Path to Politics: You’ve Won! Now What?

November 24, 2009

On Wednesday, November 18th, Running Start, with the generous help of our hosts at the George Washington University Graduate School of Public Administration, put on another successful Path 2 Politics event.  Entitled, “You Won! Now What?” the event featured Maryland State Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who shared her experiences running and serving for political office as a young woman.  I must say I was very impressed by the poise and candor of this accomplished young woman.

Serving as a Maryland Delegate since the age of 26, Delegate Haddaway-Riccio recalled her path to political office.  Having been interested in politics from a young age, when a seat opened up for appointment in the Maryland General Assembly Haddaway-Riccio decided to throw her name into the hat – though with no intention of actually assuming the position.  “By putting my name out there,” she figured, “I’d at least get people familiar with my name by the time I actually ran, 10 or 15 years down the road. She did not anticipate such a positive reception from Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.  In fact, Haddaway-Riccio recalled, “when I got the call telling me I’d been chosen for the appointment I think I actually screamed into the phone….I was shocked.”

After being sworn into office in August of 2003, Haddaway-Riccio immediately set to work – and has not stopped since.  In additions to serving as a Delegate, Haddaway- Riccio also runs her own small business during the 9 months of the year the General Assembly is not in session – although if you ask me, from the sound of it, serving as a Delegate in the General Assembly is a year-round full-time job as it is. But, she pointed out, “every day is different, and I love that.” The life of a Delegate certainly isn’t easy, but it can be immensely rewarding. Haddaway-Riccio noted that her favorite part about her job is being able to help a constituent in need, and giving back to community.

Although she loves her job, Haddaway-Riccio noted that it’s important to realize that serving as a Delegate as a young adult is not for everyone and comes with certain trades-offs. The most difficult challenge in serving in public office, she maintains, is managing the work-family balance, because she still has “a husband and a dog that [she] likes to see occasionally.” “It may be complicated,” she advised “but if it’s what you want, you can make it work for you,” admitting to having planned her entire wedding around her busy schedule.

Having already won re-election twice, Haddaway-Riccio provides an excellent role model for girls. Through her hard work and dedication to her office, Haddaway-Riccio shows girls just how much they can accomplish when they work hard, take a chance on themselves, and put their names forward.

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