Andrew McIndoe credits a virtuous upbringing for spurring his almost non-stop involvement in public affairs since his early teenage years. Now a 22-year-old cum laude graduate of Grove City College, the North Carolina native is bringing a small town approach to a big government city. Hours before leaving for Washington to start a year of management training with the Charles G. Koch Associate Program, McIndoe reflected on a unique journey.
“Growing up in a Christian home really shaped where I am today and the things I believe,” the young professional said. “Coming from small town America; it really helps you connect with people.”
To say McIndoe made the most of his youth is probably an understatement. Since age 14, he has attended the Leadership Institute School, served as the youth campaign coordinator for a high-profile congressional race, completed the Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Program offered by The Phillips Foundation, and interned at The Leadership Institute, The Reagan Ranch Center, and The Heritage Foundation. Though his stand for limited government and free markets developed at a young age while talking with his family at the dinner table, a haunting experience opened his eyes even wider.
“I recently paid my taxes for the first time as a real-world adult,” McIndoe recalled. “I’m scared to think about what tax returns will look like in 20 years.”
While most young people may technically understand the difference between a million, billion, and trillion dollars, McIndoe believes many of his peers fail to grasp the seriousness of the deficits and debt being heaped on their generation.
“Young people today have to do something to turn this nation away from disaster,” McIndoe said, striking a surprisingly optimistic tone. “But I truly believe the best ideas will win, because the best ideas are conservative.”
McIndoe said young people must use their sphere of influence – especially on Facebook and Twitter – to engage their friends and classmates. He also recommends writing articles in college newspapers, starting debates in class, reading books by free market giants like Milton Friedman, and visiting The Foundry and additional Heritage Foundation web resources.
“Heritage is the lighthouse for many millions of Americans,” he said. “They illuminate the issues with some of the most incredible research you will ever find.”
McIndoe fondly recalls his 2009 Heritage internship, where he worked closely with members of the development office on community outreach projects. He cherishes the months he was able to attend policy briefings and learn from experts throwing their arms around the challenges America faces. Perhaps most importantly, his Heritage experience connected him with other interns from across the nation, who he now keeps in touch with as colleagues and friends.
“We are trying to make sure we have a grassroots impact,” McIndoe enthusiastically explained. “Heritage has inspired me to get involved with more development initiatives in the future.”
Andrew McIndoe has navigated a long tunnel from his family’s Oak Ridge dinner table to some of the nation’s most prestigious think tanks and policy institutes. Even though he hopes to someday return to The Heritage Foundation, his final destination is unclear. Yet the young conservative firmly believes there is a bright light waiting for anyone who wants to make an impact in the land of opportunity.
“America’s best days are ahead of us. We need to be happy warriors, and use our time, talent, and treasure to make it happen.”