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An Interview with Melissa Llarena

Aug 18, 2020

This week, Martha Hennessey joins me on the show! Martha was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2014 and then to the NH State Senate in 2016. She chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has served on the Health & Human Resources and Transportation Committees. 

Martha and I started the conversation by discussing what it was like to be in politics and later the dynamics at play when it comes to influencing or changing policy. We also discussed being open to taking on something different in our career and following your curiosities. In Martha’s case, at the age of 60, she decided to go into politics. She allowed her interest and curiosity to lead her. Beyond politics, Martha and I discussed the many personal decisions parents face during these tumultuous times and the importance of letting go of shame or guilt around those decisions. This was an amazing conversation and I really hope you enjoy it! 

Before joining the NH Legislature, Senator Hennessey was an educational psychologist in Boston and then Hanover. She graduated from Dartmouth College, as a member of the first fully-coeducational class, majoring in psychology. Later she received an MBA from the Wharton School and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, at the University of Pennsylvania. In the NH Senate, Hennessey’s legislative priorities have included criminal justice reform, women’s reproductive rights, gender equity, LGBTQ+ rights, and gun violence prevention. Senator Hennessey and her husband returned to Hanover in 2001, after raising their three children in Massachusetts. They have five granddaughters and two small dogs. 

Tune in to hear Martha’s thoughts pertaining to:

  • Martha talks about the differences between serving in the House vs. the Senate. (10:27)
  • How she was talked into running for the House of Representatives. (12:44)
  • What was fun about being a part of the House and comparing it to college. (13:06)
  • Martha and I discuss coincidences and how they impact our career outcomes. (18:07)
  • Some of the challenges Martha experienced during her time in the House and Senate, the policies she has spoken up for and the vetoes process, wow! (20:04)
  • The notion of the feeling of power within politics. (32:15)
  • Martha shares openly about how her family was her training ground. (35:15)
  • Women rights are still needed! (38:30)
  • We discuss change, why it’s hard, but also necessary. (39:44)
  • How a conversation with her father helped Martha ultimately decide to go into politics. (50:32)
  • She talks about the impact of her father’s approval even later in life and his unconditional love. (52:25)
  • Why we must stop parent shaming and stop “shoulding” on ourselves! Instead, recognize what you DID do in a day and stand by your parental decisions. (1:00:59)

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