Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He is a busy man, full of passion for what he does. He is truly a champion in advancing liberty; his work is a testament to that.
A career to be proud of
Before Shapiro began his career at Cato he was involved with a myriad of other organizations.
I am an alumnus of Princeton University, the London School of Economics, and the University of Chicago Law School. Before joining Cato, I worked as a special assistant/advisor to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule of law issues and practiced international, political, commercial, and antitrust litigation at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb—two big law firms. I’ve been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School and, before entering private practice, I clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. I am now a member of the Legal Studies Institute’s board of visitors at The Fund for American Studies, and was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute,
When asked why he chose to pursue a career in advancing liberty he had this say,
I was born in Moscow, Russia, when that was the Soviet Union. My parents, who were engineers, moved our family to Canada because they didn’t want me growing up in that environment. I was taught from a very early age that communism was an awful thing. After reading the likes of John Locke, the Federalist Papers, and Ayn Rand, it was clear that my passion aligned with the ideal of advancing liberty. I became involved with IHS—including as a Koch Summer Fellow, when I interned at CEI—during college, the Institute of Economic Affairs when I was in London, then the Federalist Society in law school, and away we went.
The Importance of AFF
I became involved with AFF as soon as I moved to DC more than eight years ago, attending panel discussions, happy hours, and all the other events AFF has to offer. I love being surrounded by a world of ideas and people who care about them; I’ve met friends, mentors, mentees, and even the occasional date at these events. I was also given the opportunity to write for Doublethink and sit on several panels.
Right place, right time, right person
Ilya leaves us with a final piece of advice:
If I could give advice to young professionals it would be to follow your passion, do it well, and be open to opportunities. Figure out your own path rather than letting inertia or the path of least resistance guide you. Especially in Washington, you’ll eventually be in the right place at the right time; you have to make sure you’re the right person—that you’ve built up your own skills and intellectual capital—when those “right times” present themselves. Set goals, continue to learn, and have a reason for what you’re doing.
Being a working mom is hard- Lori Sanders; a native of Georgia and Alumni of Mercer College offers insight on how to have a thriving professional life and a stable home environment. Lori began her journey as young professional in Washington by working with the Charles Koch Institute Associate Program, then with Mercatus as a program director, and now she serves as the program manger for the book Road to Freedom, written by Author C. Brooks.
Lori did not always imagine herself pursing a career in advancing liberty. She even admits that upon entering college she was a little left of center when it came to her political beliefs.
In my hometown, there’s an incredibly high poverty level and horrible local schools, so I grew up with this overriding concern about how to help individuals flourish. I always assumed the government was supposed to help you do that. Then after taking a year off from school, I went through several personal experiences that proved to me that government was not the answer. Government is not the resource one should be using to become successful — that’s what your family, friends, colleagues, mentors, your community is for. The beauty in life is in your relationships in your communities as individuals band together to help each another thrive. I once heard Michael Novak say that to be happy, we need only two things – personal achievement and helping others. Government can’t give you that. I also strongly believe in personal responsibility — you need to do what is right in every situation. While a limited safety net is important, we should look to community first. There are plenty private sector programs that offer aid to those who are in need; we don’t this enormous welfare state.
How it all began
After taking a year off Lori went back to attend Mercer College it is here is that her ideas of free markets, liberty, and limited government flourished.
When I went back I was lucky enough to have a professor who worked with the Charles Koch higher education team. He gave me a book, The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek, which opened my eyes to a completely different philosophy. It was like reading everything I had been thinking over the past year. In reading this I found a passion and knew I needed to be in Washington, so I took the first steps and applied to Koch. Now I’m extremely blessed to work with such a great team at AEI.
Having a busy, somewhat hectic, demanding, yet rewarding job can be a lot for anyone nonetheless on top that Lori has a rambunctious 5 –year old at home. She offers insight for young professionals with little ones at home.
You just have to keep your priorities straight and remember what’s important. You also need to have supportive work environment and an understanding and encouraging spouse — I am lucky enough to have both. Honestly, above all else you need to make your family your number one priority. Seth, my son, is the biggest investment in advancing liberty that I can make.
