Early Lessons Shaped One of Today’s Leaders
By Jo Brosius, CSG Director of Communications
The greatest quality of someone who leads is his willingness to serve. Missouri associate circuit Judge Doug Gaston, a 2010 member of the CSG Toll Fellows leadership program, credits his grandparents with teaching him that lesson and making him the leader he is today. His grandfather served in World War II while his grandmother taught children in a one-room schoolhouse.
“They sacrificed countless ways their entire lives to raise their children,” said Gaston. “It’s the foundation for everything I want to do and be as a public servant.”
Gaston has served in all three branches of state government. He served as a state representative, a county prosecutor, special assistant U.S. attorney and Missouri deputy state treasurer before winning his four- year term as associate circuit judge in August. Each office held one common thread.
“The best thing we can do in our work is to put self aside and try to help others, and to keep in mind the bigger reasons for what we do,” said Gaston.
He said in every role of government, true leaders must understand what is worth fighting for and fight for those causes regardless of their popularity or lack thereof. He said it is important to think about the impact of those decisions, not just in the short-term, but 20, 40 or 100 years from now.
“Political polls aren’t very instructive when you really wrestle with what decision is not only right for right now, but for future generations,” he said.
He believes government officials should never forget they are servants and members of an ongoing partnership responsible for making sure generations to come inherit the blessings of freedom this country offers.
“It is much bigger than partisanship and positions; it is truly about making sure the blessings of our country are protected for everyone,” he said.
Gaston was selected for the Henry Toll Fellowship Program, one of the nation’s premier leadership awards for state government officials, because of his record of public service and in recognition of his position as one of the nation’s emerging leaders.
“Doug brings an energy and dedication to his service of Missouri that is hard to match and that has allowed him to pack a lifetime’s worth of service into a relatively short career thus far. Giving back to his state and community has clearly been important to Doug from his school years on and can only mean great things for him and Missouri moving forward,” said Krista Rinehart, CSG Toll Fellows program director.
“It was an amazing opportunity to share with a group of extremely talented and big-hearted public servants from around the country,” Gaston said of the Toll Fellows experience. “I was enormously impressed with how much each person truly cares about the people they represent and about our nation.”
The Toll Fellows program is seeking nominations for the class of 2011. For more information on the Toll Fellows program, visit www.csg.org/programs/leadershipprograms/tollfellows.