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Gretchen Conger

Gretchen Conger, 36

Chief of Staff

Office of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Little Rock

Professional achievements
• Helped design and oversee the implementation of legislation to improve public safety, public education and expand education choice in multiple states.
• Under Governor Sanders’ leadership, helped cut taxes for Arkansans not once but twice.

Community involvement
Volunteer at the local food bank; contribute to organizations focused on foster and adoption and education scholarships for children..

First job and lesson learned
“I was the legislative liaison for two executive branch agencies in Arizona. I learned a lot about government inefficiencies caused by dated laws and old ways of doing things. But more importantly, I learned a lot of lessons about good, hardworking public servants and their desire to work in positions of service. Bureaucracy is real, but most government employees are hardworking people trying to do a good job for their fellow citizens.”

Best thing about Arkansas
“Its people. Southern hospitality is real and everyone should have the opportunity to live with a community of people who care about one another, and that’s what Arkansas has been to me.”

Most valuable lesson
“I learn new lessons every day, but one of the most valuable is that in my industry, integrity is our most important asset. Once you lose your integrity, you can’t get it back. Learning who you can trust and who you cannot is key to success in this business.”

Advice for your 18-year-old self
“It’s OK to fail. The lessons you learn from your shortcomings will be much more powerful than those you learn from your success.”

Professional inspiration
“I have two professional inspirations. The first is working for elected officials in whom I believe. The second is working alongside a team of passionate leaders who have servants’ hearts and a true desire to make their state a better place for all.”

Top challenge facing Arkansas
“While I believe we have made significant progress toward improving our education system, I still believe education is our top challenge, and the area where we can have the most impact. When every third grader in Arkansas can read at or above grade level, I know many of our other challenges will become much smaller hurdles to overcome.”

Advice for future 40 Under 40 honorees
“The same advice I give myself: Never take for granted the beauty and the greatness of the state we live in. We have an opportunity to be leaders not just in our daily work, but in our communities, and we should take that responsibility seriously.”

Learning from a mentor
“My mentor is my first chief of staff in a prior governor’s office. He taught me what it means to outwork your competition, and that the key to leadership is to genuinely care about those you are entrusted to lead.”

Professional “aha” moment
“One moment that sticks out was during a prior job as the legislative director for another governor. I used to think that I had to know the answer to every question at any moment. The ‘aha’ moment came when I realized I was part of a much bigger team, and I didn’t have to know everything, but rather I needed to know who knew it, and be able to delegate to and rely on my colleagues. That was the day I learned how much more I could do as one member of a much bigger team.”

Career dream as a child
“After I got over my professional ballerina phase, I was pretty certain I would grow up to be a pediatrician. Life proved me wrong and directed me toward politics and policy. I’m glad it did.”

Most fulfilling career moment
“I am most fulfilled when I get to mentor and coach younger individuals as they grow in their roles.”

Making Arkansas more attractive to young professionals
“As a young professional who chose Arkansas, I clearly found it attractive for many reasons. If I had to pick one thing that would make it even more attractive, I would say a more vibrant downtown Little Rock.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years
“I have a heart for public service and public policy, so I can only hope that whatever I’m doing in 10 years allows me to continue working in an influential way on impacting policies to better the lives of my fellow citizens.”

How you define success
“Success for me is having a career where I can see the fruits of my labor and I know I’m having an impact. If even one person’s life is positively impacted by the work I’ve done, then I’ve succeeded.”

One word to describe you
“Tenacious.”

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40 Under 40

June 10, 2025

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