Powerville to Capitol Hill
It is not every day that someone from Mountain Lakes is recognized by Forbes. For Lauren Aronson, it was merely another addition in a growing list of professional accomplishments. Recently, the 29-year-old Mountain Lakes High School graduate (’07) was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list for her work as Press Secretary for the House Ways & Means Committee. Throughout her life, Lauren has excelled at taking advantage of every opportunity at every level – be it in high school, college, and beyond. Her mindset has enabled her to achieve great successes; most recently, helping lead the communication strategy for the first overhaul of the federal tax code since 1986. We sat down with Lauren to hear about her Mountain Lakes experience and how it has influenced her pursuit of challenging and rewarding work that she is undertaking now.
MLAA: When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
LA: What year was this? In first grade…1996.
MLAA: How would you describe your time in town?
LA: Mountain Lakes is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name – in a good way! I loved the comfort of a small town. I also loved the focus on academic excellence. The people I grew up with and went to school with understood how fortunate we were to get an education in such a well-respected and competitive school district – and we took advantage of the opportunity. Because of Mountain Lakes’ academic rigor, I was especially prepared to excel when I got to college.
MLAA: What clubs/sports/activities were you involved with during high school?
LA: My claim to fame, so to speak, was the Mountaineer. I worked on the newspaper for four years with Mr. Leonardi (who I still look up to as a mentor) and served as co-editor-in-chief with Aly Callahan during our senior year. I also played lacrosse, participated in the musicals, and volunteered for several organizations, including Patterson Connection, Key Club, and Wildwood Mentors.
MLAA: How did you initially get involved in politics/government?
LA: Teach for America. After working in the classroom in New Orleans and seeing how broken our nation’s education system truly was, I wanted to get involved in education policy in D.C. I felt as though I could make a more meaningful and lasting difference for kids by working in the education policy space. So I went to work at a think tank doing communication for their education policy department. From there, I realized there are so many policy issues I wanted to help shape and communicate to the American people. Years later, I helped get education reform legislation signed into law as the press secretary for the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
MLAA: What has been the most rewarding thing you have done or achieved in your career?
LA: Helping lead the communication strategy behind the first overhaul of the nation’s tax code in 31 years.
MLAA: What has been the most challenging task you have had to handle?
LA: Managing our message in the media in such a challenging politic climate.
MLAA: How has the current political climate affected your job/career?
LA: I definitely don’t sleep as much as I used to. A lot of the Republican agenda falls under our Committee’s jurisdiction. So we have certainly had our hands full over the last year.
MLAA: What was your initial reaction to being named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list?
LA: Disbelief! I got the news the same week that our Committee passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I guess when it rains with good news, it pours.
MLAA: Who are some of the well-known politicians who you have gotten to work with?
LA: I get to work directly with our Committee Chairman, Kevin Brady from Texas most frequently. When the House is in session, I meet with him daily – sometimes more depending on how much media we have planned. In addition to the Members on our Committee, I have also gotten to work with a lot of Members of leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan, and other Members who were very involved in tax reform.
MLAA: How did growing up and attending schools in Mountain Lakes impact your career?
LA: Mountain Lakes (and the teachers, the families, the coaches, and the neighbors who are a part of this tight-knit community) gave me the tools to excel in college and shaped a lot of who I am today.
MLAA: What advice do you have to students trying to get started in your field?
LA: Take advantage of every opportunity Mountain Lakes—and all of its surroundings—has to offer. And find what you love and invest in it. Mountain Lakes has a big focus on sports, but that’s not for everyone. And that’s okay! Do something that allows you to learn and grow in your own unique way.
MLAA: If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, real or fictional, who would they be?
LA: I’d prefer to do a ladies lunch for four instead of dinner for three with my twin sister and best friend, Meredith; the funniest woman I wish I knew, Ellen DeGeneres; and two rock star TV anchors/former political communicators: Nicole Wallace and Dana Perino.
MLAA: Thank you, Lauren, and best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors!
See Lauren’s Forbes “30 Under 30” article here.
Who Should Be Our Next Laker in the Spotlight?
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