Amy Abbott, a student veteran from Houston, Texas, is nearing graduation from the LBJ Women’s Campaign School on November 18. A first-generation college student, Amy holds an M.A. from Air University, a B.A. from the University of California, Riverside, and is a J.D. Candidate at the University of Houston Law Center. With over 20 years of military service, she transitioned from the Army to become an Air Force officer, contributing to rule of law in Afghanistan and antiterrorism campaigns in Somalia. Amy is passionate about civil rights, equal opportunities, and protecting the law, aiming to foster belonging as a strength in the U.S. Her dream job involves engaging her community, upholding civil rights, and contributing to Texas' growth for everyone.
Amy's attendance at the LBJ Women's Campaign School reflects her belief in the unifying power of voices and the importance of women's representation in politics. She envisions using the skills acquired to positively impact her community, embodying the principle that empowered women empower women. In addition to her academic pursuits, Amy is proud of her involvement in the PBS documentary "Three Chaplains," which sheds light on the lives of Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military. As she enters this new chapter, Amy is poised to contribute her unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue on democracy, human rights, and the significance of different voices in shaping policy.
Check out the following interview with LBJ WCS graduate and Army and Air Force veteran Amy Abbott.
Favorite food: Sushi or truffle fries!
Favorite movie: The Great Gatsby
Favorite miniseries: Band of Brothers
Favorite president: Barack Obama
Hobbies: Traveling, scuba diving, painting, live music aficionado, expert dog petter and whiskey tasting
Dream job: One of the most rewarding jobs I had was being a part of a Female Engagement Team in Afghanistan, and the work we did with local women in the Kunar province. After I retired from the military, I decided to go to law school and hope to continue work that makes an impact. My dream job after graduation would be working in an area that positively engages my community, upholds our civil rights, and helps grow Texas for everyone!
What drew you to attend the LBJ School Women’s Campaign School?
I strongly believe that there is more that unites us than divides us, and having voices that can bring people together is critical to impacting change. That was my drive to attend the LBJ Women's Campaign School. Additionally, representation matters, and I love to see women taking up space, especially in the political sphere where our voices have remained a minority.
"I strongly believe that there is more that unites us than divides us, and having voices that can bring people together is critical to impacting change." Amy Abbott
Please share your academic and professional journey.
I joined the Army more than 20 years ago, and midway into my career switched over to the Air Force as an officer. Throughout that time, I've been fortunate enough to have first-hand experiences with how global policy can impact communities across the world. I have been a part of efforts to develop rule of law in Afghanistan, freedom of press and speech in Iraq, and antiterrorism campaigns in Somalia. I am proud of many things we accomplished, but as I transitioned from military service my priorities have shifted to focus to my own back yard. There are many rights and civil liberties here that we need to ensure our own people can keep.
I decided that by both going to law school, and attending the LBJ Women's Campaign School, I would be in better position to continue serving, and continue fighting, but this time for my own community.
Are there any specific policy areas or issues that you are particularly passionate about and why?
I am particularly passionate about civil rights - the guarantee of equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law. I believe as a country our diversity is one of our strengths and drives our innovative spirit. We need to recognize and respect that in our policies, regardless of who you love or where you pray.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing U.S. or global policy today?
There is a plethora of policy challenges we face as a country, but advancing our own human rights and democracy I believe is one of the most important. We continue to see an increase in ideological polarization, which limits our tolerance and threatens our democracy.
Have you been involved in any public service, activism, or community engagement efforts?
One of the things I am most proud of, from both a public service and a community engagement lens, is a documentary film I have been able to be a part of called "Three Chaplains". It features three Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military whose role is to support and defend the religious rights of all service members. It does an amazing job portraying how these chaplains fight to maintain a balanced devotion to Islam, the Constitution and the military. It also showcases what sometimes is a dichotomy to be a Muslim, Black, and wear the uniform in today's America. I loved being a part of the visual storytelling that gave an honest, nuanced look into lives we don't often see portrayed in the media. It goes back to the fact that in the small spaces that divide us, there truly is more that unites us, we just have to be willing to look for it. "Three Chaplains" aired on PBS Nov 6.
What goals do you hope to achieve in your career?
By going through the LBJ Women's Campaign School I really hope to be able to put in the near future all the tools we learned into action. How that looks is still to be seen, but I know that I, and the entire cohort, are better equipped to take a more active role in our democracy because of the program. Empowered women, empower women - and we definitely did that here!
"I know that I, and the entire cohort, are better equipped to take a more active role in our democracy because of the program. Empowered women, empower women - and we definitely did that here!" Amy Abbott