LI Grad Interview: Dog Owner, Political Activist, Florida Senate Staffer
"Learn about what is happening in your community and get to know your neighbors. National politics attracts the most attention, but big decisions are being made in your backyard by city and county leaders."
Meet Natalie Brown, a Leadership Institute (LI) graduate and Legislative Assistant for Florida State Senator Danny Burgess.
I recently interviewed Natalie and heard about her experience as a Legislative Assistant, her advice for conservative activists, and how the Leadership Institute's internship and training helped her become the political activist she is today.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I became interested in politics in high school while participating in a program called Youth in Government. In 2016, I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in economics and moved to Arlington, VA, where I participated in the Koch Associate Program and worked in communications for Concerned Veterans for America.
After surviving two blizzards, I returned to Florida.
I’ve been with the Florida Senate as a Legislative Assistant since 2018. I live in Lakeland, Florida, with my husband Ethan and our dog Spock.
You currently work as a legislative assistant for Florida State Senator Danny Burgess. How did your work with the Leadership Institute (LI) help prepare you for that job?
This year will be my sixth Legislative Session and my second with Senator Danny Burgess.
Since my time at the Leadership Institute, I have seen all 45 Laws of the Public Policy Process in action. One of my favorites is Rule 33: "Governing is campaigning by different means."
Everything we do at the state level is scrutinized by other elected officials, the media, and most importantly, our constituents. As an LI intern, I was able to attend a variety of Leadership Institute schools and workshops. I use lessons from LI's Public Relations School every day. I even have the sample press release from PR School to show my interns every year.
Do you have any insightful stories about working in the Florida Senate?
As one Senator often says, the Florida House is an Army with a few leaders and a large infantry, but the Senate is 40 warlords forced to work together to accomplish anything.
It is the truth. With only 40 members, the Senate is a small, collegial body. Some of the smaller committees have five members, so every vote matters.
Every Senator has to work with their colleagues, and it's a very collaborative environment. Unfortunately, most Floridians don't know that and expect Democrats and Republicans to be at each other's throats on the Senate floor.
You used to work as a Digital Communications and External Affairs Intern for the Leadership Institute. What experience did you gain from that position?
My time at the Leadership Institute taught me so much about public service, but being the Digital Communications and External Affairs intern gave me the chance to develop specific skills. I learned graphic design, public relations, and social media management. I also wrote blog posts and email copy for the different training divisions.
In my current role, I use much of that experience. I regularly write and send newsletters and press releases. I manage my Senator's social media accounts and write speeches and talking points.
Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?
I encourage everyone to log off of social media and get involved at the local level.
Learn about what is happening in your community and get to know your neighbors. National politics attracts the most attention, but big decisions are being made in your backyard by city and county leaders.
Use your voice to improve your community and develop relationships with other community leaders through civic and service organizations.
Make it personal. Share your experience. Why do you care about this issue?
If you are sharing your opinion with your state legislators or your congressman, do a little research. Do they sit on a committee where the bill will be heard? Have they already voted on the issue? If so, did they share why they voted for or against legislation? (You'd be surprised how many calls we get asking us to tell a senator to vote against their own bill.)
Share how the proposed legislation affects your livelihood or your family.
Sending a form letter via email is a drop in the bucket, but a personal email detailing your experiences or concerns will get attention, sometimes even a phone call.
This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities. Don't miss out! Sign up here.