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Winners’ Circle

Alumnae/i who ran for office in November included three elected to state legislatures.

The past few years have seen an explosion of new candidates for elected office, including record numbers of women and people of color. Three Simmons alumnae/i elected or re-elected to their state legislatures last November offer insights on how they plan to lead.

State Rep. Liana Cassar ’11MBA, pictured, of Rhode Island (D, District 66) credits Simmons’ focus on principled leadership with fortifying her commitment to advocating for justice. As an activist, she testified in the state legislature on issues of gun legislation and reproductive health. Since taking office in 2018, she has pushed for rules reform and fought to make the legislature more transparent and effective. She also values the ongoing support of her Simmons classmates who provided encouragement throughout her campaign.

Simmons’ influence on re-elected State Rep. Jessica Fay ’91 of Maine (D, District 66) started long before she stepped on campus; her mother, Linda Krause ’66, used her Simmons experience over a lifetime of advocacy and service, including as mayor of Groton, Conn. Her mother, professors and classmates all contributed to helping her find her voice. “I didn’t know I shouldn’t speak up,” Fay says. She now speaks up often for environmental protection, a key issue for her constituents, but she also believes strongly in the importance of listening and building consensus.

First-time lawmaker State Sen. Eric Tarr ’05DPT of West Virginia (R, District 4) says experience as both a business owner and physical therapist informs his thinking about how the state legislature affects everyday citizens, an insight he shares with other legislators. “To be a good leader, you’ve got to be able to sell a vision well,” Tarr says. The leadership focus of Simmons’ physical therapy doctorate attracted him to the program, as did the flexibility offered through online classes, which enabled him to continue working while he completed his studies.