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Public leadership through a crisis


2020 has been a difficult year for a variety of reasons – the ongoing pandemic, social unrest and much more. But it’s also an election year, and divisiveness seems more prevalent than ever, which can lead people to lose hope in leaders and feel uncertain about the future.

The Network for Young Professionals had the opportunity to see two of our state leaders display quite the opposite attitude on October 8 at their latest edition of Access to the Issues.

State Senator Lincoln Hough and State Rep. Crystal Quade may sit on “opposite sides of the aisle,” but they’ve collaborated numerous times to fight for what is best for the people and community. Their willingness to put aside differences and work together was inspiring and encouraging for YPs to see, and during the event they talked about how they have worked to lead through the pandemic, as well as what they have learned and how we YPs can stay involved.

Here are some top takeaways:

  • This legislative session was difficult, but thankfully the legislative session is never exactly “normal,” so they were still able to get several items across the finish line.
  • Hough shared his philosophy for collaboration despite differences: “Mutual respect is something that all people deserve, even if you don’t see eye to eye on something.” For both he and Quade, the ability to work together is rooted in a desire to see our community thrive and do what is right for the people.
  • The Network travels to Jefferson City each year to meet with statewide leaders, but were unable to this year due to the pandemic, so we asked how we can continue to stay engaged with our state lawmakers:
    • Quade said there are not enough YPs getting involved. She wants to hear from average people about how issues will affect them.
    • Hough believes there is a misconception that state leaders don’t have time to talk or pick up the phone. “When you reach out,” he said, “it makes a difference.”
  • The officials also offered their advice for YPs who might be considering whether they would want to run for office:
    • “Do some soul searching and really determine why you want to run,” Sen. Hough said. Serving in government, he added, is one of the best ways to give back to your community.
  • Quade offered encouragement. “Too often, young people – and women – don’t feel they have enough experience to run,” she said, adding that running, regardless of the outcome, is a great experience. “It helps you determine who you want to be.”

The current environment makes it easy to focus on the negatives, so the speakers wrapped the event by sharing something they’ve learned in the past few months. Quade has been excited to see how much more accessible things have become to many members of our community through technology. She hopes to continue seeing that accessibility for all people after the pandemic. Hough urged YPs to “remain hopeful in your community and remain hopeful in the future of your community.”

Springfield YPs have always had access to key leaders, but these times make it especially important to take advantage of the ability to connect with decision-makers when possible, and to capitalize on the opportunity to make a difference.

A full recording of the event is available on the Network website.

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