Arlene Easley Talks To inCity Magazine

Please introduce yourself to our audience

My name is Arlene Easley and I am running for Alabama House of Representatives. I am a lifelong Alabamian, and I love my state, and the people who live here. I was born in Mobile, in 1963, where I was raised. I attended public schools and grew up in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. I am a graduate of Murphy High School and I received an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Computer & Information Systems Science from SD Bishop State Community College. I went on to receive a BS in Organizational Management from The University of Mobile and later an MBA from The University of Phoenix.

I am the mother of four daughters, and I have always felt strongly that it is important to give back to the community in which I live. I also believe that every person’s voice should be heard, and am eager to bring this commitment, as well as my years of business experience, to the State House.

I have over 20 years of budget and financial management experience, and over five years of project management experience.  I began my career in civil service, and then owned and operated a small business with my husband, who is a Firefighter.  I currently work for a large government contractor that builds ships for the US Navy and US Coast Guard. My experience includes working with Small Businesses, Research and Development, team building, collaborating across departments and diverse teams, identifying better ways to get things done.

I am an out-of-the box thinker, and have had success leading  cross functional teams, capturing funds, bringing teams together for common purposes, problem solving, negotiating, planning, resolving conflict, and identifying different ways to use technology. I have learned through my years of experience that communicating clearly--mainly through active and effective listening--is the cornerstone to building successful collaborative relationships. I know this will hold true for working in the government.

My diverse personal and professional background places me in the unique position to be able to listen to, understand, and bring together the concerns of everyone in my District and in our great state. I will legislate from the perspective of having been where most folks in our district have been, and from having faced the same concerns (first hand), and to be able to take those lessons learned with me to Montgomery and work to build bridges on matters of importance to all the families and communities that I represent.

What do you do for fun? Any Hobbies?

Painting! I can absolutely lose myself on a canvass. I also love poetry. I remember when one of my daughters went off to college her freshman year. I placed a note in her bag for her to find after her dad and I had left. It included a portion of the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken”- “…Two woods diverged in a woods, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that had made all the difference.” I think back on that poem a lot, especially now as I enter onto this new and exciting path.

Why did you become an R&D Professional?

I think it was faith! I had an extensive background in Financial and Budget Management, and was offered a position within our Advanced Capabilities Group. I quickly realized how remarkable the work was that was being done by this group of amazing guys. Because I have always been an out of the box thinker (or it may have been because it was discovered that I spent a lot of time writing poetry) I was given the opportunity to jump outside of my swim lane and manage more research projects on things like advanced technologies including robotics – some really amazing stuff.

What is the responsibility of the AL House District Rep?

The primary duty for the Legislature is annual budget appropriations. Also, the Legislature is responsible for redistricting the Congressional seats of the state based on results from each 10 year census, and (after each 4-year term) re-organize the Legislature by appointing committees, and electing officers. Additionally, the number of committees (set up to consider bills) is the responsibility of the Legislature

What are you doing to contribute to your community?

I am an active member of our local Democratic Executive Committee and serve as Outreach Coordinator working to build collaboration and cooperation between other local community groups and organizations. I have worked and marched for individual rights, including being part of the planning committee for the 2018 local Women’s March Anniversary in Mobile.

I led a clothing drive that provided interview-ready clothing to a local women’s shelter.

I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanities

I have served on school PTAs, as classroom rolling reader (reading in the classroom), as classroom Mom, and volunteered time in the classroom during Teacher’s Appreciation Week.

I have volunteered with different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs working with students during Engineering Week, and volunteering as a judge for local BEST Robotics competitions to increase student interest in STEM fields.

I have worked to encourage diversity and inclusion, have led an employee resource group that focused on empowering women, and providing leadership and professional development growth and opportunities that were dedicated to preparing women for advancement.

In your personal, spiritual and professional life, the mindset is extremely important...How do you continue to strengthen your mindset?

By staying positive and looking at possibilities. My husband tells me that I never hear the word “no”. Well, he’s not entirely right about that. It’s more that I’m constantly seeking to understand what is truly behind the “no”, because it’s only in understanding the truth behind any issue that you can begin to work to remedy situations. It was Lyndon B. Johnson who said that, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” So, I strengthen my mindset by trusting that there are a multitude of opportunities ahead, and that it’s important to collaborate and focus on the path ahead.

Any last remarks?

  • When I was contemplating and praying on direction as to whether to run for office, the question that kept coming forward was “Why?”
  • Well, for me, it’s simple — We need voices IN the room fighting for things like more educational resources for our public schools, better incentives for teachers, competitive wages,
  • Voices that realize the importance of building cultural awareness, the need for affordable healthcare, prison reform, reinstatement of a voting rights act that uplifts and protects the voices of all, prevention of crime through investments in education and mental health care programs, workforce development programs, growth opportunities for small businesses, and the assurance of transparency in our government.
  • I know that I can effect positive change. And, at a time when it is so important to create a sense of unity – when it is so important to hear from ALL of Alabama – to move forward: There’s this sense that we as a state (and as a nation) are moving backwards!
  • I’m building my campaign with a focus on unity, and my goal is to hear the concerns of every constituent that I am able to touch, bring their concerns into the room, and fight on their behalf. Because I know that we will only get there through cooperation, and that Unity is better than discord, empowerment is better than disenfranchisement, and bridges are better than walls.