Lori explains how America’s Future Foundation has helped her advance her career.
AFF has done countless things to help me. After leaving KAP, AFF provided an easy and fun way to continue meeting interesting people and learn more about the interesting work of other organizations. They are truly providing one of the biggest benefits to my career. AFF is great organization to get involved with; there are so many different opportunities for young professionals. I’m also fortunate enough to be on the monthly roundtable planning committee, which I enjoy that because it gives me different responsibilities than my day job; it’s a challenge and I like that! I’m always encouraging my friends and young professionals to get involved with AFF. There is no better organization to assist twenty-something’s find their first or second job!
Lori leaves us with a final piece of advice for young professionals who may be overwhelmed by the massive networking scene in DC.
When I first moved here I had this fear of not going as far in my career as I wanted because I wasn’t able to attend every networking event due to my different priorities. I learned that you don’t have to attend everything to be involved or meet people. It’s important to establish a balance to go to the things you’re interested in and good at. Have no fear — everything will work out how it’s supposed to. Do good work- that will shine above everything else. Let your work speak for itself, not your happy hour. Prioritize what’s important to you!
Upon meeting Katey Roberts you are instantly met with a warm smile and a kind handshake; she exemplifies grace and intelligence. Although, if there is one thing you take away from a meeting with Roberts it is her undeniable passion for what she does.
Roberts graduated from American University with a degree in communications; she now serves as the Director of Alumni and External Relations at the Charles Koch Institute.
When you find your passion
Roberts’s passion is people; she loves being able to help people find opportunities to contribute to the cause of liberty that take advantage of what they’re passionate about and what skills they have to offer. She finds great joy when she sees young professionals getting into a role that affords them the opportunity to grow and be successful. And she’s among those who have found a role that offers an outlet for this passion.
I love having the opportunity to meet people and help them find the right career path. I enjoy watching people discover what they are good at, what they truly enjoy, and capitalize on the intersection of their comparative advantage and their passion.
Roberts started working with Koch companies in 1996. This, she said, is where her career in advancing liberty began. Roberts held the belief in a limited government. However it wasn’t until a colleague, Wayne Gable, explained libertarianism and gave her a copy of Atlas Shrugged that she had a light bulb moment.
I had always believed in limited government and economic freedom but struggled as I was not and am not a social conservative. After reading Rand’s book and researching the ideas of liberty, I came to realize that I fit somewhere, and that there was place and a philosophy for people like me who weren’t excited about partisan politics. I was fortunate to able to move into a position that allowed me to help others find their way to “fit”—philosophically and professionally—in the fight for a more free society.
Roberts goes on to explain about how the philosophy of Market-Based Management has helped with her career as well careers of others.
New challenges are always presenting themselves but I’ve learned to use the guiding principles of MBM to overcome obstacles that we all face every day: building the right team; communicating the relevant knowledge internally and with partners; and making difficult decisions about the best allocation of resources. The biggest professional progress has come for me when I stop trying to go it alone and figure out a way, with the help of this amazing community of dedicated advocates for liberty, to get our work done together. One of our guiding principles demands that we seek, use, and share the best knowledge proactively and I’ve come to realize that this means we all need a network like the one that AFF offers.
Network, Network, Network
Roberts goes on to explain the importance of America’s Future Foundation and why networking is a vital lifeline for budding careers.
America’s Future Foundation is really important to the movement; they are providing young professionals around the country with opportunities to get connected to one another, continue their education outside of the classroom, and find the best way for them to contribute to the cause of liberty. I would recommend that any professional get involved with AFF.
Roberts’s final piece of advice
If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to never miss an opportunity to introduce yourself to others, discover what they’re working on and what they’re passionate about, and remain attentive to the possibilities to collaborate. Branch out; push yourself to meet at least one new person every time you attend an event and always follow up! Lastly, try to embrace others with respect, and always strive to find a career that gives you fulfillment professionally and personally.
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