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The Missouri Times 2020 30 Under 30 List

  

The Missouri Times is proud to bring to you this year’s 30 Under 30 class. From lobbyists to Capitol staffers and more, the 2020 honorees work tirelessly around the clock to make Missouri a better place.

Congrats to our 30 Under 30 list below. 

Dallas Ernst; Political director for Parson for Missouri 

Dallas Ernst is excited for the future of the Republican Party especially as more young people, like him, are getting involved. And at just 24 years old, Ernst has already made an indelible mark on the Missouri GOP. 

Ernst serves as the political director for Gov. Mike Parson’s gubernatorial campaign where he does everything from drafting press releases to putting together events across the state. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of the governor’s campaign and help him get re-elected to continue to fighting for Missourians,” Ernst said. 

A graduate of the University of Missouri where he studied strategic communications and political science, Ernst’s first job out of college was for Sen. Dave Schatz in the Pro Tem’s office in 2018. He’s also spent some time work in digital advertising for Victory Enterprises and volunteered for U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s campaign. 

“I’m really proud, especially in the last year, all that I’ve been able to learn,” Ernst said. “I’ve been able to be put in a lot of situations I didn’t necessarily have a background in, but I’ve enjoyed figuring it out and being given the responsibility.” 

Ernst is most proud of getting his dad elected as Pulaski County clerk in 2018. 

“He’s very thorough and detail-oriented and isn’t afraid to try something outside the normal in a campaign,” David Ernst said. 

Ernst said the future of the Republican Party for young people excites him. 

“There’s more and more people becoming Republicans and understanding that the policy positions of low taxes and more freedom create more opportunity for Missourians, and it’s going to be very exciting being a part of that over the course of my career,” he said. 

As for Ernst, his future seems pretty set in the capital city where he and his wife both work. 

Follow Dallas on Twitter: @DallasErnst

John Gaskin; Associate with Flotron & McIntosh

John Gaskin has been around politics his whole life — and in particular, strong, political women. His grandmother, the late Rep. Esther Haywood, would regale and “little John” with stories the goings-on in the Missouri Capitol halls and former Gov. Bob Holden’s inauguration. 

It was from her that Gaskin started asking questions, learning all he could about the Missouri Legislature. And that inquisitive nature hasn’t stopped, instead propelling him through his own career in Missouri politics. 

“I really had an opportunity to be groomed at the feet of someone who worked really hard for civil rights and public education in St. Louis. I’m really blessed to have had that opportunity to grow up around incredible statesmen and women,” Gaskin said. “It was really inspiring to get to know these men and women who I was just so enamored by, how articulate, how passionate, how well-respected they all were.” 

So Gaskin decided to follow in the footsteps of the people he holds in such high regard. He got his first glimpse into state government on his own through working with former Secretary of State Jason Kander in the Capitol. 

And now, at 28 years old, Gaskin serves as an associate at Flotron & McIntosh where he tracks legislation, attends hearings, and takes care of a host of clients. Gaskins describes his job as “keeping all the balls in the air while still learning.” 

“The best description I have heard of John is that ‘he builds bridges not burns them.’ John is wise beyond his years and has empathy for individuals and their situations,” Richard McIntosh, president and CEO of Flotron & McIntosh, said. “These qualities coupled with his strong worth ethic equals a long and successful career in the Capitol. I predict that in the many years to come, John will be a go-to leader in government affairs in Missouri. I am honored to have him in the firm.” 

Aside from his work at the firm, Gaskin is heavily involved in the NAACP, serving as a member of the group’s board of directors. 

Throughout his service and work in state government, Gaskin has a goal: to remain humble and build a reputation as someone who is hardworking, deliberate, and thoughtful. 

“It’s not about being out front. I want to make the people who have given me an opportunity proud. I want them to say, ‘I gave him a chance. I gave him his first job out of college, and he’s made good on the opportunities placed in front of him,’” he said. 

Follow John on Twitter: @johngaskinstl

Danielle Savage Hobbs; Deputy Missouri State Director for Victory Enterprises

At just 24 years old, Danielle Savage Hobbs is a communications guru. She uses her artistic background to bring unique and creative elements to her job at Victory Enterprises —  and she’s received national attention for her work. 

Hobbs is in constant communication with her team and clients. Although her workday largely varies, she’s often spending several hours a day writing press releases, op-eds, or other missives her long list of clients might need. 

“Danielle combines her experience as a frontline campaign operative with her unique, full-spectrum understanding of how to develop and execute impactful media strategies,” Wayne Yocum, Victory Enterprises’ chief creative officer, said. “Her strategic mind, creativity, and attention to detail have been the difference in countless wins for our Victory Enterprises team.” 

Before becoming the state director at Victory Enterprises, Hobbs worked on a variety of campaigns nationwide. She said she’s particularly proud of some of the mail she did for those campaigns that received media attention. 

Hobbs has been with Victory Enterprises since 2017 and was promoted earlier this year to a more client-facing role. 

“I care a lot about the outcomes and policies and how they’re being shaped,” Hobbs said. “There’s a lot of investment in this state, blue or red, and that contributes to a healthier overall community of people who care about this state.” 

“I love that Missouri is a bellwether state. I love that we represent the nation so well,” she continued. “We have liberal cities on the edges, and this broader, red state in the middle. We’re a microcosm for nationwide politics and a great testing ground for new ideas and new ways of doing things.” 

Follow Danielle on Twitter: @dani_savage95

Jacob Scott; Chief of staff to Sen. Bill Eigel

Jacob Scott has spent about six years in the Missouri Capitol — and four of those years have been at the side of one of the Conservative Caucus’ de facto leaders, Sen. Bill Eigel. 

Scott said he noticed Eigel when he first started his bid for the state Senate because he was “a regular citizen with some good ideas.” And Eigel’s policies align perfectly with his own interests in taxation, health care, and education policy. 

“It’s about providing good service to constituents and good service to the senator,” Scott, 29, said of his job. “We’re an extension of the senators’ ability to achieve teh legislative priorities they want. Definitely helping constituents with their issues before the government is a critical thing.”

Scott said his interest in politics first began in high school, calling it a “natural fit.” Aside from his work with Eigel, Scott has served former Sen. Rob Schaaf in the upper chamber. 

“I’ve been blessed to have the best staff in the building, and Jacob is a big part of its success. I couldn’t filibuster nearly as many bad bills without Jacob’s focus and efficiency,” Eigel said. 

Scott said his work with HB 2540, an income tax cut passed in 2018, as something he’s particularly proud of from his time in the Capitol. 

