Heather Curry, Director of External Affairs, Cato Institute
Cato Intern Class Fall 2010
How did you learn about the Cato Institute? What made you want to be an intern?
I first learned about Cato when I came across a piece in Politico that really struck a nerve with me. I reached out to the author, Roger Pilon, only to learn that he was head of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies. That email exchange led to my introduction to the internship program—when I was told that the internship offered both policy work and seminars on political philosophy, I was sold.
How did the internship affect the way you think about public policy and/or political philosophy?
I interned way back in 2010 and my experience continues to influence my understanding of public policy and the political dynamics which often benefit the few at the expense of the many. Whenever new must-have government interventions are floated, I recall seminars that addressed the origins of government intervention in various elements of life (education, for example) and am reminded that people are quite capable of thriving without the heavy hand of the state.
What kind of work are you doing now?
As the director of external affairs at Cato, my primary role is to oversee outreach to state and national organizations. These outreach efforts function to amplify the work of Cato’s policy scholars and to ensure that the libertarian perspective is reflected in as many places as possible. I also manage Cato’s outreach to state legislators.
What advice can you offer to fellow alumni who want to secure a job like yours?
I would advise those interested in pursuing a career at the intersection of policy and communication to work diligently at building their professional networks. Find a potential mentor, take him or her out to coffee and start asking questions. Also, be nice. Ambition is an excellent motivator but one can find success without burning bridges along the way. Plus, positive relationships can make all the difference when you need a favor in a pinch.
What’s something important — policy, philosophy, or something else — that you’ve changed your mind about recently? Why?
I’ve recently realized that ketchup on hot dogs is truly an abomination.
What makes you feel most optimistic about the future of liberty?
The Cato internship program is extremely competitive and this is reflected in the quality of our intern classes—that alone gives me reason to be optimistic! It’s great that so many bright young people are interested in libertarianism and want to dedicate time to understanding and protecting their freedoms. I am also encouraged to see public opinion shifting towards positions long held by libertarians, with recent examples including support for marijuana legalization and marriage equality.