Anne Kavanagh Blankenhorn
Hometown: Haslett, Mich.
Role: Education policy advisor. Blankenhorn is also a member of NCSL’s Education Standing Committee. 19265
Years of legislative service: 23
The best advice she’s ever received: “Don’t get between senators.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
My sister worked for a state representative at the time, and the school where I was teaching was not doing very well—so I decided to “change gears.” I had always been interested in politics, so I thought it was a great opportunity!
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
I guess it would be my ability to listen and to understand what others (especially students, school staff and teachers) are experiencing. I know teachers’ lives have always been hard, but given the pandemic and the hardships students come into the classroom with, I know it is extra difficult these days. Students themselves also have challenges and, with social media, I think they have more to deal with in that regard than what we ever were faced with.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t get between senators.” It popped in my head just now! I was given that advice on my first day of work by my boss all those years ago. In my position, all of the Republican senators are my bosses and I need to respect all their opinions.
Who or what inspires you?
Everyone who works for students inspires me, from parents and teachers to—believe it or not—the lobbyists I know. They are all good people and they all really do have the students’ best interests at heart.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
I love Michigan’s natural beauty and sense of history. Of course, our freshwater Great Lakes offer so much for our own residents and tourists—from the sand dunes to the boating and swimming and, of course, the beautiful sunsets that cannot be equaled. The history is intriguing, too. I studied French, so I love Michigan’s French connection: Pere Marquette, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, an early Michigan explorer and the man who founded Detroit (which is also a French name), and the great fur trappers who were good friends with the Native people.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
We have a good local magazine called Bridge Michigan. It helps me to step back and see the real issues, especially when I have my nose to the grindstone too much. I also watch the evening news every day to get my fill of what’s going on nationally and around the globe.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.