“I think it’s done a lot to give basically everyone an economic opportunity in the state. More money in people’s pocketbooks is always a good thing,” Scott said. 

Scott is a graduate of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph and the University of Missouri-Kansas City; the latter of which is where he received his Master’s in higher education administration. 

Scott is interested in working in higher education at some point, but for now, his focus remains solely on the legislature, taking care of the needs of those in SD 23, and being a leader among other Capitol staffers. 

“Staffers in the Capitol work incredibly hard to stay on top of the issues that are important to the people,” Scott said. “We do our best to ensure that the voices of people are heard because a lot of times people will email or call the office, and it’s up to us to make sure the information gets to the electeds. It’s a dual role as liaison between the general public and senators but also to the folks who get the job done.” 

 

Ben Terrell; Legislative liaison for the Department of Labor

Ben Terrell loves to help Missourians. And as the legislative liaison for the Department of Labor — especially during a time when a pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy — Terrell is doing just that. 

Terrell, 24, spends a lot of his time working on unemployment issues at the department — from helping constituents with referrals from the legislature to implementing new federal programs. And with the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus, Terrell has become adept at innovation. 

For Terrell, politics started as just a “fun hobby” while he was on a pre-med track at Truman State University. He joined the College Republicans and started to develop a passion for government at the same time he began to lose interest in what he was studying. 

So Terrell started joining campaigns and lobbying with the College Republicans in the Capitol building. After college, he managed Craig Redmon’s state Senate campaign and joined the governor’s team. He had served on Parson’s lieutenant governor race as an intern in college, and on the day of the Senate primary election, got a call from his old boss to come back. 

The position with the Department of Labor opened up for Terrell in January 2020. 

“The big motivation at the core of all of it is getting to make positive changes in the state and help people, being involved in the conversation, and knowing what I’m doing is impacting folks,” Terrell said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something, and I love that. It’s great to engage with legislators and other organizations who care so much about they’re doing, and it rubs off on me and gets me fired up.” 

“Ben has the heart of a public servant,” Pat Thomas said. “I’ve known Ben for over four years. He’s a hard worker and willing to go the extra mile to make a better day for someone else. During this COVID crisis, he has to have had one of the toughest jobs, but he’s still greeting people with a smile on his voice.”

The legislative agenda had already been set when Terrell joined the Department of Labor earlier this year — so he’s particularly looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on next year’s project. 

Follow Ben on Twitter: @benjiterrell

Casey Adrian; Buy Missouri and Tourism Director

Casey Adrian’s first job in the Capitol was one some people spend years working toward: the Majority Floor Leader’s Office. She didn’t plan on going into politics — in fact, she spent a year in the banking industry — but once she worked for then-Sen. Mike Kehoe’s campaign, she was hooked. 

Adrian’s political career has largely followed Kehoe. She serves as the Buy Missouri and Tourism Director in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office where she gets to travel the state, promote Missouri’s tourism assets, and visit with businesses of all sizes making products in the Show-Me State. 

“I’m very fortunate, in my position, to have the opportunity to travel and meet people around the state. In doing so, I am able to see the many things Missouri has to offer,” Adrian said. “I grew up in Jefferson City so I’m very accustomed to the Capitol being in the center of things. Traveling throughout the state allows me the chance to connect other areas of the state to Jefferson City, specifically by sharing my support for the small businesses and industries that make up the Buy Missouri program.”

“Hearing the motivation and background of those who build businesses and start companies is fascinating. I have yet to visit a business that has not had an inspiring vision and story to share.”

Adrian, 28, is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri where she received a business management degree. After college, she worked for Kehoe’s campaign where she became enamored by the ever-changing nature of politics. 

From there, Adrian worked for a bank for about a year before going back to work for Kehoe in the Senate. Her work caught the eye of Sen. Sandy Crawford, for whom she worked as chief of staff. It was a  job she said she was “very fortunate” to hold, but it wasn’t long before Kehoe was appointed lieutenant governor — and she was back. 

“It was an offer I couldn’t pass up. I’m very interested in tourism and supporting the state and our local manufacturers and companies,” Adrian said. 

Aside from her work for the lieutenant governor, Adrian is continuing her education and hopes to one day go into the communications side of politics.  

“I feel very lucky because this is a job where no two days are ever the same,” she said. “Every day I continue to see and learn something new. Very few people can say that about their work and I am grateful that I can.”

Follow Casey on Twitter: @CaseyHoggAdrian

Adam Rapert; Legislative assistant to Sen. Dave Schatz

After only a handful of years behind the scenes of the legislative process in Missouri, Adam Rapert is enamored by the inner workings of government. 

“I love being a part of what’s going on in this building. I love everything and anything about Jefferson City, about government, about how this all works, this whole song-and-dance where people make laws,” he said. “I love being part of all of that, and the fact that I get to work for the [Senate President] Pro Tem is that much better.”

Rapert, 27, has served as Sen. Dave Schatz’s legislative assistant since November 2019, helping him with legislative strategy and constituent outreach. 

“Adam has been a great addition to our office,” Schatz said. “His positive attitude, work ethic, and willingness to take on any task has been invaluable during a very trying first session.” 

“Adam has done a great job helping our constituents navigate the red tape of government, and I look forward to his continued service to our district and everyone who stops by our office,” he added. 

Rapert began his political career while completing his political science degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. While there, he worked in a leadership position in the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) lobbying group before moving on to work for Rep. Phil Christofanelli as his legislative assistant. After working in the House for Christofanelli and Rep. Derek Grier for a time, Rapert moved to the upper chamber. 

Rapert said the best part about working in the Capitol is the opportunity to learn more about the process from the people around him.  

“I go into it trying to take away something that can make me better and push me further along in my career,” he said. “There wasn’t one big ‘aha’ moment, it’s just every day, every moment, every time I get in front of someone I try to ask myself, ‘What can I learn from this person, this person in a higher-up position than me, someone who has been doing this longer than I have.’ So every day I try to learn something.” 

Follow Adam on Twitter: @adam_rapert

Matt Thompson; Legislative director for Sen. Caleb Rowden

When it comes to his work in Missouri politics, Matt Thompson is highly versatile. At just 29 years old, Thompson has skillfully worked for several members in the Capitol building — from Rep. Travis Fitzwater to Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer — and served with the House Republican Campaign Committee in Kansas City.

And now, as the legislative director for Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, has tailored his focus the legislative priorities of SD 19 — an area where he grew up. 

“It’s honestly about having the opportunity to help a business or individual in the district. I help with the constituent side of things if I can,” Thompson said. “Living in the area and being from New Franklin, I spent a lot of time in Boonville. I get to deal with farmers and people I grew up with and have an impact on their lives.” 

