President and founder, Patricia Lynch Associates, Inc.
The indomitable Patricia Lynch picked up her taste for politics around the dinner table as a child in Utica, New York.
“I grew up in an Italian-Irish household, where the political discussion was always very lively,” she said. “It was not quiet.”
After cold-calling Albany Mayor Erastus Corning for her first volunteer job in politics at age 18, she set about a career in communications. She has since worked in Washington, D.C., and Albany as both a Senate minority communications director and as a top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Twelve years ago she opened her own firm, Patricia Lynch Associates, which has since become one of the state’s largest lobbying firms.
Lynch works every waking minute of her day. Asked where she makes her home now, she said, half-joking, “People in my life will tell you I live on a plane.”
Lynch treats media relations in lobbying and government as an art form, one that was newly emerging when she entered the field in the late 1970s.
For women in those days, “if you were going to be at the table, you specialized in fundraising or media relations,” Lynch said.
If she could go back and do it again now that there are more options for women, would she have run for office?
Lynch has no regrets. “I love every second of what I do,” she said. “I’ve always loved every second of what I do.”
How did you get your start?
I was always fascinated by politics, by current issues. When I was 18 I didn’t know any better, so I picked up the phone and called one of the most famous, most well-respected people, the dean of Democratic politics in the northeast at that point. That person was Erastus Corning. I learned ward politics in the Democratic Party from the street up—petitions, candidates, polls. Those lessons served me well both when I was inside government and now, when I’m representing clients.
On balance, has being a woman helped or hurt?
Let’s face it—as a woman I wasn’t going to be doing the poker game or the cigars or the golf. So we made it more of a campaign format. We perfected the format of campaigns, strategy, walking the hallways, as well. It was a generational change, in the art of advocating on behalf of clients. And in between all of it, I had two children. It just goes with the turf.
What is the worst advice anyone ever gave you?
It was 1974, and I’m a junior in high school. My guidance counselor, a person who is supposed to help you with your career, told me, “Why bother going to college? You’re just going to get married and have kids.” I do wish I could find that guy today. I just hope that other people in school with me paid no attention to him like I paid no attention to him.
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