October 24, 2018
Meet a Matriot: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty
Since 2013 Congresswoman Beatty has proudly represented Ohio’s Third Congressional District. Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University and a member in the Ohio House of Representatives for five terms. While serving in the Ohio House, she rose to become the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio’s history. She is a Founding Member of The Matriots PAC and proud grandmother of two toddlers.
You were an early supporter of The Matriots PAC, providing encouragement, advice, and funding. What about The Matriots PAC’s work appeals to you?
I was encouraged and delighted to see a diverse group of women uniting to support and advocate for like-minded women. Like The Matriots, I want to see more women in government at all levels. Too often women are on the sidelines because they don’t know how to get involved. The Matriots reached out to me and genuinely wanted to be educated about integrating politics, issues, and people—they listened, learned, and they put words into action. Further, I believe they realized in order to accomplish great things they had to harness the talents, skills, and unique perspectives of the founding women, as well as raise dollars to support candidates. They were bold and committed to helping women in a bipartisan fashion.
You entered political life in 1999, when you were appointed to take the seat previously held by your husband, Otto Beatty Jr. What led you to step out of private life and pursue a political career?
I believed it was an opportunity for me to build on the legacy Otto had created, but to do more and to create a platform for women. I realized there were legislative changes that needed to take place to make life better for all Ohioans. I was engaged in the community, and had a successful business, but I believed I could marry my experiences to politics and policy and make a difference—especially for women and minorities. I have a voice that resonates with people, and early on I made a commitment to use that voice to speak up for the voiceless and speak out on civil and economic injustices, education, and healthcare. Just think, there had never been a female Democrat leader in Ohio’s history until me. That is why I knew I had to be in the room to make a difference.
As a woman who has served in both the Ohio House and U.S. Congress, what advice do you give to our candidates running for the Ohio legislature?
Always speak truth to power and remember honesty, integrity, respect, and civility are great core values to guide you. Have a firm conviction to your values and constituent needs. Be confident and courageous. Don’t look for the easy way out—remember the actions you take during times of challenges and controversy will be looked upon. Learn the rules of engagement, know you will have to make sacrifices—but put family first, plan well, and know it always seems impossible until it’s done. Realize some days will feel like you are on the journey alone—but remember others have walked in your footsteps and now we are marching and running for higher offices.
I remember the week I was sworn in to the Ohio legislature, there was a bill being debated regarding women’s issues—I felt compelled to address the House and I was prepared. However, the tradition was new members waited before speaking so soon on the House floor. I broke the rules—I spoke out. While that incident led to me being called into Speaker Davidson’s Office, it had a pleasant ending. My actions garnered her respect—and soon a powerful Republican leader and I, a Democrat, became friends. People are watching you—so give them something powerful to watch. Remember: When women succeed, America succeeds!
You and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH15) have formed a close political partnership and are known for working successfully across the aisle. How do you manage that and is that something increasingly difficult to achieve these days?
Working together and sharing ideas should be a natural thing to do. However, in today’s political climate it has become increasingly more difficult to work in a bipartisan fashion. Congressman Stivers and I believe in civility and that one can disagree without being disagreeable. We became friends prior to serving together in Congress. We met when there was a problem that brought us together, and we resolved it with a win-win—and that jump-started our belief that opposite parties can work together. It has not always been easy, but we have worked together closely on a number of issues and have crafted legislation that helps all of our constituents in Central Ohio and beyond. Steve and I know that working across the aisle is better for everyone. So that is what we set out to do with the creation of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus. Now we have 34 members (17 Democrats and 17 Republicans) and counting in the Civility and Respect Caucus.
Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby, or a personal interest.
I am very lucky to have a great supportive family—but my grandbabies are the greatest joy. My two grandchildren call me Grammy—like the “Grammy Award” because we are our greatest gift to each other. They keep me focused—they are smart, beautiful, loving—and FUN!