Some people are grandstanders in the way they lead, promoting themselves and their personal legacy. Others — and the more effective ones — seek to serve in a way that solves problems and makes life better for others. Fortunately, we have been graced by the second kind of leadership for more than three decades in the public service of Connie Lawson.
It’s been my personal privilege to know Connie for most of those years and to benefit from her counsel on a host of issues and to be enriched by her friendship. It’s safe to say that like so many others, I’ll be looking for ways to remain in her circle even after her retirement.
I remember Connie’s presence in the State Capitol when she served as Hendricks County Clerk and as president of the Indiana Clerks Association. She frequently testified on election issues, and when she spoke, we listened. It was a delight to welcome her to the Indiana State Senate in January 1997, as she joined a group of Republican women senators who were action-oriented, and she fit right in. As the first woman appointed as Senate Majority Leader, she led with purpose and collegiality. It was surprising to no one that she was selected by Governor Mitch Daniels as Secretary of State or that she handily won election in two subsequent elections.
Distinguished by her strong work ethic and her knowledge of election issues, she proved to be just the Secretary of State we needed to navigate thorny issues. Even those who opposed her found her to be fair and above reproach in character and commitment.
Connie has been a mentor to many, especially women who were carving out public service careers. She gave generously of her time as an Honorary Governor of The Lugar Series and to the class members — no doubt inspiring many to step up and serve. It’s not just what she said but more about how she did her job and how she treated people. Those who follow her example share her willingness to do whatever it takes to do the job well in service to Hoosiers.
While Connie didn’t promote her personal legacy, the quality of her service makes her a stand-out as a leader worthy of our respect and gratitude. While she deserves this retirement and more time with her family, I fully expect that she will find new ways to contribute to the Indiana story. It certainly is richer because of Connie Lawson.