It is high time another fellow Hoosier was featured in this column, and my friend April Gregory was a natural choice this time around. I met April last year in the thick of the campaign maelstrom of Election 2010. She was everywhere, working phones, walking precincts, covering debates and much, much more. No one worked in a more dedicated fashion to ensure that a message was sent at the ballot box to the Democrats on November 2.
I really began to know April well during our sojourn on what we Tweeters hashtagged the #PenceBus: Three days crisscrossing Indiana with Congressman Mike Pence, stopping at multiple rallies for state and national candidates. And I learned that April is not a shrinking wallflower. To the contrary, she is a strong and opinionated woman who isn’t afraid to ardently stand her ground. Ergo, this places April squarely in the ranks of other conservative ladies I have profiled in this series (Molly Teichman, Cheryl Prater, Emily Borkholder (another Hoosier!), Jenny Erikson…There will be many more in forthcoming profiles!)
April is a woman who is animated by deep-seated conviction, as any conservative definitionally is. But April doesn’t content herself with armchair punditry. Rather, she embodies boots-on-the-ground activism, and tirelessly advocates the same course of action to everyone else.
April has been a loyal friend to me and my family from Day 1, which I unequivocally appreciate. I should also note that April is a card-carrying member of a distinctive circle of females I admire (including my wife and Rachel Semmel, among others) whose knowledge of professional sports vastly exceeds my own…to their never-ending mirth.
If you don’t follow April on Twitter, start today. She interacts. I can assure you of abundant opportunities to further your acquaintance.
10 Questions for April Gregory
1. If memory serves, you’re a lifelong Hoosier girl! How has growing up in the Midwest and setting roots down here made you the woman you are today?
I am! I love Indiana and I treasure my upbringing in the Midwest. The conservative principles we value such as faith, family, hard work, honesty, gratitude, loyalty and simplicity, I hope to keep ever evident in my life. That’s not to mention our good ol’ Hoosier hospitality, basketball and Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches!
2. Several of us met your brother a month ago or so and asked him, “Has April always been interested in politics?” He seemed to remember a lengthy continuum of this sort of thing. Was his assessment correct and what do you enjoy most about being active in politics?
Yes, my interest in politics did start long ago. When I was younger though, it was mostly the county level I followed closely. My curiosity about the state and national levels developed more as I got closer to voting age. What I enjoy most is probably the outlet politics affords of speaking my mind. Somehow, in general, I manage to be both shy and outspoken. Politics is something that brings out the outspoken side of me. But I also enjoy being able to educate others with facts.
3. If you were asked to name three policy/issue viewpoints you hold that identify you as a conservative, what would those be?
Is fiscal sanity the proper term for a policy/viewpoint? If so, that’s one. Can we please quit spending money we don’t have? Why is that such an absurd concept to some people? The debt is too darn high!
The main issue I champion is Life. I vehemently believe that God gives us life at conception. I have actively spoken out against abortion for several years and supported our local Life Centers which educate women in crisis pregnancy situations. The legality of abortion is something we may never be fortunate enough to see overturned, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and do all we can. Right now we can focus on defunding Planned Parenthood of the 360+ million taxpayer dollars they receive every year. The other thing, and sometimes the only thing, we can do daily to combat abortion, is pray.
I believe in a Reagan-esque style of conservatism that espouses a strong military and a monetary policy that promotes free enterprise, lower taxes, and less government interference (aka less regulation). All of the above are tenets which encourage average American citizens to pursue the American Dream.
4. One of the elements of our friendship that puts me on the receiving end of perpetual ribbing is your affinity for professional sports, which, shall we say, dramatically dwarfs my own! (The term “sports nut” is right in your Twitter bio.) So for the benefit of the rest of the readers, what teams and personalities do you root for and why?
Coincidentally, I am answering this question on the Christmas Day of sports, Selection Sunday. (Oops, sorry Glen, I’ll explain.) Selection Sunday is the glorious day in March when the entire men’s college basketball season culminates into a seed (a rank for bracketing purposes) that is, fingers crossed, more prized than any material gift one could possibly receive on Christmas. That being said, my favorite team is Purdue.
