One of the goals of the Network of enlightened Women is to educate young women on how to be strong leaders. Through our programming, NeW is proud to provide opportunities to learn about both our political system and to develop professional skills. On December 1, NeW hosted Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) for a Meet the Members conversation. During the conversation, Congresswoman McClain provided leadership advice for conservative women.
You can find a transcript highlighting the event below:
Karin Lips: I’m Karin Lips, President of the Network of enlightened Women. NeW works to educate, equip, and empowered young women to be principled leaders for a free society. Part of our work is training young women to be leaders, and that means getting to know some of our great leaders out there throughout the country. Today I am delighted to be speaking with Congresswoman Lisa McClain, who represents Michigan’s 10th Congressional District and was recently reelected for her second term.
Congresswoman McClain is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Prior to Congress, she spent more than 30 years in the business world. She is also the Founder and President of North End Support Team, which helps residents suffering from drug abuse and addiction. She lives in Romeo, Michigan with her husband and four children. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Congresswoman Lisa McClain: Thank you for having me.
Karin Lips: Well, I’m excited about your private sector background. After school, I went into the private sector and so would love to hear, how did you make the transition from the private sector to running for office?
Congresswoman McClain: I have to credit my youngest daughter, Ryan with that, I’ve always been political, but I never was involved necessarily because I spent my time raising a family and building a business. And we always have Sunday dinner. I’m Italian, so if you’re late for Sunday dinner your mama’s going to be mad. And a mad mama is no good. Nobody wants that. But we’re having Sunday dinner and I’m crabbing about something.
And my youngest daughter looked across the table at me and she said, “Well, if you don’t like it, Mom, why don’t you do something about it? Why don’t you run for congress?” And she was sassy about it, but it got me thinking and I thought, why don’t I? And then two weeks later, ironically, the gentleman that had the seat decided to retire and not come back. So, it really got me thinking. And I talked to my family, I talked to my people in the business community and whatnot, and I decided why not me? And I threw my hat in the ring, worked hard, surrounded myself with good people. And here I am running for a second term.
Karin Lips: What unique challenges do you think you face as a conservative woman?
Congresswoman McClain: I think the biggest, unfortunately is the challenge from the liberal women on the left. They attack us for not being who they want us to be. If we have this belief in diversity, equity, inclusion, one, they can’t even articulate what a woman is and they want all inclusive, then why attack me for being a traditional conservative, principled woman? Why attack me on my beliefs? That is the biggest challenge I think we have right now is staying true to who we are. Don’t apologize for it, don’t count out to it. Stand up and be proud of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you believe in.
Karin Lips: What leadership skills do you think have been most important in your role? And what did you do in the private sector? What skills did you develop that have now prepared you for this role?
Congresswoman McClain: They’re transferrable skills, and I would say empathy, but you have to be able to see things from another’s point of view. Empathy is a very valuable skill. I may not have sympathy because I haven’t experienced exactly what you are experiencing, but I have to have empathy. Whether it’s federal relief from the hurricanes or tornadoes or criminal activity, whatever it may be. That skill of empathy and compassion is critical.
Listening. My mom taught me, God gave you two eyes and two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly. If I can just pause for a moment and listen, that will help me put together better policies, better programs, and focus on better solutions for everyone. And probably one of the most important, I think, is courage. Courage to stand up and talk about what I believe in. I’m very, very principled. I’m very true North. I’m very centered in my beliefs. I have to have the courage to stand up and talk about those, knowing that I am going to get pushback. I may get ridiculed for them, I may get bullied, harassed, whatever word, but I had so much confidence in myself and my beliefs that I will have the courage to follow my beliefs and those beliefs will guide my actions on a day-to-day basis.
Karin Lips: Well, thank you so much for being with us Representative. We really appreciate it.
Lisa McClain: Have a great day. And believe in yourself. Believe in yourself. Thank you.