Macey Matthews blazes a path in political-communication strategy
by Michelle Barber Lyhnakis (MPC ’06)
Growing up in Helper, Utah, Macey Matthews (’08) dreamed of being the next Katie Couric. “I wanted to get to a big city and be part of the action,” Macey says.
While Macey is not featured on the news, she is the person creating it. As the communication director for Arizona congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema, Macey oversees all communications coming from the congresswoman’s office.
“It can be a little crazy,” she says. “Every day is different as I manage all social media, speeches, media interviews, and press releases for Kyrsten.”
Pursuing a career in politics wasn’t completely out of left field. In fact, Macey grew up campaigning with her dad, Tom Matthews, a former Utah state legislator. After high school graduation she thought about moving to Washington, DC, but once she toured Westminster, she knew it was the place for her.
“I realized I wanted to learn in a place with a close community,” she explains. “I felt more comfortable in the West, and I wasn’t ready for a huge school. I liked the hands-on attention from faculty.”
Macey majored in communication and spent most of her time working in the Admissions Office and writing for the college newspaper, The Forum. “At Westminster I was able to explore many options in the communication field and got a great overview of everything I needed to be successful,” she says. “I gained experience in PR, journalism, and graphic design. I felt very prepared for my first job.”
Her first job was as a field organizer for a congressional campaign in Wisconsin. Macey says leaving Utah was the scariest and best thing she’s ever done. “Being a field organizer forces you to learn quickly and really hit the ground running,” says Macey. The candidate she was working for won the election. “It’s an unbelievable feeling knowing that your hard work truly paid off.”
Macey returned to Utah and took a temporary position during the Utah legislative session with the intent to network her way into a position that could lead her to Washington. She interned with Congressman Jim Matheson her senior year at Westminster and stayed in close contact with his staff. Once his office had an opening in Washington, she jumped at the opportunity. Macey worked for Matheson for five years, first as a staff assistant answering phones, arranging tours, and managing interns. Then she was promoted to a scheduler, where she managed Matheson’s day-to-day calendar in DC and Utah. In 2012, she moved back to Utah to work as the social-media director on Matheson’s campaign.
“We were really pioneers in using social media for political campaigns,” she says. “At the time, many candidates and elected officials were hesitant to engage with voters on social media. It was fun and challenging to figure out what worked and didn’t work and blaze a path in this medium.”
After winning the election, Matheson invited Macey to join his communication team, where she spearheaded all digital media including telephone town halls, email newsletters, and social media.
In 2014, Matheson announced he would not run for reelection. Macey went on to work on Senate campaigns in Montana and Alaska before moving back to Washington where Kyrsten Simena was looking for a communication director.
According to Macey, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is working for a moderate member of Congress who represents her district well and doesn’t stick to party lines.
“It means making tough choices sometimes, but working in the middle and reaching across the aisle is doing what your constituents want,” Macey says.
Macey’s best advice to anyone wanting to launch a career in politics is to get involved with a local political campaign. “Campaigns always need help, and it’s a great way to test it out.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.