A Passion for Political Service

by Kara Gibbs '96

Lindsey (Lorinovich) Carlton ’00 always knew she wanted to move to Washington, D.C., after graduation. She aspired to work for a politician in either legislative or administrative work, concentrating on campaigns.

“Some people advised me that Christians should not be involved in politics,” she says. “But in chapel, Dr. (Paul) Dixon encouraged us to reach the world for Christ and be a testimony in whatever employment field we chose.” With that in mind, Lindsey began looking for work on Capitol Hill.

She soon accepted a job as a legislative correspondent for Charlie Bass, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to being in the front office, Lindsey conducted research for a legislative assistant, wrote constituent letters, and worked as the tour coordinator for the office. “It was a great opportunity to learn the ropes of how congressional offices function, and I really enjoyed it,” she says. “A few months after I started on Capitol Hill, I realized that I wanted to do more administrative work and interact more with the congressman.”

Her more focused aspirations led to a position as schedule/office manager — a job with quite a bit of responsibility, including supervising the office’s $1.3 million budget. She also served as the congressman’s personal aide and handled personnel compensation and scheduling when he was in D.C.

Part of this role required organizing a weekly breakfast that Bass hosted at the Capitol for current and former members of Congress. “I would coordinate the breakfasts and request high caliber speakers to address the members,” Lindsey says. “It was closed to staff and the press, but they let me stay since I had met some of the guests. It was amazing to sit in on discussions between the members and the speakers.”

At these breakfasts, Lindsey was able to meet and hear Vice President Dick Cheney, Alan Greenspan, cabinet members and department heads, news and media personalities, military leaders, and heads of companies. Lindsey found it to be a fascinating experience and the highlight of her four years there. “I learned a lot sitting in on those meetings!” she says.

At Cedarville, Lindsey majored in political science and minored in public administration. She believes her undergraduate years were instrumental in preparing her to maintain her values and standards while working in an extremely secular environment. While many professors influenced her perspectives and values, she credits Dr. Kevin Sims, professor of political science, with sparking her interest in politics.

“He not only taught about politics,” she says, “but also had an open door policy for his students. His encouragement gave me the confidence to break away from the security of Cedarville, family, and friends and to pursue a career in a sometimes lonely place.”

As Lindsey reflected on her undergraduate years and remembered Dr. Dixon’s chapel statement, she e-mailed the former Cedarville president, hoping to share the need for Cedarville to incorporate D.C. into its career services’ focus and outreach. “There is such a need for Christians in the political environment,” says Lindsey. “Because he was so responsive to my e-mail, the networking in D.C. began, and many people have been influenced for Christ.” Cedarville can thank Lindsey for being the pioneer in securing student internships there.

Since then, many students have had the opportunity to pursue work on Capitol Hill, one of whom was Stephanie Carlton ’02 who contacted Lindsey about applying for a D.C. internship. The two began e-mailing, and Stephanie shared with Lindsey some of her family’s messages, including several from her brother, Paul. Eventually, more of Lindsey’s e-mails were going to Paul than to Stephanie, and a relationship began to build. But it was a long-distance one, as Paul was deployed to Iraq at the time. He flew F-16s for the first few months of the war, until the major combat operations were completed.

“God used that time to strengthen our friendship and work on our hearts,” Lindsey says. “When he returned from the war, we dated long-distance for a year. We were married at the end of 2004 and now serve our country as a team. It is a unique calling.”

Right now, Lindsey considers her main role to be supporting her husband so he can effectively serve and protect the country. This often means many work trips, numerous training exercises, and standard 12-hour days. Another part of Lindsey’s job as an officer’s wife is to support and take care of other wives.

In closing, Lindsey adds, “I guess a word that sums this all up is service. Cedarville instills this mentality in students through the numerous ministry opportunities available. Paul and I believe our life goal is to first serve our Lord and then our country. Often that comes with many challenges, but having a keen sense of purpose helps propel us through those challenging times. I can’t adequately describe the rewards that come from service.”

Lindsey and her husband, Major Paul K. Carlton III, recently finished a tour with the royal air force in the U.K., where Paul flew the Eurofighter Typhoon. They recently moved to Alabama for Paul to attend Air Command and Staff College for a year. They are expecting their first child in October.