Betsy Wright Hawkings has built a reputation for integrity, leadership, mentorship and service on both sides of the aisle and across the political spectrum. She currently serves as the Program Director for The Democracy Fund’s Governance Initiative, which seeks to foster dialogue across the ideological spectrum and support changes focused on reducing incentives for hyper-partisanship and gridlock in government.
As chief of staff for two decades for her hometown congressman, Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Betsy took a leading role in helping Rep. Shays build bipartisan coalitions to balance the federal budget in 1995-96; to apply civil rights, fair labor standards and workplace safety laws to Congress; and to establish the 9-11 Commission and implement its recommendations. She has also served as Deputy Director of the Congressional Management Foundation, Managing Director of Government Relations and Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Advocacy and Research for Amnesty International USA, and chief of staff for Congressmen Mike Turner of Ohio, Bobby Schilling of Illinois and most recently Andy Barr of Kentucky.
Since joining the Democracy Fund (DF), Betsy has built and expanded its Governance grantmaking portfolio into more entrepreneurial space, supporting emerging non-profits working to expand the capacity of Congress to fulfill its responsibility to the American people. Under her leadership, DF has not only helped develop and fund new campaigns for needed evolution of congressional systems, processes and procedures; but conceived and invested in innovative programs to deepen leadership development for members of Congress and staff alike.
Betsy is known as an effective fundraiser, dynamic communicator and passionate advocate, able to promote the strategic goals of her organization and its leadership as well as the professional growth of her staff. She has proven her ability to manage organizations through change and serves as a mentor to many, in Washington and around the country.
Betsy is a graduate of Williams College, where she was named a Mead Scholar of American Studies, and is a founder of the Form of 1981 Memorial Fund at her alma mater, Groton School, to support student financial aid. Awarded the Cresswell Congressional Staff Leadership Award from the Stennis Center for Public Service in 2014, she is a former Stennis Congressional Fellow and a recipient of Groton’s “Cui Servire Est Regnare” award for “service to country, community and the School.” She is a strong believer in and promoter of the virtue of public service.
Betsy lives with her husband, veteran congressional journalist David Hawkings, in Washington. They have two sons.