October 18, 2018

Introducing Ericka Andersen–2018 Buckley Award Winner

By: AF Editors

America’s Future is excited to introduce the first of our four 2018 Buckley Award winners: Ericka Andersen. Ericka has made a significant impact on the national debate on the opioid crisis by focusing on empathetic free-market, private solutions.

As one of the judges noted, “Her book, Leaving Cloud 9, was one of the most personal and inspirational books in the last year that laid bare the struggles of the opioid crisis.”

Through her work, her newly published book, and her numerous writings, Ericka has earned an award for “meaningfully impacting news coverage of a high profile issue in the last year.”

Celebrate with Ericka at the Ninth Annual Buckley Awards on Wednesday, October 24, at 6:00 pm at the Hillsdale College Kirby Center in Washington, DC. RSVP here to attend.

Her nominator says, “The opioid crisis has been devastating the country in recent years–specifically, it’s been hurting children. Ericka’s 2018 book Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected From the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma and Mental Illness (published by Harper Collins) documents the life of one man who experienced the consequences of his mother’s addiction and how it played out in his life as an adult. Ericka’s approach focuses on cultural, community and faith-based solutions rather than an over-reliance on big government or pharmaceutical reforms. Her work and specifically, her book showcase ways in which we can help the most vulnerable in American society deal with this ‘disease of despair’ and overcome.”

Get to know Ericka!

Photo: Ericka Andersen

What moment or opportunity in your life do you believe played the largest part in getting you to where you are today?
The biggest opportunity for me was probably the first one – getting an internship through the National Journalism Center at the Washington Examiner newspaper. It launched my career and provided so much initial opportunity for me to dream and network and figure out what I wanted to do with life.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career so far?
Personal self-doubt. I often lack the confidence I should have and am always striving to overcome that weakness to thrive in what I do.

Photo: Ericka Andersen

What piece of work or accomplishment are you most proud of (besides this Buckley Award)?
I am most proud my book, Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected From the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma and Mental Illness.

What inspired the above work or accomplishment?
My husband’s life story, on which the book is based, is a beautiful story of redemption. We knew telling that story could be hopeful and helpful to many people who have experienced childhood trauma. Additionally, it is relevant to today’s very pressing issue of opioid addiction, and I knew the book could speak to how people could escape from cycles of poverty and addiction. It also provided an opportunity to speak on policy issues I believe would be valuable in solving the crisis and helping those looking for answers.

In your words, why are you a conservative/libertarian?
In general, conservatism is like common sense to me. Policies that liberate and provide opportunity through the free market are the only ones that make sense to empower and uplift the most people. Limited government is better government because I believe people can and must make the best decisions for their own lives.

What does a typical day at the office look like for you?
I work from home in Indiana so I spend the day either at a coffee shop or in my “home office” in my bedroom. My day includes pinpointing the priorities for Independent Women’s Forum* that day and finding creative ways to market our content, setting up ad campaigns on social media, brainstorming with staff on upcoming issues and events. I spend time engaging with our fan base and sometimes writing blog posts, op-eds, or creating videos or graphics to accompany our content. Much of my day is spent thinking about strategy.

Photo: Ericka Andersen

Hobbies/side gigs/secret skills no one knows about?
I love doing CrossFit, have run 9 full marathons, and I’m starting a podcast!

What is your next big goal or project you’re working on (now that you’ve won a Buckley Award, of course)?
I’m starting a podcast, watch for it in the next couple of weeks. It’s called “Worth Your Time,” and I’ll be speaking with a range of interesting (mostly) women about their fascinating careers, projects, and lives.

What advice do you have for those who want to advance liberty and make a difference in our society?
Get involved with your local community by volunteering to be a mentor, getting involved with the foster care system, donating time, money, food, and energy to local causes you most believe in. Inconvenience yourself to help others consistently and really listen to their stories. Also, assume the best about someone you disagree with and truly make a point to see things from their side so you can best figure out what you believe and why against the very best points coming from another viewpoint. Doing these things makes those who believe in liberty very attractive in a society so focused on self. Liberty allows us the opportunity to make choices and help our neighbors, whereas more government decreases those “needs” and opportunities, which contributes to the breakdown of society in a variety of ways.


Hot Takes with Ericka

Brewed coffee or latte/mocha/etc.?
Double tall skinny vanilla latte

Cat or dog?

Android or Apple?

Email or GChat or Slack?

Audiobook or podcast?

Wine or beer?
Pumpkin ale at the moment

Hamilton or Jefferson?

Uber or Lyft?

Today’s hits or classic rock?
Country ☺

Go to a movie or rent a movie?
Go to a movie but I can’t do that anymore cause I have kids!

Pizza or tacos?

Introducing Ericka Andersen–2018 Buckley Award Winner 1

Photo: Ericka Andersen

Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer and podcast host. She formerly* served as the digital marketing director of Independent Women’s Forum where she focused on audience development, promotional, and engagement strategies to connect with women across the country. She is the author of Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness. An account of her husband’s life story, the book offers a message of hope to those struggling with childhood trauma.

Ericka was formerly the digital director of National Review and online and digital manager at The Heritage Foundation. She also served as the director of online media outreach for Vice President Mike Pence when he was Chairman of the House Republican Conference. Ericka lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and two young children.


Follow Ericka on Facebook @ErickaAndersenSylvester and Twitter @ErickaAndersen.

Check out our other 2018 Buckley Award winners: Rob Bluey, Carrie Sheffield, and Christina Sandefur.

*Editor’s note: When originally published, Ericka served as the digital marketing director for the Independent Women’s Forum. This article has been updated to reflect Ericka’s current job title.