Jean Evans is a former Missouri state representative, now the Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. She spoke to the Women’s Foundation about her background as a public servant, the challenges she has faced, and why she hopes even more women get involved in their communities.
What made you decide to get involved in public service?
I’ve always been involved in helping my community in various ways. I served on the Boards of NAWBO and PWA, serving as President of PWA. I’ve also done a lot of volunteer work. I started investigating how to get involved in Public Policy, which lead me to meet more people in politics. Having a burning desire to help people and make my community a better place is what ultimately led me to politics.
What’s the biggest challenge or setback you’ve faced?
It’s common to face setbacks and challenges in politics, just as in life. Each one seems HUGE when it happens, but afterwards it often doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, my campaign made a mistake on a mailer, claiming an endorsement that I did not have in the 2018 race. I was mortified that it happened, and that so many people felt I was misrepresenting myself. I was more concerned about the public’s perception of me than I was in possibly losing the election. Big mistakes become bigger learning experiences. Learn and move on.
What is your advice to others, especially women, who want to get involved in public service?
DO IT! Go to events, email your representatives and ask to meet for coffee, talk to people who are in public service, and volunteer on a campaign. Women often wait to be asked, whereas Men assume they are qualified and raise their hand. Society needs women to raise their hands more often with regard to public service.
Is there anything that has surprised you about public service?
You hear so many negative things about politicians, lobbyists, and people in politics. The big surprise is how many amazing people you actually meet, who are committed to serving their communities.
What’s your favorite thing about serving in your role?
I get to meet so many amazing people. One of my jobs is to recruit candidates, so I get to ask women, “Have you ever thought about running for office?”
How has your background shaped the way you serve your constituents?
I have a background in sales, so bringing good service to my constituents is a high priority as that is how I have been trained.
Have you ever had a mentor, or someone who inspired you?
Lots of mentors! But I have to give a shout out to Ann Wagner, who has been a tremendous mentor and support to me in my campaigns.
Here’s my closing thought: YOU can impact public policy. YOU can make your community better. Step up, speak out, and let your voice be heard.