As a University of Missouri graduate, Thompson is particularly proud of the work Rowden’s office has been able to do in representing the Columbia area, especially when it comes to the budget process. It’s his district, making the work he does for SD 19 even more special. 

“Matt is a great guy to have on your team,” Rowden said. “Knowledgable on a wide array of topics and always willing to do what it takes to get the job done!” 

Thompson said he waivered a bit in college about what he wanted to do with his life, but government and legislation had always held his interest. 

Follow Matt on Twitter: @mwthom90

Alex Johnson; Field Director for the House Democratic Campaign Committee

Alex Johnson is a one-stop-shop for Democratic candidates in Missouri. From fundraising to voter contact, Johnson stands at the ready to help House candidates with whatever need or question arises. 

Johnson, 26, thought he wanted to be a teacher, but once he got to college, he felt he would be able to effectuate greater change through politics. And it was then, while still in college, that Johnson got a firsthand look at the uglier side of politics, too. 

Along with other students at Drury University in Springfield, Johnson joined Planned Parenthood for a lobbying day at the Capitol. But one lawmaker essentially ignored the group, just putting his feet up on his desk while they spoke, Johnson recalled. After walking out of that meeting, Johnson boldly walked up to the organizer, extended his hand, and said: “Hi, I’m going to be your new intern. When can I start?” 

Johnson got his campaign start with the Greene County Democrats Central Committee where he helped Rep. Crystal Quade on her very first race. And Johnson has been with her as she was elected and rose to serve in a leadership position. 

“I don’t know anyone who cares for and works for democracy and justice more than Alex Johnson,” Quade said. “His love for Missouri and its people makes him so great at his job. He’s been with me since my first election, and I’m so proud to see him take his skills to help the whole state. We are so lucky to have him.” 

Johnson takes pride in his work, particularly in the committee’s focus on all Democratic races, not just seats they believe are easily flippable, he said. 

“I have an immense amount of responsibility and pride in my work that at my age I’m already allowed to have such an impact on what happens here in Missouri,” Johnson said. “We want to invest in every single candidate and campaign.” 

Follow Adam on Twitter: @thatguyjohnson7

Emily O’Laughlin; Legislative coordinator for the House Minority Caucus 

On any given day — especially during the legislative session — you can probably find Emily O’Laughlin in a House Committee, ardently tracking any changes made to legislation. As the legislative coordinator for the House Minority Caucus, it’s O’Laughlin’s job to be at the ready to help legislators with any needs that arise with a bill, from understanding its impact to an issue’s history to policy research on potential consequences and much more. 

O’Laughlin considers herself on the frontlines of Missouri history — and from her deep immersion in lawmaking, she’s not wrong. 

“I really love working with public policy. It’s also really great to be on a team with all of the Democrats who are fighting every single day for who we see as the most vulnerable in the state,” O’Laughlin, 29, said. “I love working with public policy because it affects the whole state.”

While her parents would probably point to O’Laughlin scrapbooking the Bush/Gore contest in 2000 when she was just in fourth grade, O’Laughlin’s first post-college foray into the political world came when she worked as the communications coordinator for Sen. Jill Schupp’s first Senate campaign. After that, O’Laughlin joined Rep. Tracy McCreery in the House as her legislative assistant where she worked for four sessions. 

McCreery said O’Laughlin is the perfect embodiment of President Harry S. Truman’s infamous line: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” 

“She gets professional and personal satisfaction by helping her team be prepared (some would say over-prepared) and knowledgeable,” McCreery said. “Emily’s heart is truly in the Democratic Caucus’ work; she’s been passionate about helping people through public policy her whole life.”

O’Laughlin studied social work at Missouri State but felt she could effectuate greater change through policy work. She also received her Master’s in social work with a specialization in social and economic development policy from Washington University. 

“I really hope that people continue to push for what they believe is right,” O’Laughlin said. “Obviously, depending on who you’re talking to, it’s not always the same approach, but our goals can be the same. I hope in the future of Missouri policy and politics, there’s a little bit more inclusivity. If you have a more diverse array of voices at the decision-making table, you’ll get a better outcome for everyone.” 

Follow Emily on Twitter: @emilyfolaughlin

Chase Campbell; HRCC political director

For some in politics, campaign work can be a means to an end. But for Chase Campbell, campaigns are his driving interest. 

It was U.S. Senator Roy Blunt who first roped Campbell, 28, into the world of Missouri politics. While still attending classes at the University of Missouri, Campbell worked in his district office in Columbia. 

From there, Campbell worked in the Capitol before joining the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) where he’s risen in the ranks from field staffer to political director. 

“In my short time in Missouri politics, I’ve worked for the House in one capacity or another,” Campbell said. “I believe I have a close connection to the Caucus considering it has always been my focus. It’s fulfilling to help out people you know very well and have experience with.” 

“Chase is an exceptionally hard worker who you can trust that every decision he makes is in the best interest of HRCC and our caucus members,” Jon Ratliff said. “ His commitment to our team has been and will continue to be part of the secret sauce that makes HRCC successful. From starting as a field staffer in 2016 to serving as political director today, Chase has risen to every occasion, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the next four years.”

From Boonville, Campbell said he has always been interested in politics. And like many politicos, Campbell has found the only constant about his job is its ever-changing nature. On any given day, Campbell fields calls from incumbents and new candidates alike. He said he’s constantly on the phone determining answers to a wide variety of questions and coordinates the data for the House races as well. 

“For better or worse, it’s not the smoothest career path probably, but that’s part of what I enjoy about my work,” Campbell said. 

Follow Chase on Twitter: @_ChaseCampbell

Jacqueline Neil; Consultant at the Prosper Group

Jacqueline Neil is a digital guru — and her work has been recognized across the country. At the Prosper Group, Neil executes digital strategies for several campaigns with a focus on down-ballot races. 

“Working with a national digital strategist with Missouri roots has many benefits. Jackie knows what wins and gives good advice on how to reach voters digitally in the Show-Me State,” Aaron Baker said. “I couldn’t be more proud to work with her on our campaigns.” 

Neil, 26, cut her teeth in Missouri politics in 2015 through an opportunity right in her own backyard: She joined former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s gubernatorial campaign as his deputy communications director. And from there, with her digital prowess noticed, she took off. 

Neil has done grassroots work across the country, including for the American Renewal Project — which turned out evangelical votes for Donald Trump in 2016 — in Pennsylvania and Ohio. But Neil’s campaign work also brought her back to Missouri to join Rep. Holly Rehder who has championed both right to work and PDMP legislation. 

