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Young alum steps up to help Barrett Honors College

April 22, 2011

Generosity doesn’t have an age requirement. Nor does a gift have to be a certain size, as long as it’s given in the right spirit, Meghan Cox believes.

Cox, a 2007 ASU graduate, has made her second donation to Barrett, the ASU Honors College, this time a $25,000 pledge over five years to the dean’s fund. Two years ago she made a $5,000 gift establishing five scholarships to help offset the cost for Barrett students of studying overseas.

Her motivation is to give other ASU students some of the same opportunities she had when she was a student at Barrett.

“The biggest foundation for success for me was my experience at Barrett, all the growth opportunities I had there,” says Cox, who is a partner in a political and public affairs strategy firm, Lincoln Strategy Group. “I learned how to think, to develop my own opinions and thoughts. It seems a small thing, but I without it I wouldn’t be as competent. I wouldn’t have chosen the career path I have.”

Cox was considering a pre-med major when she entered ASU in 1999, after growing up in the small Arizona town of Winslow. But she started working on the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain as a freshman and discovered she loved the energy and the challenge of politics.

Changing her major to political science, she interned at McCain’s office in Washington, D.C. and worked on several campaigns at the local and state level while attending ASU.

At ASU she was involved in student government, serving as director of government relations for ASASU. During her senior year she chaired a committee to develop separate student government groups for undergraduates and graduate students. She also was part of the ASU Student Foundation, Barrett Honors Devils and Sigma Kappa sorority.

One year she studied abroad in France, which she calls “the most impactful experience I had while at ASU.”

By senior year in 2004, Cox already was working for Lincoln Strategy Group as a junior associate, and she designed a national get-out-the-vote grassroots strategy for the Republican National Committee that she implemented in eight battleground states and that employed more than 10,000 people. At that point she left ASU, two classes short of her degree.

It was three years before she was able to finish her courses to graduate. But by then she was traveling the country, advising clients in strategic initiatives, issue advocacy, corporate social responsibility and social media strategies.

In 2008 she proved her mettle, spending four months on the road advocating for an energy client and successfully bringing energy issues into focus in the presidential debates. She was named a partner in her firm that year.

With policy and trade work, Cox currently specializes in ballot access, energy and gaming issue advocacy strategy. She still travels a good deal, since the firm has contracts in 40 states.

She’s also heavily involved in community efforts for youth, focusing on mentoring opportunities with at-risk youth. She works with Florence Crittenton, Valley Kids Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is on the advisory board for the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation. She’s part of ASU Women in Philanthropy and the Barrett alumni board. 

Now 30, Cox has owned her own home for seven years and realizes she’s got a jump on many of her Millennial Generation peers. But she says there’s no reason for other young people not to step up to the plate.

“I’d like to encourage others to do what they can to help, regardless of the amount,” she says. “My gift is relatively small. With all the budget cuts, the downturn in our economy, that’s when people need a hand. If you’re in a position to help, why wait? Those of us in the private sector can step in and make a difference.”