When she started college at the University of Findlay, Lydia Mihalik had a clear path laid out for herself: undergrad, law school and then hopefully a job as a lobbyist. But after working for the city while in college, her plans changed. She was offered a full-time job with the city after graduation, and she hasn’t left Findlay since.
She first gained the trust of Findlay residents while working as a grant administrator; she was able to secure $18 million for the area, including funds that saved 13 police officer positions that had been slated for elimination. During the economic downturn of the Great Recession, she began eyeing the mayor’s seat. “The standard mayor was an older white man in his 60s or 70s,” she says. “I just knew it was ripe for someone with a lot of energy.”
Mihalik won in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. Findlay is a conservative city, she says, but it has embraced her as its first female mayor (and as a city leader who’s in her 30s). “My husband is the first dude, and I’ve been pregnant in office,” Mihalik says. “I want young professionals to see it’s possible to have a family and a rewarding career.”