“Jackie has tremendous artistic talent in graphic design,” Rehder said. “She works with her clients — listening to their thoughts, expectations, and hopes for the final project — then she makes it happen. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow professionally these past few years. Without a doubt, Jackie is a rare find in politics!”

At the Prosper Group, Neil is constantly striving to meet the digital demand on every level of campaigning. With an incredible roster of clients from presidential, congressional, and state, Neil leads the Local Leaders Program designed to service down-ballot races. 

“I really enjoy working down-ballot campaigns because I’m working closely with local leaders and am making a difference in my community,” Neil, a St. Louis native said. 

And the fact that she is in the midst of a male-dominated field isn’t lost on her. 

“We’re seeing a lot of [female] candidates come out, but we don’t see a lot of political operatives. That’s my drive. We talk so much about diversifying Republican campaigns and politics. One of the things that motivates me is being at the table, having a voice, and implementing a winning strategy for all of our campaigns. Because at the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do.” 

The Prosper Group’s best-in-industry work was named one of America’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. magazine in 2019 and is a female-owned business. In 2018 the Prosper Group elected 12 candidates in Missouri to Congress and the Missouri Legislature.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @WHATITISJAACKIE

Megan Price; Chief of staff to Sen. Jill Schupp

Megan Price has a heart for Missourians, evident by her devotion to her job in the Capitol. 

Price, 25, has spent most of her political career working for Sen. Jill Schupp, first on the campaign side and then in a legislative capacity. She’s served as her chief of staff since 2018. 

“I love getting to work on the priority bills and legislation she puts forward — including child care and safety, rape kits, and postpartum depression treatment. Some of those involved work, but that’s the good work of engaging with people and tackling the tough issues,” Price said. “Policymaking is such an important and significant role that we all get to play a part in and considering the impact on everyday Missourians, I just think that’s something that is really important.” 

Price first met Schupp when she helped her organize a conference to teach people how to run for office and manage campaigns after the 2016 elections. 

“I said I wanted to help organize, she said she was hosting a planning meeting, and the next thing I knew, I found myself at the dining room table at Jill Schupp’s house,” Price said. “The conference was a great success, and from that point forward, Jill Schupp has been my leader, and I’ve followed her and all the opportunities available to help support her and what she wants to do for Missourians.” 

“Megan Price is a smart and competent professional of the highest integrity who exemplifies the very best in the next generation of leaders and gives me confidence in our future,” Schupp said. 

Price said she typically spends the interim tackling a tough issue, learning its intricacies, gathering input, and creating a proposal so she can help Schupp usher it through the legislative process. She’s also instrumental in working on various events, such as an annual health care fair, and town halls. 

“We do stay busy,” she said. 

Price said she admires strong women, but she’s become just that in the Capitol for other staffers — a woman filled with tenacity and steadfast courage to help Missouri advance. 

Follow Megan on Twitter: @Megan_Price8

Matt Choinka; Senior policy advisor for the Missouri State Treasurer

While the Missouri Legislature is in session, Matt Choinka is hard at work crafting the state treasurer’s legislative proposals and pushing for their passage.

And even when the legislature isn’t in session, Choinka, who is the senior policy advisor for Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, is paying attention. He keeps an eye on what’s percolating while also working on the state’s MO ABLE program for individuals with disabilities. He’ll often travel to present information about the program to groups across the state. 

“I love the fast-paced nature of working with the legislature and political work. It’s really unlike any place I’ve worked for before,” Choinka, 29, said. “There are a lot of jobs where you don’t necessarily feel good about what you’re doing. The MO ABLE program is completely different. You really get to change people’s lives.” 

The St. Charles native fell into politics almost by accident. While helping a fraternity brother move into a new house in college, Choinka noticed a neighbor was running for state representative. He volunteered to help now-Rep. Justin Hill, eventually becoming his campaign manager. 

After college, Choinka came to the Capitol to work for the late Rep. Cloria Brown. After the 2016 elections, Choinka joined Fitzpatrick, who was then the House Budget chairman. Choinka did more campaign work in 2018, and when Fitzpatrick moved to the Treasurer’s Office, he followed. 

“He has always been a loyal staffer that has the best interest of taxpayers at heart and will do whatever is asked of him, whether that is tracking legislation, helping constituents, promoting programs for the office, or taking on special projects,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am proud to have him on my staff and am happy to see him recognized as a 30 Under 30 honoree.”

Follow Matt on Twitter: @MatthewChoinka

Jaret Scharnhorst; Legislative aide to Reps. Phil Christofanelli and Derek Grier

In the midst of taking finals in December, Jaret Scharnhorst began making the trek from Springfield to Jefferson City and back. He hadn’t even graduated, but he was already working in the Capitol, making himself a valuable asset to two state representatives. 

Scharnhorst, 22, serves as a legislative aide to conservative legislators Phil Christofanelli and Derek Grier.

“I really want to get the government out of people’s way,” Scharnhorst said. “I’m all about limited government and letting people have freedom — the freedom to own and grow a business and lead their own communities and lives without excessive interference.”

Scharnhorst thought he wanted to be a history professor — and then former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul ran for president in 2012. He credits the libertarian icon as having “awakened” him from “being politically apathetic.” Scharnhorst got involved with the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group, started his own own chapter at Missouri State University, and eventually became the YAL Missouri state chair. 

It was through YAL that Scharnhorst met Christofanelli. 

“Jaret is always one step ahead of me,” Christofanelli said. “He brings a dedication to the job that you often only find in older, career legislative aides, while at the same time he has a sophisticated knowledge of policy and a commitment to making Missouri a better place. His future in our state is bright.” 

“Jaret is a tremendous asset to our office,” Grier said. “Professional, personable, pro-active, and a real joy to work with. There isn’t aj ob I’ve ever asked him to do that he hasn’t found a way to get done and done well. We are fortunate to have him on the team.” 

Scharnhorst points to HB 2046, Grier’s license reciprocity bill, as something he’s particularly proud to have been involved with during his short time working in the House. The bill was successfully signed into law earlier this year despite a shortened session due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I really got to see a bill from start to finish and participated in it start to finish,” Scharnhorst said. “I’m extremely honored to help pass it.” 

Follow Jaret on Twitter: @jscharnhorst4

Rachel Treppler; Palm Strategic Group fundraiser

Rachel Treppler is a natural when it comes to campaigning. After all, she’s been doing it since she was born, she says. 

Treppler emulates her grandmother, the late Sen. Irene Treppler, a trailblazer who was the first Republican woman elected to the upper chamber. Treppler fondly remembers her grandmother’s kindness toward everyone— no matter the political party — and is continuing her legacy of building bridges between both sides of the aisle. 

