Q&A: Dennis Teegardin ’12
Senior Legislative Adviser to Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins
Goucher Magazine: Briefly describe your career (what you do, where you do it, why you do it).
Dennis Teegardin: Currently, I work as the senior legislative adviser to County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins in Baltimore County. In this capacity, I advise the councilwoman on legislation, education, business, zoning, and political issues. Broken down into groups, my job looks like this: Legislative: I brief the councilwoman on bills pending before the council, make sure her amendments get drafted accurately, and advise her on other amendments coming from other council members. Education: I advise and keep her up-to-date on education issues around the county. This also includes working with constituents who need assistance with the school system. Business: I communicate and participate in meetings pertaining to new business in the district and business roundtable meetings, and I form relationships with community groups. I substitute for the councilwoman when she is unable to attend certain community meetings as well. Zoning: This September the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process began; it is a yearlong process where the County Council hears zoning requests from the community and votes to change the zoning of certain properties. This is the council’s most important job and greatly impacts future development in Baltimore County. Political: As her senior adviser, I have the councilwoman’s ear on all issues and offer advice that is politically sound and will best serve her and the district she represents.
What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?
My biggest professional accomplishment, I think, is sharpening my political savviness since I graduated college. I always worked on political campaigns with the occasional pro bono lobbying work on certain bills or budget proposals. However, once I began working directly for elected officials in their offices rather than the campaign trail, I found out that I have a real love for policy work and advising elected officials in an official capacity.
What has been your biggest personal accomplishment?
My biggest personal accomplishment so far has been being able to prioritize my time. Previously, I wanted to be part of every organization, be present at every event, and make sure I had my hand in everything that happened around me. That became exhausting and made me ineffective. I learned the hard way that if I found a few things interested me and pursued them (hobbies, volunteer work, extracurricular political activities, etc.), the more I was able to manage my time and truly enjoy those activities.
How did Goucher prepare you for your career?
Goucher gave me many of the necessary tools I needed to be successful professionally. My job requires a lot of attention to detail, supporting opinions and theories I have about situations and understanding how to challenge my own ideas. I have to be able to look at situations objectively and for the best interest of my boss, not for me. But most importantly, Goucher gave me the tools to do research. Without a deep understanding of issues, situations, and how the process works, you can end up making a poor decision with dire consequences.
What is your most vivid Goucher memory?
My most vivid Goucher memory is probably teaching high school students parliamentary procedure with the Goucher Model Senate. Although this was something I cared about, I wasn’t sure how I could present it to high school students in a way that made it fun and interesting, but that also stuck with them. To my astonishment, by the end of the hour I had with them, the entire room was laughing and correctly using the jargon I had taught them during a mock floor debate. I am proud to say I have been asked repeatedly to return and teach parliamentary procedure to the next group of Model Senate participants at Goucher.
How do you stay connected to the college?
I stay connected to Goucher through friends I made while I attended, some of whom live near me, but mostly though the Political Science Department. I have worked a few jobs in my career since graduating and have made sure I created positions for current Goucher students to get involved with what I’m doing, whether through an internship or even replacing me once I left. I keep in touch with several of my professors, but I also wish I were invited back to campus more to share my experiences with current students. One thing I am especially proud of however, has been my ability to give back financially to the college. Goucher afforded me with so many great opportunities, I feel the need to give back and stay as connected as possible.
Anything else you want to add?
Although I love what I’m doing now, I miss Goucher sometimes. I found being connected in a place where everyone is striving toward the same goal (a degree) yet through different paths made every day interesting and stimulating to me. Most of all, interacting with friends on a daily basis was my favorite part. It is very difficult to keep in touch with friends from college, mostly just because life gets in the way. But, I definitely needed my experience at Goucher to be where I am today.