My love of sports was probably never going to be optional. I was watching Sunday football before I could physically speak an objection, if I had wanted to. Interestingly, it was my mom who fueled the addiction in our family. Both of my parents were stellar athletes and bred three very competitive children. Some of my favorite memories growing up are of my mom coaching me through Little League and I can’t wait to do the same someday with my children.
I do enjoy almost every sport and my favorite activity is attending games. In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts are my teams. Having two favorites has often spurred a bit of controversy, but growing up, it was always the Cowboys. There wasn’t a team in my home city when I was born and even after the Colts Mayflower-ed into town (they snuck out of Baltimore via Mayflower trucks in the middle of the night, Glen) you still couldn’t watch them on TV until the late 90s, due to game tickets not being sold out. I love my city and am particularly fond of Peyton Manning but I’m not going to cut off the Cowboy ties.
My other favorite teams are the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Team USA! My favorite athletes are Manning, Michael Jordan and Brett Favre.
As far as playing sports, I still play softball and this year I’m adding flag football into the mix.
5. You have never made a secret of your Christian faith as long as I’ve known you. This question seems particularly timely since we’re now officially in Lent, the season leading up to Easter: What influence does this perspective have on your political involvement?
Long before I identified with one party, I identified with Christ. Therefore, my Biblical beliefs do drive me on some issues. I was raised with emphasis on knowing what I believe and understanding the Word of God. Everything else stemmed from that. My parents taught us we weren’t specifically Republican and at the end of the day, any political involvement or affiliation will always be secondary. I make an effort to pray that I don’t let anything else I’m involved in, politics or otherwise, adversely change the person I am and what I believe.
6. Tell us about your Favorites: Books, Movies, Foods, TV shows, Music Artists, (whatever else you want to randomly include).
I am not a person of many favorite “things” and I’m far from a music or movie buff. One of my favorite things, as is yours, is food. If I could get my own TV show where I just travel around and eat, that would be ideal. My perfect meal would include ice cream, prime rib, St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail, dark chocolate fondue and cookie dough. I’m currently addicted to trying all the new frozen yogurt and cupcake shops that are popping up. I have a major sweet tooth and if food is cute, I want to eat it. Recently, a friend and I were the first women to eat a 24oz burger from a local restaurant (hashtag: #womanvfood).
Favorite Bible verses: Psalm 41, Proverbs 4:23, Ecclesiastes 3:1 and Philippians 3:13-14.
Other favorites include: “Waiting for Superman” (a powerful documentary you must see), the color red and the number 13.
7. Aside from family members, who are three people, whether public figures or private citizens whose names we’ll likely never know who have contributed meaningfully to your life journey and how have they done so?
In naming people other than my parents who have contributed significantly to whom I am today, I have to first and foremost include my church. I grew up in a smaller church and if the phrase “It takes a village” is applicable anywhere, my church was the village. The people there are family. Not only my pastor and youth group leader, but everyone there played a large role in living out the admonition to “Train a child up in the way they should go…”
I had two high school classmates, Jennifer Atkinson and Melissa Ellis, who died our junior year. The last words I remember either of them speaking that day, I can still hear crystal clear. In our creative writing class that morning, Melissa had made mention of her mom being her best friend. This reminds me to not take for granted my loved ones or telling them how I feel about them. Mere minutes prior to their fateful accident, we were all sitting in the last class of the day discussing a poem, when Jennifer explained, as the Bible says, “Our treasures are not to be here on Earth, but instead store up your treasures in Heaven.” Powerful words I will never forget.
Finally, the person whom I credit with motivating me to get involved politically in a big way and inspiring me to make a difference was the woman who brought women to the forefront in a new way in American politics: Sarah Palin.
8. You went through a career change at the beginning of the year. Tell us about that.
In January I transitioned into government work for the first time by taking a job in the executive office of one of our statewide elected officials.