“It’s an honor to walk in her footsteps as she paved the way for Republican woman,” Treppler said. 

And as she follows in her grandmother’s footsteps, Treppler is paving the way for other young women in Missouri as well. At just 28 years old, Treppler has been involved with all facets of Missouri politics, from countless state legislature races to multiple ballot initiatives and statewide campaigns. She’s worked in the Capitol and for the House Republican Campaign Committee and even spent some time lobbying. 

Now, Treppler still works on campaigns, but it looks a little different. As a fundraiser for Palm Strategic Group, Treppler goes the extra mile for her clients, by making endless donor calls to organizing all events.

“I knew early on that I wanted to be involved in politics but I wasn’t sure what that would look like. After many different roles, I feel I’ve finally found my place. Fundraising was not something I  considered, but now it feels like the perfect fit for me,” Treppler said. “My hope and goal in politics is to always encourage others and to be a positive light in a field that can be very stressful and demanding. At the end of the day, I feel so blessed to work alongside some of the best people in politics.” 

Treppler has already made an indelible mark at Palm Strategic. 

“Rachel has a wealth of experience working on campaigns, working in the Capitol, and fundraising for an impressive list of clients,” Scott Dieckhaus, a partner at the firm, said. “We are fortunate to count her as a key member of our Palm Strategic team!” 

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @RachelTreppler

Chris Vas; Liberty Alliance executive director

Chris Vas has a passion for conservative grassroots, and it’s that drive has led him to help get Liberty Alliance, a conservative group, off the ground. 

“I really think the most rewarding aspect of my day is helping to get the word out about what’s happening in the Capitol building to the conservative grassroots around the state and hold government officials accountable,” Vas, 23, said. “The great thing about this line of work is for the values and the views we have for our country and state, age doesn’t really affect those things.” 

Vas grew up in the Chicago suburbs and started his political career campaigning for former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. He moved to Missouri for college in 2015 and became hooked on the Show-Me State. 

“My experience here in Missouri is that a lot of elected officials are down to earth and genuine,” Vas said. “Every day since I’ve been in Missouri, what I strive to do is work really hard and further the mission and push Missouri in a more conservative direction while putting forth solutions to actually help families here in the state. “

Vas is a graduate of the University of Missouri where he studied journalism and political science. He’s spent several years working for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, both on his re-election campaign in 2016 and in his Columbia office. 

He has also worked with the Missouri Republican Party, working his way up to serve as its political director for the 2018 cycle before joining Liberty Alliance. 

“Chris Vas is a generational talent. He is creative, focused, and hard-working,” attorney Todd Graves said. “We will see big things out of Chris.”

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisJVas

Brian Wingbermuehle; Democratic committee person in St. Louis County

Brian Wingbermuehle was a senior at Rockwood Summit High School in 2018 when 17 people at another high school across the country were killed in what was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Fourteen students — all about Wingbermuehle’s age — lost their lives that day, and he knew he had to do something. 

Wingbermuehle helped organize a massive school workout in the St. Louis area, coinciding with a national day of protests, one month after the shooting. Nearly 1,000 people protested that day in St. Louis, and Wingbermuehle’s involvement in Missouri politics was underway. 

Now 20 years old, Wingbermuehle was elected to the St. Louis County Democratic Central Committee in August where he serves as the youngest committee member. 

“Here in Missouri especially, there is an insane amount of work that has to be done,” Wingbermuehle said. “There’s a laundry list of things that need to be taken care of, from Medicaid expansion to access to abortion to our skyrocketing gun violence. People in Missouri are ready for a change. I’m excited to play whatever part I can in that change.” 

Wingbermuehle’s dedication to Missouri Democrats and progressive ideas is paramount. He worked on Cort VanOstran’s congressional campaign as a teenager. At one point, he would knock doors for VanOstran in the mornings and continue knocking doors in the afternoon for NARAL, advocating for Clean Missouri and a minimum wage increase. 

Then he’d wake up and do it all over again. 

“People should get up every day and see something that is wrong and try to fix it,” Wingbermuehle said. “You get up every day and if someone is doing something that’s just not right, you have to do everything you can to make it better.” 

Jamie Manker, a social studies teacher at Rockwood Summit, said she remembered Wingbermuehle working “tirelessly to create positive change” when she taught him world history. 

“Over the years, he has leaned into the hard and unglamorous world of community organizing and advocating for local policy development to amplify the voice of others,” Manker said. “Always working and never sleeping to create justice, equality, love, and support for the greatest number of people. It has been such a gift for me to watch his work over the years.” Wingbermuehle is working towards a political science degree and founded the Missouri Biodiversity Project, which focuses on the conservation of native plants, in January. And in the middle of August, his work as a committee person began. 

“I’m excited to bring a new, younger, more progressive voice to make sure the interests of young people — and everybody really — are amplified,” Wingbermuehle said.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @winger_brian

Cliff DeGroot; Intern for Affordable Equity Partners

Cliff DeGroot is used to trading a basketball uniform for a suit and roaming the halls of the Capitol building. 

Although he’s now working with Affordable Equity Partners (AEP), a real estate banking firm, DeGroot has already cut his teeth in Missouri politics through multiple lobbying internships with Burton & Liese in the Capitol. 

“I’m extremely proud to be one of the youngest registered lobbyists in Jefferson City during my first year. I was only 18 at the time,” DeGroot, now 21, said. “I like the constant communication, walking the floors, networking. I love working with clients, and love the whole idea of politics and constantly talking to people to work out issues.” 

At AEP, DeGroot works with property managers and helps the firm — which boasts a diverse set of clients across Missouri — with managing assets. He is a student at William Woods University in Fulton and plans to attend law school. But his heart is in following in his dad’s footsteps with a career in politics. 

“Beginning at 5 years of age, Cliff would get up at 8 on Saturday mornings to put on his basketball uniform for games which routinely started at 3 p.m. This focus, enthusiasm, and dedication has brought him the success he has enjoyed thus far,” Rep. Bruce DeGroot, his father, said. “I am excited to see what his hard work will bring in the future.”

The younger DeGroot sees a future for other budding politicos like himself in Missouri as well. 

“We can come to it with fresh eyes,” he said. “We can also bring a social aspect that — especially with new, younger representatives in the building — can relate to people and talk to them that older generations might not be able to do.” 

DeGroot is on track to graduate from college early in December. And it’s quite possible we’ll be seeing more of him in the Statehouse then.

Follow Cliff on Twitter: @cliffdegroot5

Charlie Dalton; Political director for the Missouri GOP

Growing up, Charlie Dalton would travel across the country with his father on hunting and fishing trips. Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio talk show personality, would often join them on their trips through the radio. 

