Ms. Donnelley, the 30-year-old great great granddaughter of printer Richard Robert Donnelley, hopes to add a congressional member's pin to her collection through a successful congressional campaign in Illinois' 10th District.
On Nov. 1, Ms. Donnelley took leaves of absence from her positions as manager of political affairs at R.R. Donnelley & Sons and chairman of Direct Voice, the political action committee for the Direct Marketing Association, to further explore a run for office. She recently moved in with her grandmother in Libertyville, a Chicago suburb within the 10th District, and was expected to announce her candidacy on the Republican ticket last Saturday .
Though she has never run for office before, Ms. Donnelley began garnering campaign experience as a teen-age volunteer. During college at Loyola University in New Orleans, Ms. Donnelley worked for the Republican National Committee at the 1988 convention, and as a graduate student studying political communications at Emerson College in Boston, she worked for the Bush-Quayle campaign and for former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
She moved to Chicago and became one of the lobbying voices for the family printing company after receiving her master's degree.
SOONER THAN EXPECTED
While Ms. Donnelley, a debater, thought a run for political office might be in the future, she didn't expect the opportunity to arise so soon.
Mark Micali, VP-government affairs for the DMA, thought of Ms. Donnelley immediately when U.S. Rep. John Porter announced he was retiring. Mr. Micali was one of many people who told Ms. Donnelley she would be an ideal candidate.
"She has a real passion for politics and it's demonstrated in a number of ways," said Mr. Micali, who has walked the halls of Congress with Ms. Donnelley many times. "She's been a very effective lobbyist and will bring to the job a very strong background in business that will be good for the community in general."
Last year, Ms. Donnelley successfully lobbied with the DMA in support of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which placed a three-year moratorium on new state and local taxes on Internet access and created a balanced commission to review taxation of goods and services on the Net. As a representative for the largest customer of the U.S. Postal Service, she also has frequently lobbied for postal reform.
In addition to her experience lobbying for R.R. Donnelley and direct marketers, Ms. Donnelley sits on the boards of eight charitable organizations and is on the board of trustees at both her alma maters.
As one of the few members of the advertising and direct marketing industry to run for office, Ms. Donnelley said she would bring an interesting perspective to Congress but doesn't plan to be a mouthpiece for the industry.
If she does manage to add the member's pin to her lapel, Ms. Donnelley is confident her lobbying experience would come in handy.
"I think I could hit the ground running," she said. "I know many, many of my future colleagues."