Regent Law Alum Colleen Holmes (’99) was recently given her dream job. Ever since she encountered conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly’s writings as a student at Wellesley College, Holmes has considered Schlafly to be a personal hero, and Schlafly’s Eagle Forum to be her dream employer.
“[Schlafly] helped me put into perspective much of the feminist literature I was exposed to as an undergraduate. I sought out her writings to provide a conservative counterpoint to my assigned reading, and I came to regard her as an excellent role model; as a woman who was too busy being effective at what she did, being a wife, a mother and an activist, to complain about being a woman” Working with the Eagle Forum became a goal, but after working in non policy-oriented jobs for most my career I had sort of given up. I would have been happy to lick stamps at the Eagle Forum but it seemed God’s timing was perfect, and here I am.”
Since September 2008, Holmes has worked as Eagle Forum’s Executive Director of the Capitol Hill office.
The Eagle Forum is a conservative grassroots organization founded by Schlafly in 1972. The organization grew from a group of moms, grandmothers, and other women concerned for their communities into a multi-faceted political organization that is aimed at protecting America’s unique way of life. “We have as our mission,” said Holmes, “that America will continue to be a land of individual liberty, respect for life, public and private virtue, and private enterprise.”
Holmes has had to hit the ground running. Because she was hired just before the 2008 elections and because the legislature is now in session, there has never been a slow day. As Executive Director she has a leadership role in nearly all the Eagle Forum’s activities, which include communicating issues of political import to a national membership and state leaders, and coordinating a political action committee, which includes networking and interviewing candidates for endorsement.
The Eagle Forum also participates in grassroots lobbying. “The stimulus package offers a great illustration of what the Eagle Forum does,” said Holmes, “Once the Members of Congress were given the draft of the stimulus package, they had fourteen hours to read over 1000 pages. Considering the legislative language, that was some task!”
Armed with knowledge of what the bill entailed, Holmes and her colleagues worked to raise awareness among the legislature and send alerts to Eagle Forum’s membership to spread the word. “We had spent all week learning from experts, watching online resources, and going to meetings. When the time was right, we encouraged our members to contact their Senators and Representatives and let them know our view on the damage that could be done by some of the proposals.”
Part of Eagle Forum’s unique mission comes from what Holmes describes as its founder’s unique ability to foresee unintended consequences of laws and policies. “Phyllis Schlafly has a gift of understanding how policies that might sound good on the surface can be very damaging as applied,” said Holmes. Eagle Forum is strategically poised to educate law makers about the potential impact of these policies.
Pleasantly surprised by the people she’s met since moving to D.C., Holmes said, “You’d think that people who spend too much time here have to get cynical, but it hasn’t been my experience. I’ve met many Members of Congress and staffers who are making huge sacrifices because they believe in being true public servants. They are positive, brilliant, and really understand the issues.”
Ironically, now that she has the job of her dreams she’s realized she could give it up. “If God didn’t want me here, I would leave. Just because I am involved with the things that are of national interest, the things that are in the news, they aren’t the most important things. People’s live being impacted by His power, that’s the most important thing.”
Luckily, the ‘most important thing’ easily intersects with her duties at the Eagle Forum. Tasked with figuring out what is important to Americans so that Eagle Forum can effectively advocate for those values, Holmes spends her time building relationships. “My gifts and talents are really summed up in this: the ability to talk. So, I use that to get to know people and then communicate their desire to make an impact.”
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