Teaching, Listening Key to Effective Leadership
By Krista Rinehart, CSG Director of the Toll Fellowship Program
Nevada Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop credits 30 years of teaching Nevada’s youth with shaping her as a leader by proving “you can make difference no matter how large or small on all that you touch.”
A desire to make a difference has been a driving force in Loop’s life since she was a school girl herself.
“The first position of leadership I remember holding was as the president of my service organization in high school,” said Loop. “The position was important to me because I wanted to do more for the community and involve my friends in a worthwhile project.”
As with so many of her fellow public servants, Loop, a 2011 Toll Fellow, credits her parents’ example with teaching her the importance of community service.
“Both of my parents were very active in the community,” said Loop, “and were wonderful role models for their family. I think adults who lead groups of students in community work show students it is better to give than receive. I was lucky to have parents that were leaders in their community.”
Given that Loop served her community as a teacher for 30 years before retiring and pursuing a second career as a sales representative for a textbook publisher, it is no surprise that education is one of her top priorities as a legislator. At a time when state budgets across the country are strapped, she recognizes that education is competing with a lot of other funding areas and programs for a finite amount of government dollars, but she sees education as the key to turning our country’s economy around.
“We need to recognize that education is the key to our economic recovery, getting Nevadans back to work and our future economic growth,” said Loop.
Despite her personal convictions, Loop said education reform and funding have a tough fight ahead.
“Financing education is becoming increasingly difficult,” she said. “The cuts to education have been devastating, although we worked very hard to keep them from being even worse.
“I do think we need to define those schools that are achieving goals and take a close look at their success. Reform will help schools put accountability in place and will be helpful in obtaining grants for which we could not otherwise be eligible.”
Loop said listening is central to her leadership style and is her biggest asset when trying to shape and lead legislative discussions, like those recently held about school funding and the state budget.
“Listening -- really listening -- to all sides of an issue is the most important thing to reaching a compromise,” said Loop. “Colleagues and those close to issues appreciate that you will listen and make decisions based on good policy. I believe we very much need more civility and respect in our public discourse.”
Given her desire for civility, some have asked why she continues to serve at a time when public discourse is at a partisan peak. For Loop, the answer is simple. The same desire to serve her community that was instilled at an early age and was at the core of Loop’s decision to run for her first term in 2008 continues to motivate her today.
“Public service is taking care of the community you live in and making it the best it can be,” said Loop. “Once you care about where you live and the quality of life, then public service is easy.”