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Alumna in Politics Offers Smart, Fresh Perspective

Liz Stafford Kurantowicz, a 2000 graduate of Northwest Catholic High School, returned to her alma mater Wednesday as a guest speaker in the school’s new Alumni LEADS program. 

The West Hartford high school instituted its comprehensive leadership curriculum named LEADS (Leadership, Engagement, Accountability, Determination, Service) in 2015. This fall the program expanded, and one of its new initiatives is to forge connections between alumni and current students. This week Liz Stafford Kurantowicz helped deepen that connection by offering a smart, fresh perspective on politics.

Kurantowicz joked, “They say you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics, and here we are at a Catholic school talking about both!” The chuckling continued when she told the story of how she met her husband the first day of freshman English. Today the couple lives in Fairfield with their two children.

When Kurantowicz got down to business, she held the audience with a speedy synopsis of her fascinating career path. After graduating from Fordham University in 2004, Kurantowicz dived headlong into politics. She spoke fondly of interning for Nancy Johnson, working for Governor Jodi Rell, starting the first independent expenditure political action committee, airing on a weekly WTNH talk show, and being a guest pundit on WNPR, which she joked “might as well be NWC at NPR,” since so many reporters and interviewees are Northwest Catholic graduates.  Unapologetically, Kurantowicz told the students she is a Republican despite it being difficult to say so in today’s climate. 

Two years ago Kurantowicz started her own advocacy company, committed to influencing conversations in Connecticut. She has also had the opportunity to work nationally and internationally, with one her most profound experiences working with Tunisian officials on building political structures and using social media to drive a conversation. 

Kurantowicz gave the students a lesson in government, from discussing ways in which bills are slipped through at the eleventh hour to how issues that may not seem “sexy” are vital to Connecticut’s health.

Speaking fondly of teachers and coaches at Northwest Catholic, Kurantowicz  talked about her early interest in politics, and, in particular, her time in ACTS (A Chance to Serve). She said today she continues to call on her early experiences with community service. Kurantowicz, a swimmer at NWC, drew a clear analogy between politics and sports: “You need to leave it all on the field,” and “when you lose, you need to lick your wounds and discover what’s next.” She also tied the conversation surrounding Connecticut politics directly to the students, asking, “How many of you think you’ll return to Connecticut after college to work and live?” “Will you be able to afford to?”

Kurantowicz is about bipartisanship. She’s about more than one party having a voice in politics. She’s about compromise and conversation and transparency and honesty. She revealed all of these qualities in her conversation with the students on Wednesday morning. She also demonstrated what it means to be a straight-shooter with great political acumen while always staying open to opposition. Northwest Catholic was delighted to have Liz back “home” for a visit and to illustrate for its burgeoning political scientists what a career in advocacy and service is all about.