Politics isn’t the cleanest of business. Arizona’s Secretary of State Michele Reagan knows this, and she also knows she cannot please all the people all the time.
“Once you make up your mind, that’s it. Stick with it. Not everyone is going to like your decision. And that’s okay,” said Reagan at the August Professional Women’s Alliance luncheon, where she discussed her journey into politics and her efforts to represent the business community.
Speaking to a room full of business leaders from around the Valley, Reagan was her fearless self. She got her pluck from her mother, she explained, while sharing her back story.
Reagan wasn’t supposed to end up in Arizona. She was in her senior year of college at Illinois State University when her family visited Scottsdale. Her mother, Donna, liked Scottsdale so much she didn’t want the family to leave. Reagan agreed to help her family move and start a business in Arizona, but only for a year.
Fast forward 24 years and Reagan is still in Arizona, except now she’s the secretary of state and she’s had an exceptional career in business and politics.
Politics weren’t what Reagan envisioned for herself, but as she became more involved in her family’s business, a FASTSIGNS in Phoenix, she realized the business community needed a voice in government. With this in mind, Reagan became involved with Young Republicans. Reagan went on to run for the state House in 2002, state Senate in 2010 and secretary of state in 2014.
“I used to tell my family, ‘if we ever sell this joint, I’m running for office.’” Reagan recalled. “I wanted to be a voice for the business community.”
Reagan is doing just that and she’s owning her role as secretary of state. She’s been pushing hard for technology improvements like online notaries and increased transparency. Reagan firmly believes transparency can be achieved with less government, increased technology and more business savvy.
“There are a lot of things we can do to increase transparency with technology without burdening business. It’s not hard; it just takes a business person,” Reagan said.
When asked about Arizona’s climate of opportunity for women, Reagan recalled Arizona’s early suffragette movement. Arizona was the fifth state to give women the right to vote in 1912, right after it became a state. “This place was destined to be a place where women are successful.”
Even though Reagan isn’t an Arizona native, she’s made it her home and she’s proud of the state and the work she’s done to improve the conditions for businesses.
“We were always meant to be a state where you could be anything you want to be,” Reagan said. “We’re on the verge of something big and exciting and each one of us gets to say we were here when it happened.”
-Written by Carolina Lopez digital marketing administrator for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.