Getting plugged into politics at a young age propelled Dalton, 26, headfirst into politics. He started volunteering on state Senate and House races and really got his foot in the door with Catherine Hanaway’s gubernatorial campaign, rising from a field representative to deputy political director. 

From there, Dalton did campaign work for both U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner and U.S. Senator Josh Hawley before joining U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s 2018 re-election campaign. With his work noticed by the Texas senator, Dalton moved to Washington, D.C., to join the office there. 

But Missouri is Dalton’s home — after all, he’s a fifth-generation St. Charles County resident who has traveled to 110 out of the state’s 114 counties — and it wasn’t long before he was back to join the Missouri Republican Party. 

“Charlie knows every aspect of campaigning, from grassroots to digital targeting and television,” Jean Evans, executive director of the party, said. “Combine that with his unstoppable worth ethic, and you get the best hire I’ve ever made.” 

Dalton is particularly proud of his team’s quick adaptation as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc, essentially shuttering most businesses and regular campaigning. The team has trained county chairs on how to run meetings via video conferences and developed a new type of caucus and convention system. 

Dalton said he wants to continue to build upon the supermajority Republicans hold in the state. 

“One thing that we’ve been very fortunate within Missouri, we have a great bench of Republican candidates,” Dalton said. “I want to foster that talent across the state and get more people involved.” 

“Something I get all the time is people telling me how great it is to see a young person so heavily involved which is uplifting to me because when I first got started in politics, I was worried age would be a limiting factor,” he said. “There’s a stigma that you have to be older to be involved in politics. Just like anything, you have to work your way up, and I paid my dues knocking on doors. It allows me to show younger people there’s a way into politics, and you can do it in your own way and on your own timeline.” 

Dalton hopes to one day work on a presidential race, but for now, he’s content in the Show-Me State: “I always find myself coming back to Missouri.” 

Follow Charlie on Twitter: @charliedalton55

Ryan Conway; Special counsel to the Governor

Ryan Conway has a goal: to one day leave the office where he works better than he found it. And as he works for Gov. Mike Parson, Conway is clearly on his way to achieving that goal. 

Conway, 28, works as special counsel for the governor — and it’s his first job out of law school. Having always been fascinated by law, attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City for law school was a natural trajectory. And working for the governor was a no-brainer. 

“Ryan has embraced his role as an attorney in public service during these unprecedented times,” Chris Limbaugh, who serves as general counsel for the governor, said. “His legal work during this pandemic shows that he has risen to the occasion and has a bright future ahead of him.” 

Conway said he began noticing Parson when he was still in the Senate and admired who he kept in his corner. 

“Having known Gov. Parson back when he was just Sen. Parson and really believing in him and the people he’s surrounding himself with, it’s really the people that you want to be with and work with and learn from,” Conway, from St. Charles, said. “It’s just an incredible opportunity to learn from some really great people.”

“I love the idea that this job is a chance to really have the ability to help craft decisions that can actually make Missouri a little better place,” Conway said. 

The essence of the Capitol building isn’t lost on Conway: “It’s a majestic place to come to work and the beauty of the building is awe-inspiring. To be able to come to work here every day is really a reminder of the responsibility and trust they put on you.” 

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanConwayMO

Frank Catanzaro; Chief of staff to Sen. Andrew Koenig

For Frank Catanzaro, finding a career that would give him an opportunity to help other people was always at the forefront of his mind. And so he found himself diving into politics while still in college. 

Catanzaro, 29, serves as the chief of staff to Sen. Andrew Koenig, a powerful and respected member of the upper chamber’s Conservative Caucus. Often filled with “unexpected challenges,” Catanzaro’s days are spent deftly navigating Koenig’s legislative agenda, media, and constituents. 

“I enjoy the challenging environment and the people I work with,” Catanzaro said. “Every day is full of surprises. Relationships are key, whether it is with elected officials, colleagues, or constituents. I’m a communications guy, so I enjoy interacting and sharing our offices’ work and delivering updates on the legislative progress being made.” 

“But most importantly, you must have integrity and a willingness to overcome obstacles and find realistic solutions” to work in the Capitol, he said. 

Catanzaro got his start in politics through College Republicans while he studied journalism at the University of Missouri. There, Catanzaro grew the chapter’s conservative coalition and began getting involved in grassroots politics and public policy research. 

Before joining Koenig, Catanzaro ran the communications efforts for the Show-Me Institute, a St. Louis-based think tank. He also currently serves as the president of the St. Louis Young Republicans. 

“Frank is extremely dedicated, effective, and hardworking,” Koenig said. “He is a huge asset to my office as my chief of staff.” 

Catanzaro said he has respect for Koenig’s “dedication and passion for the people of his district.” And as he emulates his boss’ devotion, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing Catanzaro around Missouri politics for quite some time.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @frankjcatanzaro

Sarah Jones; Assistant attorney general 

At just 24 years old, Sarah Jones joined the Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general of special litigation in August 2019, making her one of the youngest members of the team. And one year later, she’s already made an ineffaceable mark on the office. 

Jones, now 25, spends her days arguing in court, writing briefs, taking and defending depositions, and working on policy initiatives, along with a whole host of other tasks. She was also recently named to the office’s Human Trafficking Taskforce. 

“Working for the best state in the United States is an honor and privilege I do not take lightly,” Jones said. “I am incredibly thankful to work for a politician who leads his administration with the best interests of the state in mind and honored to be a part of his vision for this office and Missouri.”

Jones splits her time between offices in Jefferson City and Kansas City; the latter of which has no greater fan than Jones. Although born in Springfield, Jones has spent most of her life in Kansas City where she lives with her dog, Hamilton. 

Jones is an alumna of Rockhurst University and Saint Louis University School of Law. She ran the city council campaign for Quinton Lucas, now Kansas City’s mayor, and served as a summer associate at Shook, Hardy, & Bacon. She also worked for an organization in New York focused on government transparency and accountability. 

“I first met Sarah when she took the American Civics course I taught at Saint Louis University. From the start, Sarah struck me as extremely gifted and committed to the law and our Constitution as a framework that provides a beacon of hope for Missourians and Americans of all walks of life,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Since coming to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, she has proven that my first impression was spot on.” 

Sarah doesn’t take the office’s unofficial motto — “defend the state of Missouri in cases of significant public interest” — lightly. Her drive and aplomb have propelled her into what she has described as her dream job, but her determination, integrity, and dedication to Missouri have already solidified her as a beacon of success in the state. 