Going to work every day in the statehouse is nothing, if not exciting. When people find out that’s where I work, they know it’s exactly right for me.
The experience has been a great learning process. My administrative and legislative duties allow for me to see not only the aspects of how the executive branch functions, but also how the legislative branch of state government works. A typical day might include meetings with our office directors, sitting in on a Senate committee hearing for a bill we are sponsoring and, if I’m lucky, a quick run-in with our great governor.
The biggest surprise about my transition into government work has been the general lack of interest in politics. Most of the people I work with are just like anyone in the private sector; they are there doing their job. Many of them don’t care to discuss politics or get involved in politics outside of work. I received more than a few shoulder shrugs during that first week while I was realizing they didn’t care about the local political gossip of what so and so said, what happened at such and such event or who is running for what.
Working in the Indiana Capitol building this past month in general, has been rather interesting. Union protestors, sometimes thousands, sometimes hundreds, have inundated the halls and rotunda daily. When you’re trying to work, even 100 people with a microphone, megaphone, speakers and musical instruments is still pretty loud. But, hey, even if they are protesting dead legislation, it’s democracy in action. Now, if only they had all voted…
9. In 20 years, when you look back, name 3 things you’d like to be able to say you have accomplished, whether it’s visiting another country, working for a political candidate, starting a business…You name it. One thing has never changed, no matter the course my life has taken or how it plays out. Therefore, 20 years from now, accomplishment number one is having a family. That’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl and no matter what else, that is how I will measure my success in life. If I am leader of the free world, yet not a wife and mother, I will have failed. Now that I think about it, 20 years from now, I might have teenagers. Yikes! Also, along these lines, one of my secret goals in life is to someday celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary.
Second thing I would like to say I accomplished is working on the (2016? 2020?) campaign of President Pence. Simply put, outside of God and his family, Mike Pence’s number one priority is our country. And that is how I would describe myself. That is also what I would say is truly lacking, not just right now, but in many potential 2012 contenders. Let us make this country great again. Let us fully restore her honor. Let us reinstate the sense of duty, love and respect for all this nation has been and will be. Let us not continue to take her for granted or diminish her greatness.
Twenty years from now, I will hopefully have been to the two countries I have always desired to go to most, Haiti and India. Mission trips played a very fundamental role in my growing up years. Seeing poverty face to face is very impressionable on a young teenager. I learned not to take for granted or place high value on any of my material possessions, but more importantly, besides wishing I could just give good food to all those people, I saw how they were truly hurting. Poverty is so much more than hunger; it’s hurt, rejection, deep sadness, low self worth and often times, not enough love from others. That’s what broke my heart as a 13 year old in the projects of Atlanta, holding a small child who was begging to not be let go and it’s what breaks my heart now. I pray I never for a second lose sight of this. Compassion for others is something that can quickly be forgotten in our busy lives but God has been there with reminders.
10. Everyone knows April loves to campaign. After the 2010 elections: What was the #1 highlight and also the #1 frustration of assisting with what became a wave year for our party, especially in Indiana?
What’s not to love about competition, strategy and winning? Those are three of my favorite things! The number one highlight for me, besides the sweeping election night wins, was the people I met along the way. 2010 being my first year active in campaigning, I enjoyed every opportunity possible to meet people not only across the state, but around country. Being the social media enthusiast that I am, Twitter played a large part in this.
The biggest disappointment of the year was seeing political apathy firsthand. It baffles my mind how many people don’t care about the choices being made for them that are affecting their daily lives. I call this lack of being educated about candidates, “chosen ignorance”. It wasn’t until I was involved and trying to get people to vote, that I realized the magnitude of it. My biggest pet peeve is lack of passion about anything. Why people go through life dead, not caring about anything or only experiencing concern for themselves is beyond me. My second pet peeve is people not voting. How many soldiers have fought and died for our freedom? Yet some of us can’t find a few minutes every couple years to pull a lever.