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Jay Atkins: The Man Behind the Lobbyist


The day before this session began, Jay Atkins joined the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He is proud of the work he has been doing for the Chamber, but Jay has even more to be proud of.  Atkins’ life has been dedicated to service to his country, the State of Missouri, and his growing family.

After leaving high school Atkins served in the Navy from 1992 to 1996, where he was stationed in Colombia working on drug interdiction. If you have the time, you will want to ask him about $5-all-you-can-drink escapade in Cartagena. “It was like a big game of cat and mouse down the streets of Cartagena, Colombia,” he said

After leaving the Navy, he began college in Colorado while maintaining a membership in the Colorado National Guard.   Upon graduation Jay worked for Dot Foods in St. Louis, before beginning law school at Mizzou. When he completed law school, Atkins went to work for the Missouri Attorney General under current Governor Jay Nixon in September 2008.  He worked in the public safety division, prosecuting sexually violent criminals for the state. It was a rewarding experience, but Jay struggled to make ends meet.  “People should know how hard the assistant attorney generals work for such little money. They’re a dedicated group,” Atkins said.

One day in 2011, Atkins got a call and was asked to join the Department of Revenue as their liaison.  He later moved to the Department of Natural Resources to continue his liaison work.  This past year, during the 2013 special session, Atkins was approached by the Missouri Chamber and asked to join their team. “They asked what my future plans were and it turned out theirs were the same as mine.”

Beyond his career, Atkins also has a beautiful, growing family. On New Year’s Eve 1999, Jay was working the closing shift at Lonestar Steakhouse and decided to take one of his fellow wait staffers out afterward.  At 2 a.m., he asked a lovely young lady named Haley to join him for waffles. Two years later, they were married.

These days, Jay has three children, a boy and two girls. The family is expecting a fourth child in late April.  “My wife’s pretty excited that I won’t be able to take any time off,” he mentioned sarcastically, but also noted how lucky he is that she understands the work he’s doing. “She’s a trooper,” he said.

Atkins and family after the most recent arrival
Atkins and family after the most recent arrival

When Jay is not working hard at the Capitol, he spends much of his time with his family and working on his favorite hobbies.  You may not guess, but Atkins is an avid culinary enthusiast and loves to put together large meals for his family and friends.  He says that during session his wife will give him guff about not being around by telling him, “that if I’m not there to make dinner the kids usually eat instant noodles or pizza.” His wealth of flavor conception is best demonstrated by Mexican and Italian cuisine.  “When I was first learning to cook, I did a lot of Italian and a lot of Mexican and that kind of stuck with me.” On some weekends Atkins will wake up early, head to the store and spend the whole day in the kitchen preparing something exciting for his family.

As a child, Atkins would travel with his parents from Fort Collins to Denver a few times every year for a small, but much anticipated family outing.  He keeps the tradition alive now with his family.  “It’s easy with Columbia in the middle of the state, so about four times a year we pack up the kids and take them to do something fun.” He and his wife will take their family on a trip to the St Louis, or Kansas City Zoo, a ball game, or maybe the Magic House, which his kids always enjoy.

Jay’s second hobby he described as, “too nerdy to talk about,” but was actually very impressive.  Atkins creates beautiful scale model railroads.  “I will be featured in a national model railroad magazine in April.  My little train will be on the cover,” he admitted sheepishly.

Atkins has a lot of good things going for him: a job he loves, a beautiful family, and a new baby on the way.  He has worked for every bit of it and continues to work to keep it all together.  Calling Jay a “super dad” could be a great addition to his reputation as an excellent lobbyist.