My career started when I was 42.
I took the bar exam when I was nine months pregnant. At that time, there was only one track for a lawyer: working 60 to–80 hours a week. So, for 10 years, I decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom.
I became active in local politics and was asked to become deputy registrar of our town, a position I shared with the Republican registrar. In 2008, I was asked to run for the office of state representative for the general assembly. At first, I said no, because no Democrat had ever won in my town. I thought that maybe because people didn’t think of me as a partisan person that I could get some Republicans and unaffiliated voters to vote for me.
I decided the only way to win would be to knock on doors. I think people were more receptive and not afraid of opening their doors to a woman. People had some kind of trust and didn’t fear me or think I was going to rob them. I was 56 at that time. The sad part is that I didn’t believe I had won. I was astounded that it happened.
I served for one term. It was heartbreaking when I lost for a second term because I had worked very hard as a representative. I answered every letter and every email.
It all worked out in the end, though, because the majority leader in the House decided to run for secretary of the state, and she won. She asked me if I would come work for her as director of elections. I was 59. It was a huge adjustment in both my professional and personal life. However, it was thrilling to be making a difference. I think we are there to help people.
I don’t think I would have been ready for these challenges and extraordinary opportunities earlier in my life. I think that my age helps a lot because I feel wiser now. I don’t sweat the small stuff—– the stuff that might have gotten me upset when I was young.
This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.