Conrad Returns to Legislature – Unicameral Update
Above: Senator Danielle Conrad with husband Tom and children Caroline and Will enjoying the arboretum on the East campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
When Lincoln Senator Danielle Conrad left the Legislature due to term limits in 2015 after eight years in office, she recalls thinking that “never say never” when it comes to returning to politics. But she took the opportunity to shift focus.
Conrad accepted the role of executive director at the ACLU of Nebraska—a move that allowed her to remain involved in public policy and legislative issues while taking the organization to new heights.
“We were a really small and ragtag team. We had a pretty modest budget and four employees,” she said. “I was able to help grow the organization to about a dozen people during the eight years at the helm [people] and quadrupled the budget.”
It was a worthwhile endeavor and a labor of love, Conrad said.
Being eight years away from public service also provided an opportunity not only to get involved in important state policy issues through her work at the ACLU, she said, but also gave her “a little breathing space” to care for her family and expand.
While daughter Caroline was born during Conrad’s first term in the Legislature in 2011, she and husband Tom welcomed their second child, Will, in 2016. It was important to have the time to be present and engage with her son – something she hopes her work at Unicameral will allow other families to do.
The more flexible schedule also meant the family had time for more adventures, including fishing and hugging outdoors.
“In summer we live by the swimming pool,” she says, “and in winter we live by the toboggan slope.”
But as much as she loved her new life, Conrad felt called to return to public service in 2022 to try and make a difference on a broader scale after witnessing “storm clouds” on the political horizon.
“If I could possibly do more with my unique experiences to try and make a positive difference, then I just have to try,” she said.
This time, Conrad had help from her children—knocking on doors, checking off hikers’ lists, and putting up farm signs on the dirt road.
It was a “real family affair” and a way to demonstrate to her children that when they see an issue in the community that needs solving or a challenge that needs to be taken on, they should step in, Conrad said.
Her experiences as a mother of two, wife of a small business owner, and supportive of her husband in caring for his aging parents have given Conrad a deeper understanding of several key issues facing the state during her sophomore stint in the Legislature.
“I think my life experiences today are much broader and more diverse than during my previous tenure when I joined as a single young professional, and I think there are many significant benefits to those lived experiences,” said Conrad.