The State Policy Network is pleased to welcome Michael Harden to the team as our newest Senior Director of Development. Michael comes to SPN from Georgia where he was the Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity Georgia and previously served in the Georgia legislature. To help you get to know him, we asked him to share his story and what motivates him to work with donors and organizations to help increase freedom and opportunity in America.
“I was raised by a single mom who taught me the meaning of hard work. Watching her struggle to provide me and my brother with our shot at the American dream has always inspired me to fight for the “little guy” and to level the playing field every chance I get.
I got involved in politics in 2000. At the time, I thought I understood freedom. But it wasn’t until 2009 when I was sworn into the Georgia House of Representatives that I realized we could do better than a simple party position. I quickly became a thorn in the side of House leadership and have enjoyed swimming upstream ever since. From local property rights to government-run healthcare, I get fired up any time I see people relinquishing their rights to inept government bodies.
I’ve attended the SPN Annual Meeting for the last four years and have been impressed not only with the impact of State Policy Network, but also the highly talented people who make up its staff and partners. When I saw a chance to use my skills to contribute to the mission, I had to give it a shot, and I feel tremendously blessed to be here.
“I believe that our country is the greatest human experiment in history and being able to look back knowing that I did what I could to preserve that for my children means a great deal to me.”
I’m excited to serve a great team of front-line fundraisers who spend every day working to gather more resources, so our Network can pursue freedom in bigger ways. Working with them to identify and successfully engage our gracious donors is a great passion of mine. I look forward to doing my part to deliver the resources to grow our capabilities in the states.”
SPN: If you had one piece of advice for others considering a career like yours, what would it be?
Michael: Hire people smarter than you are. It’s simple I know, but it’s served me well for years. I can honestly say my successes would have been a fraction if it weren’t for the great folks that I’ve surrounded myself with.
SPN: When you’re not improving the world at work, where are you likely to be found? What are your favorite hobbies and pastimes?
Michael: On our farm working to check items off my wife’s ‘honey-do list’! I love farming and spending time doing so with my family. My four-year-old still thinks I’m cool, so spending time with him working and playing is one of my greatest joys.
I’ve become quite obsessed in trying to produce the perfect smoked bacon. On rainy Saturdays when other chores are unlikely to get done, I can usually be found manning the smoker in pursuit of that perfect pork belly (aka God’s candy). I keep telling my wife ‘that makes me like the perfect guy’ but she just giggles and walks away. Is that normal?