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What Journalism Taught This Iowa State Senator: 'You Can't Over-Communicate'

State Senator, Iowa

1811_Liz Mathis 11a
As a journalist in Iowa for 27 years, Liz Mathis covered a lot of politics. “I had the opportunity to interview everyone from Reagan to Obama,” she says, “and I mean everyone.” 

In 2011, Mathis decided to enter the fray herself, jumping into a special election for state senate to preserve the Democratic Party’s majority in the chamber. She campaigned for seven weeks, raised over a million dollars and won. “I came in definitely a champion of the Democrats, and definitely with a target on my back from the Republicans,” she says. 

Mathis was just the 34th woman elected to the Iowa Senate since women’s suffrage, and she’s helped recruit others to run for office. As a lawmaker, she’s focused on mental health services for children and fighting the privatization of Medicaid. Her advice to other women in government is exactly what you’d expect from a member of the media: “Communicate, communicate, communicate. My journalism background really prepared me well for life in politics, because you’re constantly working with constituents and colleagues who have interest in issues you’re trying to pass or stop. You can’t over-communicate.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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