Mary Glassman, the former longtime first selectman of Simsbury, a two-time Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor and the 2018 Democratic candidate for Congress from the 5th District in Connecticut, visited Westminster Dec. 3 to talk about her career. Justin Schuster ’19, who worked on her Congressional campaign last summer, introduced her to the audience of students and faculty members in Werner Centennial Center.
“I hope you take advantage of the bigger community of Simsbury,” she encouraged the audience and suggested visiting the Pinchot Sycamore Tree, walking in McLean Game Refuge and bike riding using the Simsbury Free Bike program.
She spoke about becoming an unlikely candidate for first selectman, serving 16 years in that position and competing on the campaign trail for elected office. “I was blessed with the opportunity to set a vision for the community and what I learned was that it was my responsibility to be courageous,” she said.
She shared what she thinks it takes to be a good leader. “Life is not a straight path,” she pointed out. “Leadership skills are important, no matter what you do.” She cited being curious, creative, courageous, empathetic, resilient and never afraid to fail as key qualities in leadership. “If you take anything away from today’s conversation, I would say push yourself and don’t be afraid to say ‘I tried.’ I think it is really important.”
Glassman grew up in New Britain, Conn., and worked her way through the University of Connecticut, where she majored in journalism and later earned a J.D. “I have dedicated my career to trying to make a difference in education,” she said. Her early career involved advocating for education in Simsbury as a volunteer.
Glassman has served as a journalist, special counsel to Connecticut’s Speaker of the House, counsel to the Connecticut Senate president, chief of staff to the Connecticut Lt. Governor and former president of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. She currently is the manager of the Office for Regional Efficiencies of the Capitol Region Education Council. “What I have been advocating is how to deliver services differently,” she said. She pointed out that the 169 towns in Connecticut approach education in 169 ways, and her office helps school and town officials find innovative ways to increase efficiencies in services while providing high quality services.
Regarding politics, she talked about how social media now drives campaigns and the difficulty candidates face when going from a candidate to an elected official who has to govern.
“I hope you volunteer and learn to make a difference in your community,” she emphasized. “It is important to give back in your life.”