September 28, 2012

Profile in Liberty: Lori Sanders

By: Dawn Heuer

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.

Unexpected events

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.

Balancing Act

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.

Biggest Benefit

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!

No Fear

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!