Gayatri Agnew is a Sr. Director of Opportunity Giving at a Corporate Foundation, who in Feb 2018 decided to run for the Arkansas State House. While some may say that running for office isn’t a “business”, I would disagree. In many ways, it’s just like a startup. Overnight, she worked to create an organization, built a team and created a mission for her campaign. As a successful business woman, Gayatri took a business-driven approach to her campaign and has created a compelling vision, mission and value statement that is resonating with her constituents.
People for Gayatri Agnew – Campaign for Arkansas State House.
Vision: Bentonville will be a new American town where all feel welcome and included. A community where all can thrive regardless of where they come from or how long they are here.
Mission: Working together we will run a strategic campaign to both elect Gayatri to the AR state house and build a stronger civic foundation so Bentonville can be its best today and into the future
Values: · Above all else preserve and protect our democracy. · We are all better together and every voice matters. · Be smart. Work hard.
We asked Gayatri to tell the Tribute community a bit more about her, and what inspired her to venture into politics.
How old are you?
Where were you raised?
I was born in East Palo Alto, CA and raised in the Bay Area.
What you want to be known for?
I want to be known for being brave enough to try something hard and for acting with grace and integrity. Above all else I am seeking to create a path for more people and more voices to be heard and engaged in our democracy. Our civic infrastructure is sacred and as citizens we need to invest it. Democracy isn’t something that America is, it is something that America does – it’s an action.
What made you decide to start your venture?
Tell us about YOUR WHY. My why is rooted in three things: History, privilege and responsibility. My history. I was raised by a single mother on welfare- I was raised in public housing – I attended a private school on a full scholarship and a public high school with a college going culture – I am a product of good public policy – investments made in my mom allowed her to go from being on welfare to landing a teaching job and supporting our family without government assistance. I am where I am today because of the support she got when I was a child.
I was able to put myself through college and get my MBA all while working and going to school. I was privileged to have the opportunity to not only attend college but to go on to attend graduate school. I truly believe that while talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not. I was given unique assess to opportunity and today I work for a major corporation – a true dream job. I get to raise my family without worrying on a daily basis about where I will live or how to feed my kids- but many families in Arkansas don’t have that luxury. This is privilege I have earned. And with it I take on great responsibility to both preserve and protect American Democracy and to be a voice and an advocate for families who are working hard to get ahead and need public policy to make their lives a little easier and a little better.
Did you leave a cozy Corporate job? Or start a side hustle?
The Arkansas State House is designed to be a “citizen legislature” so serving in office is meant to compliment your day job – so I guess you could say this is my “side hustle” and the hustle is for Democracy.
What inspires you to keep going when the going gets tough?
Two things. My dad. My father died suddenly 6 years ago – when he passed my entire world was shaken to the core – irrespective of the complexity of the relationships we have with our parents there is nothing like losing a parent. His death was the best lesson in bravery I have ever learned. When I feel tired or I feel frustrated, I remind myself that I’m here – I’m alive – unlike my dad and I get to live to fight another day. The second thing which keeps me going are my two children. Rohan (age 4) and Kamala (age 2) – I am fighting for good public policy in Arkansas because Arkansas is their home. I want them, and all of the children in Arkansas, to have every opportunity and be given the chance to build a strong community and live a productive and happy life.
And finally, we asked Gayatri to answer these three questions.
My favorite self-care routine is...
Grace. I give myself grace on a daily basis. It’s hard to be kind to yourself and to be patient with yourself but I have learned to do this – which means calming the voice that says do it all and just do what you can in the time you have (I’ll confess to you a permanent pile of clean but unfolded laundry).
The last book I read was ….
“New Power” by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans
My best advice to fellow female founder is…
Be rave and ask for help. Part of being brave is recognizing your limitations and asking for help. My dear friend Kristi and I always remind each other that “you can do it all, just not all at once – and never alone” – anything and everything is possible. It’s entirely a question of priorities, trade-offs and how hard you’re willing to work. You can make your life whatever you want it to be – the only thing holding you back is your own fear.