Patti Simpson is the Director of Career Programs at the Leadership Institute (as well as an AFF blog contributor). During her early days at the Leadership Institute, she served as the Deputy Director of Grassroots, where she was responsible for identifying, recruiting and training conservative leaders and activists around the country.
Patti Simpson is commonly known as the person that “everybody knows.” In fact, you could say that everyone in the Liberty Movement is connected by “six degrees of Patti Simpson.”
- When did you first become involved with America’s Future Foundation? What are your earliest AFF memories?
The first event I attended was the Gala in 2011. Shortly before the Gala, I entered into a new role at LI that didn’t require as much travel as my previous position and I wanted to strengthen my relationships with people who worked in the movement in DC – and AFF was the place to start. I have two strong memories from that night that tend to be brought up whenever I see the two people in the stories. The first was meeting and chit-chatting most of the night with Katie Pavlich. The only problem was, I thought her name was Jen, so I kept calling her that the rest of the night. She finally said, “who is Jen?! I’m Katie!” I said, “well, do you know my name?” She admitted that she also forgot, we had a great laugh, and I’ve been friends with “Jatie” ever since. I guess you can say that AFF creates an environment where perfect strangers can get together and become friends.
- What is the nature of your work with Leadership Institute?
As the Director of Career Programs I am the head of a great team of people and services designed to help conservative jobseekers become the best candidates they can be and for recruiters to find them. A majority of my time is spent networking and getting to know the hiring processes of organizations throughout the movement and to stay up to date on what every industry is looking for in qualified candidates. We provide hundreds of personalized career consultations throughout the year and have a great website where talent connects with recruiters at www.conservativejobs.com. We also hold many career-focused trainings and we run, in my opinion, the greatest intern program on the right.
- What advice would you give to someone just starting out in DC?
Don’t be so committed to your goals that you fail to recognize opportunities. I’ve spent so much time with young people who have such tunnel vision when it comes to their career that they will only take that “dream job.” I’ve got news for you; that dream job may change and you should be open to it. The key is finding what you’re passionate about and also what you’re good at and then figuring out what career is at that intersection.
- Who influenced you? Who are your heroes?
These questions always make me tear up a little. My dad taught me about hard work, substance, and picking myself up after failure and getting back in the game. “McDonald’s is always hiring” and “you’re destined to do something great” are two things he told me. So, anyone who wonders where my inflated sense of self comes from, blame my dad. My aunts worked very hard at making sure I had an inappropriate sense of humor – I’m pretty sure they succeeded. As for people who influence me, the list is entirely too long. My friends, my supervisors, coworkers, strangers, the Humans of New York facebook page – you name it and it’s influencing me somehow!
- What books are on your “must read” list for young people?
“The Law” by Bastiat is what turned me from being a Republican, with no real philosophy backing it up, to a conservative. I remember getting so riled up reading about plunder and being livid at the idea – and reality – of it. I would also say you should read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s just the greatest book in regards to understanding human motivation.
- Why is AFF important?
AFF provides opportunities for individuals to become a group. Whether it’s a Welcome to Washington event, speed-networking, or a crab fest, they have so many unique events designed to bring liberty-minded people together to bond, share stories, and forge ahead in the movement.
- What qualities do you think make a great leader?
It really depends on the situation. At times you need a strong hand while other times you need a softer approach. I suppose that means a leader should be adaptable. Confidence is key, as well as a sense of humor. Oh, and they should be tall. And preferably a woman. And really like Neil Diamond and the Red Sox. At this point, I’m just describing myself.
- What are the biggest gaps in the liberty movement today?
Liberals are so good at using emotion to connect with voters. I think there is a real deficit of talent on the right of people who can take our logical stances on the issues and tell a meaningful story that wins over more of the electorate. As a movement, we need to identify our people who can harness the gift of emotional storytelling and have them be our messengers. It’s amazing how much a person can be persuaded by an adjustment in the words we use.
Seneca Gates is an America’s Future Foundation intern.