Jillian is a senior at West Virginia University studying Industrial and Management Systems Engineering. She’s passionate about debunking common beliefs about conservatism and about the Republican party and loves discussing energy policy with anyone who will listen. She would like to eventually work in transit management and/or transportation policy. You can frequently catch her holed up on the engineering campus talking policy, local politics, or freaking out about mass transit.

When asked about Jillian, Amanda, the founder of Future Female Leaders, shares “Jillian exemplifies exactly what it means to be a conservative women – she’s kind, bright, strong, and encouraging. She always makes every member of Future Female Leaders feel welcome and is constantly cheering them on in their endeavors. The future of the conservative movement is strong with people like Jillian at the helm.”

Name: Jillian Kinder

Age: 22

Hometown: Charleston, West Virginia (take me home, country roads!)

What issue are you most passionate about?

I go between two different issues here – energy and infrastructure policy. Neither are particularly sexy topics, but I think they’re truly the backbone of our nation and they don’t get enough attention. Without energy to power our homes and lives and roads and bridges to get where we need to go, our lives would be insanely different. I worked on energy policy over the summer and fell in love with all aspects of it. I want to go into the transportation field after I graduate and have always been passionate about the field. 

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given?

I don’t think I’ve necessarily gotten a single piece of bad advice, but I definitely think I’ve been conditioned to not raise my voice or make a scene. This often leads me to allow others to walk all over me or accept mediocrity – over the last six months, I’ve learned how to respectfully push back and not let others get to me. I can maintain my reputation as a mediator and still stand my ground on issues. 

What do you think the biggest myth/stereotype that surrounds young conservative women in today’s political environment?   

I think the biggest stereotype is that we’re all “traitors to our gender” as if you have to be a pro-choice Democrat as a woman. I believe that women should be free to grow and prosper without unwelcome government (or anyone’s) intervention. This insult used to be one of the ones that hurt the most, but now I let it roll off of my back. You know what we call that? Growth. 

What do you want the world to know about conservative and Republican women?

We’re in more places than you think. Conservative women don’t let their ideology become their whole personality – they are much more than their activism. I think we often get sucked up into our activism and forget that Twitter is not the world. The vast majority of people aren’t on social media ranting and/or raving about the president. They’re your normal PTA moms who didn’t resonate with Hillary Clinton. They’re college students who know that free college hurts more than it helps. They’re normal people who don’t always shout their political activism. There is a life outside of politics. Rebecca and Georgia both had great columns about not letting politics become your personality and I make a conscious effort to manage how often I talk about politics.  

What is something you wish you could tell yourself just starting out on your political journey?

Don’t put your trust in people so easily. I’m not saying to keep your head on a swivel and not trust anyone, but I put my trust into people that did not have my best interests at heart. I now have a great group of people surrounding me through the organizations I’ve been involved with (shout out to FFL and College Republicans), but it took me a while to get there. There are too many people out there who will only befriend you until you’ve no longer become useful to them. 

What issue, in your opinion, doesn’t get enough attention? 

The rape kit backlog. Our culture already doesn’t do enough to support sexual assault survivors and one big step would be to enact serious reform in every state. Groups like RAINN and End the Backlog are doing great work to shed light on these issues, especially with the Debbie Smith Act and other grants. 

What is something that brings you confidence, no matter what? 

My girlfriends and dressing up. My GOP Queens and my FFL ladies are always there for me for advice, support, or gassing me up in the comments. My biggest piece of advice to anyone in politics is to find your people. Find a group of people (or even just one person) who truly want you to shine and reach for the stars. Having that core support group will open more doors than you ever thought possible and will give you connections in different states. I wouldn’t trade their friendship for anything.

Dressing up and planning my outfits gives me more confidence than I ever thought – if I am clean and polished and prepared rather than pulling clothes out of my closet, I feel more put together and ready to take on whatever is in front of me. I’m a tall girl so I don’t wear heels often, but a pair of booties with a nice click when I walk makes all the difference. I usually reserve dressing up for job interviews or important meetings in college, but putting some thought into my outfit for an event or an office work day helps me center myself and focus.