatory studies Center and more! She just locked down her first full time role as Research Assistant for Cato’s new Center on Monetary and Financial Alternatives.
Part 4: Me, personally
The most fascinating figure in world history
Shoeless Joe Jackson from the 1919 Chicago Black Sox Scandal.
My heroes in fiction
Not to be swept up in the Hunger Games and Divergent craze, but pretty much all I read in my spare time is post-apocalyptic dystopian novels. I love the concept of utter tyrannical failure and independent communities coming together to solve problems. My favorite would have to be the Moon is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein so I’d say Mannie, Professor de la Paz, and Mycroft Holmes would top my heroes in fiction list.
The most inspiring art I’ve read, seen, or heard
Would putting Moon is A Harsh Mistress down here again be considered a cop out?
I’d star in House of Cards or West Wing (choose one)
House of Cards because Kevin Spacey is amazing… and I’ve never seen the West Wing.
I can’t get through my day without
At least one large unsweetened ice tea with lemon from Dunkin Donuts.
Why I think America’s Future Foundation is important
AFF is incredibly important because it provides an exciting yet comfortable place for like-minded professionals to gather, learn, and network. Especially when someone is just starting out here, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot to pass up on getting involved with AFF.
Patti Simpson is director of political and career services at the Leadership Institute.