Most of us have this idea in our heads of what requirements are needed to get involved in politics. A political science or law degree. A huge bankroll. Connections out the wazoo. But Elana Doyle realized that all she needed was the desire to improve her community. That’s why she decided to explore what a future in public service could look like for her.
In this interview, Elana tells us how imposter syndrome has played a role in her life, why she decided to join the She Should Run Virtual Cohort, and how she found the confidence to move forward.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a mother to the two most amazing children, Madison and Kyle. I am the wife of my best friend, also named Kyle, and a life-long cape coddah! (For those of you who don't know that's how we say Cape Cod in the local dialect LOL). I tend to care a lot about other people before myself and am determined to leave this world the best place possible for my children and their generation.
How about your educational and professional background?
I started my education journey at Cape Cod Community College, received my Associates Degree in Business Administration. I continued onto completing my Bachelor's Degree in Business Management at The University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Most recently I graduated from the 25th class of the Women's Campaign School at Yale University.
I worked in retail in high school and started working in banking during college. In 2017 I left the workplace to stay home with my children and become more involved with my community. Since then I have had the ability to take on numerous volunteer opportunities, join my town's Inclusion & Diversity Committee, my town's Republican Town Committee as well as the Cape Cod Young Professional's Public Policy Committee. I have attended trainings on housing advocacy, firearm safety, the MA state legislative process, joined the community emergency response team (CERT) and more!
When was the first time you thought about getting involved with politics?
Probably early on in high school—although I definitely brushed off any serious thought about getting involved until much later.
Has imposter syndrome ever played a role in your life?
All the time. I often thought about my life experiences and accomplishments as inferior to others. I don't know where that started but it was that way for as long back as I can remember—I often felt like I had to prove myself as a worthy participant or my insight as a valuable voice. Even at times when I absolutely knew what I was talking about, I would still question myself. I've definitely worked on that and I think I've gotten a lot more comfortable in my own shoes!
What makes you the most nervous about taking a first step into the political world?
Hands down what makes me nervous is how it could potentially affect my family. Politics is a nasty business at times and you never want your family to fall victim.
But what makes me excited is the opportunity to make REAL CHANGE & PROGRESS regarding the issues we face. My area has a serious housing crisis as well as other problems like a need for new wastewater infrastructure and a tragic opioid epidemic. There's often a lot of talk and even more often not a lot of results.
Did you have an “a-ha moment” when you realized you CAN be a leader in this space?
It has been a collective of a-ha moments that have brought me to the realization of this possibility.
There have been little moments over the last couple years that have made me realize it doesn't take a superhuman to run for office, it doesn't take any specific list of prerequisites and if you meet the requirements to run for office (usually age, residence, etc) then YOU can run for office.
There has been a lot of discussion around the lack of Republican women in government today. What challenges are you facing as a Republican woman exploring a run for office?
Finding support from organizations that don't only focus on federal candidates. I know that when the time comes early fundraising will most likely be the most difficult challenge. There are so many PACs and state organizations that will endorse and fund -specifically- liberal women or women with more liberal-leaning policy standings but I have yet to find one focused on state-level conservative women. If you're reading this and know of one (in MA) LET ME KNOW LOL!
Why do you think it's important for women to step up and get involved in different areas of politics?
It is extremely important, first of all, for women to know their experiences and skills are needed at every level of government. For me, getting involved is so important because I don't see many people like myself (especially here in Massachusetts!) in office—we currently have 0/40 Female State Senate Republicans and last time I checked less than 10 in the State House. If we as women, especially Republican women, don't step up, we can't complain.
I would never vote for someone just because they're a woman—however, I would LOVE more options.
So many of our local races (and sometimes national!) are uncontested and we just vote by the party...I can only imagine how different things might look if there were more choices at the polls. Don't be intimidated by a primary!
What drove you to participate in the She Should Run’s Incubator and Virtual Cohort program?
The Incubator was the first non-partisan training I came across back in 2016 when I first thought about seriously getting involved with politics. I was so excited to participate and even more excited that I could participate as a republican! I had always been interested in politics and government, but before 2016 I didn't have the confidence in myself to ever pursue my passion nor did I have any grasp on how or where to start. The Incubator seemed like a natural first step. And then in 2018 joined the Virtual Cohort training with a group of women from across the country!
Do you have a different perspective about running for office after completing the Virtual Cohort program?
Absolutely! I look at 2016 and think of myself stuck behind a brick wall. There was me, the wall and on the other side the thought of running for office. The Virtual Cohort was the wrecking ball to blow that first gaping hole through that brick wall.
What have you learned about yourself after completing the Virtual Cohort program?
I have learned that I have always had the ability and passion to run for office. But I didn't have the confidence.
It has taken me a long time to break down that wall but with the right training, guidance and encouragement... a lack of self-confidence is no longer a problem!
What unique perspective do you think you can bring to our government?
I like to think I have a perspective that many people my age share. I am a millennial who has struggled with almost every common issue my generation is facing including housing, student loan debt, family members suffering from addiction, raising children and depending on small business income. These situations are very common, not just within my age group, but extending to older generations as well. However, in my adult life there has been no substantial effort to correct the rooted problems which cause these issues.
Take student loan debt for example. All my life I was basically told I would be a bum if I didn't go to college (but look at my husband with his high school diploma paying all the bills!). The federal government gives vulnerable teenagers basically a blank check to go to the school they please. You'll let a 20-year-old go into 50k in debt with absolutely no guarantee they'll be able to pay the loan back but try getting a business loan for 10k as a 20-year-old. GOOD LUCK! College isn't for everyone and we have created a false narrative that you need to go to college to get a good job. We have made colleges so much money and burdened an entire generation with astronomical debt.
In order to change some of the nasty stereotypes often associated with the GOP, we as Republicans need to change that perspective from the inside out. If we don't prove them wrong, nothing will ever change.
Do you think it's valuable that She Should Run is a nonpartisan organization? If so, why?
YES! YES! YES! So many organizations have a narrow scope regarding who they want to help get into office.
When you come across an organization that puts differences aside and welcomes women of all beliefs and backgrounds, it is literally a breath of fresh air. You also connect people who may have never thought they'd have anything in common and they do. In my opinion, there is no better way to teach real bi-partisanship.
Now that you're well on your way, what advice would you give to someone who's thinking about running for office?
Just do it, the worst that can happen is you lose and now you have some name recognition!
Do you have a favorite quote?
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." President Abraham Lincoln