Hadley Heath Manning is the director of policy at Independent Women’s Forum. She graduated from the Koch Associate Program in 2013.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Shelby, North Carolina. Shelby is a wonderful town with a strong sense of community. I learned at an early age that civic organizations, churches, and charities can play a strong role in communities. Politically, it’s pretty conservative. It’s in the westernmost Piedmont county in North Carolina, close to the Appalachian mountain region. A beautiful place.
What got you interested in your career field?
My grandfather wrote several books on political philosophy. My family openly discussed politics, and I showed an interest from an early age. My mother mentioned think tanks to me once in high school, and I didn’t know what she was talking about! In college, I studied journalism and economics, still not sure what I was going to do, exactly. My university offered a public policy major, but I didn’t think that’s where I was headed. Then President Obama got elected when I was in college, and I thought something at the time like, “I have to go to Washington and do something.”
Has a book ever changed your life?
I read What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us by Danielle Crittenden. It was really the “About the Author” section that did it though. Danielle Crittenden, now Frum, was a fellow at this place called “Independent Women’s Forum,” a place I’ve now worked for about seven years. So that book is how I became interested in IWF. My advice: Always read the “About the Author”!
Has a particular place challenged your thinking?
I had some culture shock when I went to college, even though it was only about three hours from where I grew up. The college environment—being away from my family and home—prompted me to seriously question my worldview. I’m sure this is a common experience. It was hard. But in the end, I can see that this benefited me, helping me grapple with serious questions and coming to understand not just my own worldview but the worldviews of others. I had many opportunities to travel during college, to Southeast Asia, Europe, and South America. All of these trips impacted me because my travel made me appreciate more deeply America’s relatively free economy, relatively healthy culture, and all the prosperity we enjoy as a result.
Why did you participate in a Charles Koch Institute educational program?
A friend recommended the Koch Associate Program to me. I was already working for Independent Women’s Forum, but KAP helped me improve skills that I used at my job, like op-ed writing, project management, and media communication skills.
What was most memorable about the Institute’s educational programs?
The other people, the network. I’ve kept in touch with several people from my KAP class, and it’s nice to watch them find their callings, start families, or otherwise enjoy life.
What’s something your friends find surprising about you?
Besides my politics? Many people would be surprised to know that I seriously considered a different career path: musical theater. I was really into drama club in high school and even auditioned for a couple of music conservatory programs. In the end it all makes sense though. I’m fond of saying there’s nothing more political than theater and nothing more theatrical than politics!
What’s one piece of advice you’ve taken to heart?
My grandmother has often said, “This too shall pass.” It’s good advice for both good times and bad and reminds me not to get hung up on things that seem awful in the moment but will not be a big deal the next week. It’s the long-run perspective. You’ll get through bad times because they will pass. And cherish the good times because they too will pass. Now that I’m a parent, this is doubly true.
What do you want to be known for?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.