Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury on her career and connecting with communities

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: May 14, 2024 - 12:00am

On April 3rd, Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury joined the Policy Seminar as a guest speaker, and the excitement in the building was palpable. Congresswoman Stansbury is a proud lifelong resident of New Mexico, and her career goals are grounded in answering the question: how do we build an equitable and sustainable future for our state?

The Congresswoman told the class about her journey to Washington D.C. -- from a housing and a food insecure childhood to graduating from college, then working as a teacher, to pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology, to running for office. Stansbury believes her varied background makes her an effective and compassionate leader today.

She shared with the students that different life experiences can be their greatest strength because leaders can use personal histories to advocate for meaningful change effectively. From the beginning of her career in office as a New Mexico State Senator, Congresswoman Stansbury has found no substitution for human connection; listening to and connecting with communities is a must.

On policy, Congresswoman Stansbury shared some advice: sometimes, it is all about timing. Maybe the policy you propose today is not politically feasible, or the landscape is not conducive to change. She told the class to play the long game: “You have got to be toiling away, doing your research, talking to the community, and being ready for your moment.” Sometimes, an event shakes everything up, the stars align, and the policy you have worked hard on is needed at that moment.