Why She Leads: Megan Stoner

Megan Stoner ran for Madison County Council at age 20 but lost only by a few hundred votes in the Republican primary. She has been involved in politics since age eleven and has drafted and lobbied her own legislation to change Indiana’s constitution and lower the age to run for State Senate office from 25 to 21 and State Representative from 21 to 18.

What is your most memorable career and personal accomplishment?

It would be running for office in these last few months. I ran as a twenty year old and it was challenging to figure out running for office for the first time. I was running against an older man in my primary who ended up beating me but I only lost by a few hundred votes. It was challenging to be a female with a bunch of guys, just running without a female influence that I should have had.

We’d love to hear more about your leadership path. How did you get to where you are today?

When I was eleven, I got started with the mayor’s race in my small town in Indiana and ever since then I have loved politics, especially on the conservative side. When I was twelve or thirteen, I met then-Governor Mike Pence and that was a really inspiring moment. When I was growing up, I helped on multiple campaigns and eventually was looped in with my former state representative who has been one of the greatest influences in my political life.

I ended up writing legislation when I was seventeen and then when I turned eighteen, my senior year of high school, I was on national television thanks to my legislative efforts in Indiana, and this was during the presidential year. Indiana was the center of the Trump presidential campaign and Indiana made history that year in the primaries so it was exciting to be a first-time voter that year along with my legislation being on the forefront for me. I graduated that year, moved to college, and a year later, I decided to run for office.

What is your personal mission related to running for office? Why?

I decided to take the jump to run for office because I had watched so many small businesses in my town close and I was tired of it. I didn’t want to complain; I wanted to do something. Yes, I’m young and a woman, but I can still make a difference.

How has the Incubator helped you clarify your leadership vision?

The Incubator has helped me because I have met a lot of women and two of my closest mentors now are from the She Should Run community. I’m so grateful because even though I’m a Republican...parties don’t matter in the Incubator. Being able to find other conservative women to network with has been great and I’ve been able to make lifelong friendships through She Should Run.

What are steps you are taking towards a future run or staying involved in the political process?

Something that I am on working now is completing my college education and then going to law school. Unfortunately, I feel like to run for office, you have to have experience and I want to get that experience. And honestly, since my election, I’m working on taking care of my mental health.

Tell us about your favorite She Should Run “aha” moment or success story. Why are you an Incubator member?

I completed the Incubator training a while ago and I found a young woman from North Carolina named Nicole Tatum through the Incubator. Nicole and I have become very close and that’s been my favorite She Should Run moment because  I’ve loved finding another woman who understands the struggles of running for office.

What’s your advice for finding time for your personal life (family, personal growth)? Dare we say it, how do you make time for fun in your life?

I think you have to schedule everything the way you do an interview or a meeting so you have to schedule time for your mental health.  I struggled with scheduling self-care time during my run and I wish I had done more of it because now I feel like I’m making up for lost time. Schedule time for your mental health like it’s a doctors appointment because it’s really that important.

As a young woman who has run for elected office, do you have any advice for any other young woman out there who will read your story? 

I would say, stay humble. Stay humble because people notice and always be hungry to learn. Never act like you’re too good to do anything. A lot of things that I did on the campaign trail seemed something a staffer would do like writing thank you notes but writing those thank you notes made me a better person because I realized I had a lot of people who believed in me.