Lizzy (Guyton) Johnson '10 majored in English at Union College. Today, she is communications director for Governor Charlie Baker (R-Mass.). She previously worked on three campaigns in New Hampshire and Indiana, most recently serving as communications director for Senator Scott Brown. Lizzy also worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
I wear many hats, but the best part of my work is crisis communications. It puts me on the front lines of most crises that impact the residents of the Commonwealth. On any given day, news can break that requires an immediate response from the governor or the administration that must be prompt, clear and informative to the public. This aspect of my job is an adrenaline rush and an incredibly fulfilling role in public service. Recently, managing the pandemic has been a major undertaking. For many weeks, my team and I planned daily press conferences to communicate the latest news on the virus or to announce major changes that affected everyone – from school and business closures to testing programs.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
Governor Baker has been a personal and professional inspiration for me. I respect his bipartisan governing style and leadership, but I mostly admire his ability to put people before politics. He has led Massachusetts with his heart, not his ego. The governor places a great deal of confidence in his cabinet and staff, giving people space to demonstrate their value and share their expertise. As a young professional, he put a great deal of confidence in me to work on his communications team and empowered me to grow to where I am today. I try to emulate that with my own team.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
Pursue a career path where you have room to grow and embrace the unknown. I primarily took my first job because I wanted to pursue a communications role in a fast-paced environment. Political communications exposed me to situations and opportunities that far exceeded my expectations – and still do. I have moved all over the country, worked on Capitol Hill, and driven the messaging for high-profile current events that will be part of history. My other advice is to stay focused on your own goals and pay less attention to the noise. I think the overwhelming presence of elements like social media can often be distracting and negative. Keep challenging yourself to form opinions and shape new goals from your own experience – and “unplug” often.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
Traveling abroad to Germany my junior year and participating in Greek life. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn and travel Europe, but I was immersed in history and culture. It was particularly fascinating – and humbling – to get to know Germans who had different viewpoints and interpretations of the United States and our government. Joining a sorority often gets a bad rap, but I gained a lot of valuable leadership and management skills from different positions and met many of my closest friends. It ended up being a great introduction to politics, too.