Mary Vought

2022 Lincoln Fellow

What is your current position?

Founder of Vought Strategies – a public relations firm

Executive Director of Senate Conservatives Fund

Co-Founder of Women for America PAC

Additional item of note: I was appointed by President Donald J. Trump in 2020 to serve on the National Council of Disability and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin appointed me in July of 2022 to serve on the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. I have a young daughter with a disability so I’ve become increasingly involved in advocating for those that can’t advocate for themselves.

My written work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Post, The Washington Post and Newsweek. I’m also a contributor for the Washington Examiner and the Federalist.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

My political communications degree taught me that messaging is one of the most important elements in making successful policy changes. I enjoy that I’m able to use those communications skills to help empower the conservative movement.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

Several friends I look up to; Rachel Bovard, Mollie Hemingway and Chris Jacobs were previous fellows and spoke very highly of the impact it has had on their careers.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

Getting to know the other fellows was my fondest memory. My fellow class was full of some of the most brilliant, entertaining, and hilarious individuals. Believe it or not, we all still talk daily in a group chat we created during the fellowship.

There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals. What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowships unique? Claremont focuses on first principles, by engaging with our nation’s founding documents, and interpretations of those documents. No conservative organization does a better job framing current policy and political issues in the context of philosophical debates, both at the nation’s Founding and since.

What qualities do you believe are necessary for effective leadership? Being willing to admit a mistake and learn from it, is a leadership trait we don’t often see in Washington, DC. It would serve our country well if politicians had that mindset.

What do you believe is one of the greatest challenges facing the United States? On top of our staggering national debt, we also have a significant segment of our population that believes that America is a racist and evil country—and is working every day to convince others of that notion.

What do you believe has led to our established culture redefining itself in the 21st Century? It all starts with education. The liberal slant of our educational system, particularly colleges and universities, over the past several decades has transformed itself into an intolerant environment that seeks to indoctrinate rather than educate. The educational system has poisoned much of the current generation, which has become unabashed in its desire to impose its agenda anywhere and everywhere.

Many opinion writers believe we are slowly becoming a nation of political will as opposed to a principled nation of law and order.  What are your thoughts on this issue? On this front, we at least have some rays of hope, as the Supreme Court in recent years has begun to reign in the administrative state, while also overturning Roe v. Wade. The way that the Left now wants to pack the Court, and the rise in threats against the justices, shows that progressives fear a return to constitutional first principles. The Left’s attempts to delegitimize and intimidate the Court cannot succeed.

How would you respond to the push towards ESG (Equity, Societal, Governance) scores? The next conservative Administration should push to break up the ESG cartel. The current movement amounts to little more than collusion by elites that seeks to impose a climate agenda (via “stakeholder capitalism”) as a fait accompli, without even bothering to consult or utilize our democratic institutions.

How would you respond to the latest poll reflecting the low percentage of American students knowing so little about our nation’s history? It explains much of the radicalization of America’s youth. The fundamental ignorance of many American students—a symptom of our dysfunctional system of public education—makes it easier for leftists to persuade the public that our country is inherently racist and evil. Our nation had its ugly moments but examining actual facts—as opposed to creating an agenda in search of revisionist history—disproves much of the Left’s assertions.

What concerns you the most in the area of Americans with special needs? I see how the Left’s big-government solutions often end up hurting vulnerable Americans with special needs. By the same token, some conservatives often feel that disability advocacy groups have become captured by the Left, and therefore don’t engage with the special needs community. We need to speak to all Americans, and explain how our solutions can work better. Hopefully, the success we’ve had in expanding school choice—which is a godsend for many families of special needs children—will encourage conservatives to engage more on these types of issues.

What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire? I had the privilege of growing up in Alaska. Alaskans aren’t quitters. I don’t believe I ever got a snow day as a child. If there is a snowstorm and your driveway is blocked in, you wake up early to shovel it because you’re still expected to attend school. That roll-up-your-sleeves mindset has served me well in my life. 

What is your favorite hobby or way to relax? I enjoy playing tennis. It’s a great way to build stamina, increase one’s concentration, and let out frustration after a tough day at work.

And just because …

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself being able to celebrate with my daughters as they graduate from high school/enter college and grow into responsible young women. Anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.