Bobby Mannis

The Wisdom in the Room

Before you are a global citizen you are a citizen of your own country — or state. Bobby Mannis (SLA ’18) is fulfilling his responsibilities as a citizen of the state of Illinois as he works on the front lines of democracy.

Mannis listens closely as he meets stakeholders, “knowing that the wisdom is in the room” — the mantra by which Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton leads.

Mannis is the policy director for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois — and he’s only 23 years old. He graduated from the School of Liberal Arts with a double major in political science and economics in 2018.

Mannis said that he learned to listen and take a step back from Walter Isaacson, Tulane University Professor of History and best-selling author, when he took Isaacson’s History of the Digital Revolution class.

“Now I’m on the other side of it. … I’m working to translate the campaign promises and the interests of the leaders who’ve taken office into real change for the residents we serve.”

BOBBY MANNIS (SLA ’18), policy director for the Illinois lieutenant governor

“Professor Isaacson created a space where people could disagree without being disagreeable,” said Mannis. “That helped show me how to interact while working in government and prepared me to execute on the lieutenant governor’s principles of inclusion and empathy.”

Mannis focuses on rural affairs, women’s issues and criminal justice reform. One early accomplishment in his office is the creation of the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, which centralizes criminal justice reform work in Illinois for the first time under the lieutenant governor.

While he was a student at Tulane, Mannis volunteered, interned or worked on at least nine political campaigns, from the school level, to city council to the state senate and U.S. Senate. 

(above photo by Richard Saal)