by Rick Barton

Hadley Heath is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum where she specializes in health care, entitlements, economics, fiscal and public policy. Heath’s interest in politics grew slowly over time. “I always thought that only politicians worked in politics… When I was little I wanted to be the first female president, but what little girl didn’t want that?”

Heath was not without political influence; her grandfather was a campaign man for both Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms, as well as the author of five books on conservative thought. “That sort of thing has a way of bleeding through. He’s probably a bigger influence on me than I realize.”

Heath says that she was always asking questions and driving her teachers crazy but it wasn’t until high school when her mom told her about non-profits that she learned about policy. She began college pursuing a degree in journalism and dramatic arts. Dramatic arts was quickly swapped for a degree in economics. “I heard the saying, ‘Nothing is more political than theater and there is nothing more theatrical than politics’ and here I am.”

As to the greatest current threat to liberty, Heath focused on the lack of virtue cultivation in society. “It’s not always popular, especially among libertarians, to acknowledge that there is an important place for virtue or to strive towards virtue in society. We can help others live better, just not through legislation.”

Heath says that the family structure has traditionally been the source of that virtue cultivation but with a changing family structure, which is not necessarily bad, has come an increasing reliance on the government to cultivate virtue which is a mistake.

When asked what was the greatest challenge she has faced in her career she stated that the greatest difficulty with working in policy is the intangible nature of the results. Where doctors and teachers can see the direct results of their work, for those in policy success isn’t nearly as visible.

Another difficulty she says is that in working with a small non-profit there is a lot of uncertainty, each day she is doing something different and while it can be rewarding that uncertainty can be stressful at times. “Truly though I can say that I’ve been blessed. I’ve been in the right places at the right times.”

According to Heath, being in the right place at the right time is not always due to luck. Her advice to young professionals is that, “As a general rule, always say yes to new experiences… always say yes to something the first time and if you hate it, you don’t have to do it again. Saying yes allows you to experience new things and figure out what you love.” Heath credits her success to saying yes to so many different roles and responsibilities which in turn presented more opportunities.

As a closing topic Heath talked about how America’s Future Foundation has helped her in achieving her career goals. “The panels and events that AFF have done have been especially beneficial. They allow you to meet the people behind the ideas. When you’re just starting out, having an opportunity to meet and network with those even a few years ahead of you can be really helpful.”

Read her bio and latest work here.

Rick Barton is an intern with America’s Future Foundation and a graduate of SUNY Geneseo.