Paul Mounds Jr. ’07 Shares Advice from a Career in Connecticut Politics

Focus, Hard Work, and Passion for Service Led Mounds to Position in Governor’s Office

Hartford, CT, March 9, 2015 – When Paul Mounds Jr. ’07 was a student at Trinity, he said his career goal was to do policy work for a state legislator or a member of Congress. It wasn’t long before he needed to recalibrate his goals: Mounds interned for a State Senator while still a Trinity student, and his first job after graduation was in the office of Congressman John Larson. Now, he is the director of government affairs for Governor Dannel P. Malloy. On February 12, Mounds shared his experience and career advice with a group of about 100 students in McCook Auditorium.

“In my mind,” he said simply, “politics is just the study of people and why people care about things,” and that definition is what shapes the work that Mounds does, negotiating with legislators to advance the governor’s agenda.

As a student, Mounds immersed himself in political science, completing all of his major requirements by his junior year. Though he can quickly rattle off the names of political science texts he consults to this day, he credits much of his success to experiences he had outside of the classroom. As a former member of the Trinity football team, Mounds spent plenty of time watching game footage and preparing for his next opponent. Today, he can be found watching public hearings and committee meetings in the office and in the gym on The Connecticut Television Network (Connecticut's C-SPAN equivalent).

Trinity’s legislative internship program was another landmark experience for Mounds, who worked for the state senator representing Trinity and then-chairman of the Energy Committee, John Fonfara, a graduate of Trinity’s master’s program. Mounds recalls (believe it or not, fondly) spending his 22nd birthday at a public hearing until 2:00 a.m. That work ethic served him well when he graduated and joined the office of Congressman John Larson, then Chairman of the Congressional House Democratic Caucus, as grants coordinator and press assistant. Shortly thereafter, Mounds became Larson's press secretary and served as the interim communications director for the entire House Democratic Caucus.

“I learned a lot about myself in that job,” he recalled, reflecting on the day when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several members of her staff were shot and Mounds was called upon to work with the Democratic Leadership to coordinate the Democratic Caucus’s response. “My job needed 100 percent of me and I had to be focused. I wouldn’t have been prepared for that job without what I learned at Trinity.”

Later, he went to work for Senator Richard Blumenthal as deputy state director and then joined the staff of Governor Malloy as a senior policy analyst. As the director of government relations, Mounds manages a team of three and deals with some of the most important issues facing the state.

“It all comes back to that one day – February 14, 2003 – when I got a letter from Larry Dow [recently retired dean of admissions] saying I had been accepted to Trinity College,” said Mounds, the youngest member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees. “Trinity gave me a chance. Everyone who ever hired me gave me a chance, and I pride myself on doing everything I can not to let them down.”