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‘If You Want to Reach Millennials, You Have to Listen to Them’: Lessons from College Republicans

Bold sat down with the College Republicans Chair for Utah, Natalie Callahan, to ask her what she loves about her job and the future leaders of the conservative movement.
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1.  When did you first run for office? Tell us that story.

The first time I ran for office was in fourth grade. I ran for vice president of my elementary school. It quickly became a bonding opportunity for my dad and a complete nightmare for my mom. I worked extremely hard and came up with the most cutting edge ideas a 10-year-old could imagine. I paid my friends to be “walking billboards” during recess. Essentially wearing two posters over their body with my campaign slogan. We passed out stickers and candy and I was sure I had the election in the bag. Then I lost. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Aside from ruining my dreams of total grade school power, it also taught me that sometimes you don’t get what you think you deserve and that’s okay. Throughout my life, I have learned as much from my losses as I have from my wins. Every situation in some way had helped me grow personally and professionally.

2.  What do you like about being CR Chair? What is most challenging?

The thing I love the most about being UFCR chair is the opportunity to build relationships with College Republicans. Many of my most loved friends come from the CR organization. These CRs have inspired me to challenge the status quo and have given me tremendous faith in the next generation of conservatives.

The most challenging part of being UFCR chair is managing expectations. Sometimes these expectations come from candidates or political organizations and other times it is the expectations of our chapter chairs. With the first group, I have to scale down what they want verses what the CR organization can do as unpaid volunteers. With our chapter chairs, it’s keeping them motivated even though organizing College students is difficult and sometimes we don’t accomplish what we want.

In the end, we have an incredible organization with hard working, enthusiastic and intelligent College republicans.

3.  What is most fun in helping a gubernatorial candidate run for office?

I recently worked as finance director for Jonathan Johnson who is running for governor in Utah. With any political race the concept of time changes. You can count down the months to when you know if you made a difference and changed the course of history. In the same way that every day is new and everything happens very quickly. What could be a challenge one day, means absolutely nothing the next.

As millennials we bring new perspectives, technologies and tactics to campaigns. It is exciting to see these play out across the political landscape.

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4.  What is one personal goal and one professional goal for 2016?

My most significant personal goal is to spend quality time with my family. I have been known to get on a flight half way through a family vacation or during the holidays and head back to work. I’m trying to change that this year.

My main professional goal is to be better at looking at the big picture. In politics it is easy to get side tracked by a problem and you lose sight of what the bigger goals are. It’s something I have gotten better at, but still need to improve.

5.  How do you juggle your many tasks?

Lists. I have lists for everything from groceries to phone calls. I also use my calendar. I never try to remember that I have an appointment, I calendar it.

6.  What is your favorite Netflix series?

I just finished the first season of the West Wing. My best friend encouraged me to watch it and as usual she was right, I love it.

7.  Why do you like being a conservative?

Conservative values and principles make sense.  I never have to wonder why I believe the things I do. Conservatism is rooted in ideals that I am comfortable with and support.

Conservative principles give you the agency to decide for yourself verses bureaucrats making decisions for you from thousands of miles away.

Conservative principles mean you can look at the long term consequences and not be afraid of short term fallacies.

Conservative principles give you the opportunity to excel as high as you want for as long as you want without being told to average out.

8.  Who inspires you?

My parents. They are the most hard working and intelligent people I know. They have lived the “American Dream” by building a successful business and more importantly, a successful family.

9.  What challenges do conservatives have in reaching Millennials?

The biggest challenge conservatives face is their attitude toward Millennials. I hear all the time that the leaders in the conservative movement want to reach out to Millennials, but I will sit in front of them and listen to them talk as if Millennials don’t understand and their opinions don’t count. If you want to reach Millennials, you have to listen to them.

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10. What was your favorite moment at CPAC?

Every moment that I was able to spend with College Republicans. CRs from around the country attend CPAC and aside from the awesome speakers and panelists, CPAC is a time where relationships are built, knowledge is gained and fun times are had.

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