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahejones_

Andrew Arnold; Associate at Arnold & Associates

Growing up around government consulting his whole life, it was only natural that after Andrew Arnold found himself in Texas “spinning his wheels,” he came home. 

The Wright City native started his political career in Texas with former U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions following graduation from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Despite a brief stint in law school, Arnold remained active in Texas politics for a few years, working various campaign roles and helping friends with a consulting firm. 

But eventually, Arnold, 26, felt life had gotten mundane, “doing the same thing over and over.” His father’s firm was growing; it was a “natural transition” to come home to Missouri where he became an associate at Arnold & Associates in November 2019.

“This is my first session with my dad, and probably the most fun and greatest learning experience I could have all in one time,” Arnold said. “I couldn’t have imagined it going any better than it did.” 

Arnold said his work now is a “nice change of pace” from what he did with campaigns. 

“I personally am a lot more motivated by dealing with people who are already elected and seeing where they’re coming from,” he said. “You get to work with people who have different perspectives as opposed to doing campaigns. It’s refreshing to see there are a lot more ways to look at something.” 

His father, Charles Andy Arnold, said he’s always hoped his children would join his firm if they so chose and was “delighted” when his son did just that. 

“Andrew brings strong interpersonal and communications skills to Arnold & Associations gained by working field operations, events coordination, and fundraising on several high-profile campaigns in the Dallas, Texas area,” he said. “Andrew’s work ethic, can-do attitude, political instincts, and insights gained interacting with elected officials at all levels make him a natural addition to the Arnold & Associates government affairs team.” 

And while his father is one of the most venerable lobbyists in the Missouri Capitol, the younger Arnold is quickly paving his own way in politics. 

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @MrTheGovernor

Elisabeth Condon; Legislative assistant for Reps. LaDonna Appelbaum and Trish Gunby 

At just 24 years old, Elisabeth Condon’s dedication to her state — and in particular, government — has already solidified her as a go-to source for knowledge among House Democrats, staffers, and reporters alike. 

Condon has spent several years working in the Capitol, first as an intern for Sen. Jill Schupp while she was still attending Truman State University, and then as a legislative assistant for Rep. Donna Baringer. 

Now, she serves Reps. LaDonna Appelbaum and Trish Gunby in the House. On any given day, Condon can be found sitting in a committee hearing (often live-tweeting the intricacies of the proceedings), tracking down historical implications of legislation, teaching interns how to read bills, or helping constituents with unemployment issues. 

“I love Missouri. I have lived here almost my entire life. It’s really important that people understand how their government works — both for and against them,” Condon said. “I’ve got a lot of passion for that.” 

Part of her desire to “make things better” stems from watching the Ferguson protests in 2014 following the death of Michael Brown. She started work in the Capitol just a few years later, but the aftermath was still reverberating in the halls. 

“It gives you a lot of insight,” she said. “I just realized how good I’ve had it because the system was built to benefit people who look like me and my family.” 

Gunby came to the Missouri House following a special election in November 2019. And she credits her smooth transition to the legislature to Condon. 

“Arriving halfway through session after winning my special election meant I needed an LA who could get me up and running,” she said. “Elisabeth did that and more. Her knowledge of state politics and the processes in play made my transition seamless.” 

“Honestly, I am not surprised that she is a 30 Under 30 [recipeient],” Appelbaum said. “Her work ethic and passion for good policy and good people are amazing. She is more than my LA; she is a dear friend that helps me in so many ways.” 

Aside from her work in the Capitol, Condon also serves as the campaign manager for House candidate Jacque Sample and is the president of the Mid-Missouri Young Democrats. 

“My go-to [motto] is: Young people are powerful, and we get shit done,” Condon said. “You don’t have to have worked in this building long to be knowledgeable or good at this type of work. I’ve got a lot of energy and passion, and there’s a lot of other young people in this state who are just like me.”

Follow Elisabeth on Twitter: @ElisabethCMO

Michaela Newell; Director of Professional Affairs and Director of CPESN-Missouri at the Missouri Pharmacy Association 

Michaela Newell has a heart for service and that shines through in her work at the Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA), an organization known for its tireless advocacy for pharmacists at both the state and national levels.

Newell serves as the Director of Professional Affairs and Director of CPESN-Missouri (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network) where she attends Board of Pharmacy meetings, guide pharmacists through the Capitol in tandem with the association’s lobbyist, and work with pharmacies to take care of their needs along with those of their patients. Additionally, she runs a network of more than 100 innovative pharmacies in Missouri through CPESN. 

And Newell, 25, is standing at the forefront of Missouri’s pharmaceutical world. 

“We get to enter into an ever-changing health care system, providing medical services through pharmacies and enhancing patient outcomes in partnership with other health care providers, insurance companies, employers, and health departments,” Newell said. “It is exciting be a part of moving the profession of pharmacy forward through enhanced services to patients beyond just dispensing medication. Look for Missouri pharmacists to be a leader in the nation in moving our profession forward.” 

In pharmacy school in Iowa, Newell knew she wanted to work for an association — and there are only five association fellowship programs in the U.S. for pharmacists. After sitting down with MPA CEO Ron Fitzwater, Newell decided to move one state south. 

“Michaela has a rare ability to connect diverse partners in very complicated projects that the Missouri Pharmacy Association is creating,” Fitzwater said. 

“Michaela is such an impressive young professional. Not only is she great at her job and an inspiring personality, but she has, in very short order, become a leader in Jefferson City by her service to others,” Rep. Travis Fitzwater, director of strategic initiatives at MPA, said. “I’m proud to know her, work with her, and call her a friend.” 

Newell is unabashedly dedicated to her community and those around her, and she’s interested in one day running for elected office as a way to even further give back. But for now, Newell is set in her “dream job.” 

“I have so many mentors both in the Missouri Pharmacy Association and other associations to thank for that,” Newell said. “Having access to that community and family of people who work together both on a national and state level is really fun. To be on the cusp of innovative practices — both through advocacy in the Capitol and through the private sector in the services network — it’s awesome to mesh those together.” 

Newell lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Kyrell, who said: “Michaela’s faith drives her to make sure everyone she meets knows they are valued and cared about. For her, her work is first and foremost about meeting people’s needs to improve their lives.”

Follow Michaela on Twitter: @MichaelaNewelll

Freddy Barnes; Chief of staff to Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin

For someone who didn’t plan to work in politics, Freddy Barnes sure has taken the Capitol by storm, transitioning from an aide in the lower chamber to chief of staff to a Conservative Caucus senator in only three years. 

Barnes, 26, has served as chief of staff to Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin — a lawmaker Barnes has long admired — for a little more than a year now. And this year, when O’Laughlin was appointed to chair her first Senate committee in the middle of session, the transition was “seamless” — and certainly due in part to Barnes’ past work. 

