Editor’s Note: This article was written in the Spring of 2018. She is currently no longer running for VA-10, but she is doing great work with the midterm election to turn out votes. We’re proud to call Lindsey a friend, and wanted to share her story.
Baylor Alum Lindsey Davis Stover on Her Career in Public Service, Her Race for Virginia’s 10th Congressional Seat, And Her Hope for a New Future
Lindsey Davis Stover is no stranger to challenge. At the age of 14, she went to work to help save funds to go to college. With the love and support of her family and the help of government aid, she would later attend Baylor University while also working three jobs.
Growing up as the daughter of a school teacher and the granddaughter of a World War II Veteran would instill within Lindsey the drive to make a difference and to serve her community. It was little surprise, then, that after graduation from Baylor, Lindsey went on to serve in the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program where she worked to build innovative learning systems designed to empower youth. She would later serve as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Chet Edwards and then as a Senior Advisor, Senior Executive Service (SES) in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) where she worked to enhance the quality of life for Veterans across America.
Lindsey and I became friends a few years ago and, at the time, she had just left her position at VA and was working on building her small business in Northern Virginia. But, when a group of Veterans asked her to consider running to represent them in Congress, her career went in an unexpected direction. The Veterans’ call for her to serve was quickly followed by others in her community. And, then, her daughters weighed in, leading her to announce her run for Congress. If she is successful, she will be the first female Baylor alum to serve in Congress.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Lindsey and ask her about her time at Baylor, her work as an advocate for Veterans, and her run for the U.S. Congress.
Q: You’ve often said you were grateful for the education you received at Baylor University. How did you come to attend Baylor University?
My grandfather grew up on a farm in Bellmead just up the road from Baylor University. He was the first in his family to graduate high school and later joined the Army and was stationed at Camp Hood which is now known as Ft. Hood. Growing up I can remember my grandfather always saying to me that if I could go to Baylor, I could really make something of myself. He always wanted us to have opportunities that he didn’t have growing up. I can still remember how proud he was when I got my acceptance letter. He proudly wore his Baylor shirt every time I came home from school to visit. My grandfather understood the importance of education and he knew Baylor would provide me an opportunity to learn and grow-he was right!
Q: What are some of your most memorable experiences at Baylor?
I have many fond memories of Baylor from the life-long friends I made to the incredible professors I had, many of whom I still keep in touch with today. One of the most memorable experiences I had was a study trek I did in Turkey. We had the opportunity to learn and experience a new culture and explore the history of the country from Istanbul to Ankara and from Troy to Cappadocia. The experience helped broaden my world views and sparked an interest in foreign policy and the important role America plays abroad.
Q: After graduation, you went to the Kennedy School at Harvard University and then to have an impressive career in public service, from serving as a Chief of Staff to Congressman Chet Edwards to being a Senior Executive in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. What led you to choose a career in public service?
I have always been inspired by my grandfather’s military service during WWII. After graduating from Baylor, I served in the AmeriCorp VISTA, a national service program, where I worked on civic initiatives to help empower youth in their communities. I have seen and experienced first-hand how government and policy can help people and I have always felt a deep responsibility and commitment to public service. I relied heavily on government aid while also working many jobs to attend Baylor. Without the help of government aid, I would have never had the opportunity to get a great education at Baylor and go on to receive a graduate degree from Harvard. I have also been fortunate to have great mentors like Congressman Chet Edwards who has been an incredible champion for Baylor and our service members and Veterans. Chet is an example of how one person can truly make a difference in the lives of so many.
One of the greatest honors in my career is serving those who have served. I am most proud of the work our team did to significantly reduce Veterans’ homelessness and increase access to care for women Veterans – the fastest growing Veteran population utilizing VA today. I am proud Virginia is my home, the first state to functionally end Veterans homelessness. It took dedicated leadership from the local, state and federal government along with many committed community partners to ensure homeless Veterans have housing and opportunities for meaningful employment.
Q: On April 18, 2017, you announced a run to represent Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. Congress. What led you to ultimately decide to make the run?
I actually never thought I would run for office. I have always enjoyed doing the work behind the scenes. While it was a group of Veterans that first talked to me about running, it was ultimately my two daughters who helped me make the decision. The fears and concerns they were having were concerns no 6 and 7-year-old should ever have in our country. They made me realize that not only did I know how to do something, but that I had to do something. Their future, and the future for all our children, is worth fighting for! A future that isn’t driven by fear, but one that is full of prosperity and opportunity. It became clear that it was time to get off the sidelines and work to be the change I wanted to see in our community and in our country. It is time for bold new leadership that puts people over politics.
Q: What surprised you most about running for office?
I never imagined how inspiring it would be. I am inspired every single day by the people I meet all over the district who are doing things they have never done before – marching, attending political events, speaking up, and volunteering extra hours in their communities, their schools and places of worship. The election in November 2016, has activated people all over the country to stand up and fight for the future we want for our children and grandchildren. It called on us all to serve in some way and be an instrument of change in our communities and in our country.
Q: If you win, you will be the first female Baylor Alumnus to hold a position in the U.S. Congress. What does that mean to you?
Certainly, it would be an honor to be the first elected Congresswoman who graduated from Baylor, but given all that Baylor women have contributed to our country, it’s hard to believe I’d be the first. There are so many Baylor women, past and present, who have inspired and supported me, many of whom would have made outstanding members of Congress. I think about them often, and the women who came before us who paved the way. It would mean a lot to all of us to have a woman from Baylor elected to Congress.
One my favorite Baylor women, Governor Ann Richards once said, “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”
One thing that has become abundantly clear in recent years – we need more women in Congress, as well as on the local and state level, fighting for our families, our communities and our country.