Wildcat Tracks: Lane Anderson Koch ’04

In this upcoming election year, it’s easy to feel bombarded by candidate information. The constant television ads, mailers, and social media posts may have us agreeing with the Henry Kissinger quote, “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other 10 percent a bad reputation.” But have you ever wondered about the people working behind the political scenes? Those who are putting in long days, helping with speeches, and educating voters? We recently caught up with Lane Anderson Koch, owner/political and government affairs consultant for Arena Campaigns, LLC. We’ve had the joy of sharing her story before and wanted to get her insights and hear how Westminster shaped her journey.

Lane had an early interest in politics thanks to time spent with her dad, “My father had three hobbies: hunting, music, and politics. Each of my sisters and I gravitated towards one of them. Mine was politics,” Lane said. “My Dad took me to campaign offices to make volunteer calls, pick up yard signs, and attend election night watch parties. I was enamored by seeing all the staffers working so hard to make it happen. I knew from a young age that this was what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted a career with purpose.”

As a student at Westminster, Lane’s focus on that career became more clear. “By the time I was in high school, I took my interest in politics to a new level. I was involved in the student council and continued to volunteer on campaigns outside of school. My political interest even earned me the nickname ‘Senator’ from our former WCA principal, Mr. Drexler.”

“My time at Westminster had a significant impact on me. I was not a confident student to start. I struggled with math (I still do). It was Mr. Hughes and Mrs. Keith who told me I was a good writer. This was the encouragement I needed. No one is going to be good at every subject, and that’s okay. As a professional, you do not need to be either! Focus on developing your interests and gifts, and you’ll have a successful career. And you can hire someone to do that math for you — Praise the Lord!”

“Another lesson I learned at Westminster is one that I have implemented in my political consulting to this day. (For the students reading this, please note that your biggest life lessons come from failures, not successes!) I ran for class president during my senior year of high school, but I lost. My speech was serious, with practical, doable campaign promises. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, my opponent did a fun rap for her speech, and she won. I may have had good ideas, but I failed to get my voters’ attention. It was a valuable lesson in the importance of pairing the right message with the right audience. If they aren’t paying attention, they’ll never hear your ideas in the first place.”

Lane attended Taylor University, where she briefly considered majoring in journalism before switching to political science. She also gained some valuable experience, “During college, I volunteered for the Bush Presidential campaign and interned in Senator Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond’s office over the summer. Taylor University had a wonderful political science department. My professors were of a different political persuasion than I, but they welcomed the free exchange of ideas. This really helped deepen my ability to defend my values,” she explained. “We had the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington D.C. for credit hours, where we took courses and interned on The Hill. I jumped at the opportunity to spend my last semester of college interning in Senator Bond’s Washington D.C. press office. When my semester was over, I was offered a job in either the D.C. or St. Louis office. I moved back to Missouri and took the role that led to every other opportunity that I have had since.”

Today, a typical day on the job for Lane looks different from when she first started her career. For starters, gone are the crazy hours. “A career in politics is suitable for every season of life. When I was younger and kid-free, I worked so hard that I would only go home to shower and then return to the campaign office,” she said. “I traveled to over 20 states to work on campaigns; it was very exciting! Now, as a mother of three, I have much more balance in my schedule. Every day, I work with my clients to achieve their goals. Some days involve writing an opinion editorial for a government affairs client, while other days require creating a direct mail piece for a political candidate. I work while my children are at school, and my evenings are a mix of kids’ sporting events and campaign events.”

For someone looking for a job in which no two days are the same, this industry meets the bill. “If you like variety, a career in politics might be for you. I have worked in Congress, maintaining an 8-5 office schedule. I’ve also worked on campaigns at every level, from city council to presidential, often working around the clock with a sleeping bag under the desk. I’ve been employed in political consulting firms and issue advocacy non-profits. Now, I own my own firm and work as a political and government affairs consultant. What I love about this work is that there is no ‘typical day’; at least, no two days are alike.” Like any job, this one does come with its ups and downs. “You won’t be shocked to learn there are negatives to working in politics. People tell me all the time, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Politics can be toxic,” Lane said. “There are two types of people who run for office and work in politics: those who want to do something and those who want to be somebody. Even when you only take on purpose-driven clients, you are going to encounter individuals who are in politics for ego and proximity to power. The challenging part of this work is helping good people achieve success when these folks get in the way.”

To maintain perspective, Lane stays focused on what she describes as her favorite part of work, helping first-time candidates run for office. “Many people feel that running for office is only for the wealthy and well-connected. They often do not know where to start or feel that the big consulting firms are too expensive. My passion is making professional political strategy approachable so that everyone feels equipped and empowered to run for office or get involved in the political space confidently and with success,” she said. “I am in the process of launching a non-profit that will provide free resources for young women who want to work in politics or run for office. We will be pairing them with a seasoned mentor because I believe it is important to ‘be who you needed when you were younger.’ We need more people to engage in the public square. Helping people do so is where it’s at.”

For more information or to contact Lane:
Instagram: @ItsLane Koch
Twitter: Arena_Campaigns

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