Prior to joining O’Laughlin’s office, Barnes served as a legislative assistant to Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee. There, Barnes was inquisitive about the committee process, determined to learn the ins and outs. 

“Freddy is a great asset, particularly good at staying ahead of legislative issues,” O’Laughlin said. “I’ve appreciated his strong work ethic and his ability to handle multiple priorities simultaneously.” 

Barnes says he sort of “fell into politics.” After college, he ended back at his home in St. Louis where he waited tables and bartended after his post-graduation plans fell through. He was considering going back to school when he had a conversation with his father and a family friend connected to Jefferson City politics. 

Before he knew it, Barnes found himself wandering the halls of the Capitol during the 2017 veto session with a stack of resumes in hand. He met then-Rep. Shawn Rhoads who shared an office with Rep. Holly Rehder — who just so happened to be hiring. 

“None of the plans I’ve made in my life have gone the way I thought they’d go — which is phenomenal,” Barnes said. “I just try to work hard, and there’s a lot of luck involved. I really enjoy the work I do.”

Follow Freddy on Twitter: @fsbarnes22 

Chris Nuelle; Press secretary for Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Chris Nuelle is used to juggling. On any given day, he can be found vacillating between penning a press release regarding a human trafficking case to putting together an anti-crime event to aiding Attorney General Eric Schmitt in cracking down on crooked contractors.

“The breadth and depth of the Attorney General’s Office’s duties and responsibilities are huge — more than people realize,” Nuelle said. “We do a whole lot of different things, and cracking down on violent crime is one of the more important ones.”

Nuelle, 24, has served as Schmitt’s press secretary since January 2019 — a job that requires him to write quickly and be in constant communication with the press. And according to Nuelle, working with reporters to “help shape the message of the office” is one of the best parts of the job.

“Chris is very smart, has an incredible work ethic, and is committed to doing the right thing,” Schmitt said. “I’ve always been impressed with how good Chris is on his feet, providing open and honest information as he communicates with the news media on behalf of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Besides that, Chris’ sense of humor and good nature make him a joy to work with on a daily basis.”

Nuelle’s first Missouri political job came while he was still attending Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. During his sophomore year, he volunteered with Catherine Hanaway’s gubernatorial campaign to help with media relations and social media.

After graduation, the St. Louis native moved to New York to work for the Congressional Leadership Fund. But it wasn’t too long before he ultimately found his way back to the Show-Me State to do communications for the Missouri Republican Party.

But in working for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Nuelle has found a role model in his boss.

“He’s accessible, he’s down to earth, he’s easy to talk to. He has real motivation and drive to help the people of Missouri,” Nuelle said. “It’s rare to have someone in politics who cares about the state he represents as much as he does. It makes my job easier to know I’m working for someone who truly cares about the issues he’s working on.”

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisNuelleMO

Sarah Schlemeier Henke; Governmental affairs consultant at Gamble & Schlemeier

Sarah Schlemeier Henke is creative and inquisitive with a heart for the health care industry. And she’s translated her passions expertly into her work as a government affairs consultant at Gamble & Schlemeier.

Despite her dad’s successful lobbying career, Henke wasn’t always sure she wanted to follow down that path. She knew she wanted to dive deeper into the United States’ involvement in health care policy and took off into the nonprofit world immediately after graduating from the University of Missouri. One role, in particular, allowed Henke to connect with rural health clinics to educate them on how legislation debated in the Capitol would impact them.

“I made sure they understood how impactful their voice could be in Jefferson City and the importance of engaging with the association for a unified effort. Then I realized how influential this strategy was paired with lobbying,” the 28-year-old said.

Henke joined Gamble & Schlemeier in 2016 where she works with a bevy of health-related clients, including the Missouri Health Care Association and Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists along with a host of other physician and pharmacy groups.

“In health care, there’s just so much of an impact each policy has on people,” Henke said. “I really enjoy the creative environment where you can come up with different solutions and avenues you can take to deliver the intended result.”

“I thrive under high-pressure situations,” she continued. “I love looking at the statutes after the dust settles and remembering crossing out that one word and inserting another word instead when amendments were being thrown around and compromises being reached. It’s really good to see a high-pressure situation pay off.”

But aside from her work with the firm, Henke also founded Advocacy360, a Jefferson City-based organization that helps with the development and building of grassroots networks, in 2016.

“Through her work with our firm and broader efforts at Advocacy360, Sarah has become a guiding force in changing the way we approach creating comprehensive legislative strategies that help clients broaden their base of support and then effectively utilize it to win,” said Bill Gamble, president of Gamble & Schlemeier.

Henke is currently working toward her Master’s in public affairs through the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and is expected to graduate in December 2020.  She resides in Columbia with her husband, Hayden, and two pups.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sgsmolobby

Naeem Jenkins-Nixon; Managing political director of the Missouri Democrats 

Naeem Jenkins-Nixon is a director. Not of movies, like he thought he’d be when he studied communications in college, but of candidates, voters, volunteers, and more. At 29 years old, Jenkins-Nixon is the managing political director of the Missouri Democratic Party, a position he’s only held since March 2020.

“Naeem is a great part of the Missouri Democratic Party team,” Lauren Gepford, the party’s executive director, said. “His experience in government, non-profit, and campaigns has been beneficial to our political operations.”

Jenkins-Nixon came to Missouri earlier this year after spending more than a year at the Biden Institute in Delaware. A New York native, Jenkins-Nixon got his start in politics by working for Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown right after college. He worked first as a communications specialist before eventually climbing the ranks as a confidential aide where he handled both communications and policy work.

During the 2016 cycle, Jenkins-Nixon worked for the Democratic National Committee as an organizer in Western New York. But Missouri Democrats like state Sen. Jill Schupp and Auditor Nicole Galloway eventually attracted Jenkins-Nixon to Missouri.

“It was just a movement that seemed like something I wanted to be a part of. Coming from the Democratic side of politics, I think there can be a lot of great gains here, and I felt I could contribute in a positive manner,” he said.

As the managing political director of the Missouri Democrats, Jenkins-Nixon, who is based in St. Louis, provides a bevy of resources for candidates and staffers alike — including checking in on people’s mental health during campaigns.

“Moving the necessary pieces into place, it’s a great joy for me to do,” Jenkins-Nixon said. “I enjoy problem-solving and bringing folks to a consensus on ideas or topics, whether it’s staff or outside partners.”

And thus Jenkins-Nixon became a director after all.

Follow Naeem on Twitter: @NaeemJN1