“I’m Practical” and Other Clap-Worthy Moments with LeadingAge Texas Lobbyist Alyse Meyer
Something that I’ve particularly enjoyed about starting Pink Granite earlier this summer is the relationships that I’ve been able to build with my fellow female lobbyists – especially those who I might not otherwise get to know through our day-to-day work. Alyse Meyer is no exception. A fellow transplant into Austin (there are a lot of us!), she and her husband moved here on a bit of a whim and are still loving it.
Alyse lobbies for LeadingAge Texas and got there by working hard and speaking up for herself. I love her advice, “if you don’t ask, you don’ t get.” Insert slow clap here. That’s just the beginning of the practical nuggets that Alyse is passing on – wisdom that I think is so useful to the many many young women (and yes, even men) that I’ve met lately who are seeking an “in” at the Texas Capitol. As Alyse reminds us “no job is beneath you” when you’re working toward a goal.
WHERE DO YOU WORK, WHAT IS YOUR TITLE AND WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ACTUALLY ENTAIL?
I am Director of Public Policy for LeadingAge Texas, we advocate for not-for-profit aging services providers including retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living, senior housing and home and community based services. I work with the Texas Legislature and state and federal agencies to guide policy and regulation that impacts our diverse set of members.
I’ve been with LeadingAge Texas for just over five years.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.
WHAT DID YOU STUDY IN COLLEGE AND WHERE DID YOU ATTEND SCHOOL?
I studied political science at the University of South Florida and earned my master’s in government at California State University, Sacramento.
POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION?
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN YOUR FIELD?
I studied political science with the full intention of pursuing law school (for no other reason than to follow in my older sister’s footsteps). In my third year, a professor encouraged me to apply for an internship that would send me to Tallahassee for Florida’s 60 day session. Having no clue what this would entail I jumped on the opportunity. Throughout the 60 days I spent time with legislators, staff and top lobbyists learning the ropes and became hooked almost immediately. I was completely fascinated by this world I knew nothing about. The Schoolhouse Rock version of How a Bill Becomes a Law was just the tip of the iceberg.
After that I wanted more so I started interning at my local Congresswoman’s office which eventually led me to a paid position on the campaign. Did I say paid?
Once in Sacramento to attend grad school I started working full-time at the California Physical Therapy Association managing their PAC and grassroots advocacy. My time there taught me a valuable lesson – If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Wanting to delve more into policymaking I asked my boss if I could spend more time with her at the Capitol, and save her time by drafting testimony, press releases, white-papers and the like. I eventually earned her respect and a promotion.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Preparing to finish grad school my now husband and I made a quick trip to Austin to relax. We had never been. After returning back to Sacramento we sold everything we owned, packed up a small U-Haul and returned to Austin for good. I was starting over and ready to do whatever it took to break into the Texas political scene, teaching me another valuable lesson – no job is beneath you. Fast forward six years later. I’m in a position I’ve become incredibly passionate about, and I continue to learn from every person I work with along the way.
BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
If you want to influence policy you must have the ability to influence people so be authentic and just be yourself.
No one owes you anything. Never assume.
ADVICE YOU WISH YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Communicate with purpose. Don’t just talk for the sake of being noticed.
Work smarter not harder.
Don’t take it personally, especially during session. A tense interaction usually means you are getting the job done.
“Communicate with purpose. Don’t just talk for the sake of being noticed.”
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR CURRENT JOB? BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Knowing the work I do directly impacts LeadingAge Texas members and the seniors they serve. I’m truly inspired by the selfless work they do. The biggest challenge is learning to accept change just doesn’t happen overnight. Keep pushing forward. In our field it can take years to see a tangible goal accomplished.
DESCRIBE A TIME THAT YOU KNEW YOU WERE “GOOD” AT YOUR JOB.
When decision-makers sought my input.
YOU COULD NEVER DO YOUR JOB WITHOUT _______.
A lot of coffee and good sense of humor.
BEST TIP(S) FOR STAYING ON TOP OF YOUR TO-DO LIST OR STAYING ORGANIZED?
I’m old school. I carry a spiral notebook and cross things off my to-do list as I go.
SOMETHING THAT IS OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD ABOUT YOUR JOB?
That it’s like an episode of House of Cards. There may be some of that, but that is not the world I live in or the work I do.
LAST TIME YOU WERE THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM DURING AN IMPORTANT MEETING?
Often, but I never stopped to realize until you asked.
Alyse and her daughter.
YOU CAN HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD – WHO AND WHY?
My Mom. She passed away last July and I miss her every day. I could also really use her advice as a new Mom trying to figure it out.
WHAT’S ALWAYS IN YOUR BAG DURING SESSION?
Blue book, mints, and way too many pens. Need a pen? I’m your girl.
FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH?
Proud patron of Texas Chili Parlor
“If you want to influence policy you must have the ability to influence people, so be authentic and just be yourself.”
FAVORITE PLACE TO GET YOUR NEWS?
KUT (NPR) on the way to and from work.
FAVORITE POLITICAL TV SHOW OR MOVIE?
The American President. Does that count? 🙂
FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA APPS?
Twitter as of late.
IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE YOU’D DEFINITELY BE ____________.
My husband and I talk about selling fish tacos on a beach someday.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Don’t waste time on things you don’t love. Find what makes you happy and go for it! Leave the rest behind.
Thanks again to Alyse for offering such great advice and sharing the story of how she fell in love with lobbying as well as Austin!