Homegrown Southeast Senator Anna Wishart

LSE alum gives back to her community through public service


Southeast alumni Anna Wishart poses in Nebraska capital building. Photo Credit : annawishart.com

Molly Leyden, Online Editor

Senator Anna Wishart has a day filled with movement and interaction. From speaking and negotiating with her fellow representatives, to hearing the ideas and desires of those she speaks for, Wishart’s day mainly consists of balancing constant communication, especially when it comes to listening to others.

When a session in the Nebraska Legislative Chamber comes to a recess, she finds time to attend to some of the tasks that come with her daily job. This balance can be a challenge, but Wishart takes the time to do it all as service to her community.

Southeast alumni Wishart is currently serving as the Senator for Nebraska’s 27th district. The 27th district is West Lincoln and parts of Lancaster County. Wishart also serves as the Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and on the Tribal Relations Committee. 

Wishart was born and raised in Lincoln and graduated from Southeast in 2003. After graduating, she attended Middlebury College as a Film Studies major. She is very passionate about film, but found that in Nebraska, the opportunities in film production were hard to find. This is when she turned to her other passion, public service.

“I was not a political person growing up at all. I mean, I voted and was engaged in constitutional debate, history and civics. But I wasn’t connected to any one political party,” said Wishart.

Wishart admits she was not very politically active or interested in high school. However, her interest began to grow when she served on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission in Lincoln. Bikes and trail improvement are something she is passionate about. She found that it was a small commitment and a way for her to give back to her community. Wishart realized she wanted to be involved in politics after graduating college.

“I was home during the summer after college and was at a women’s luncheon where Senator Amanda McGill was speaking. It was a women’s luncheon celebrating Helen Boosalis, our first woman mayor here in Lincoln, and my mom took me,” Wishart said. 

It was from this luncheon where Wishart felt the call to action in Lincoln politics.

“[McGill] spoke to every woman, but especially every young woman in the room. She said you really need to get involved now, don’t wait,” Wishart said. “There’s not enough of us. And a lot of the issues that we pass are issues that impact women. I turned to my mom that day and said I think I want to get involved and serve and so I ran for the Lincoln Airport Authority.”

Wishart was elected to the Lincoln Airport Authority in 2011. She was drawn to the Airport Authority specifically because of the many pilots in her family. While serving in this role, Wishart worked to increase passengers and flights. She also encouraged economic development at the airport’s industrial park.

After serving on the Lincoln Airport Authority for five years, Wishart was elected to serve District 27 in 2016. She did this after winning 70 percent of the vote and knocking on more than 20,000 doors over the course of two years.

When it comes to Wishart’s view on young people in politics today, she says, “It’s so important that that young individuals have a voice. And it is pretty incredible how in Nebraska at least if somebody reaches out by the phone or email to their Senator, how much that could change the senators opinion on a piece of legislation.”

While Wishart encourages reaching out to representatives and advocating for personal beliefs and speaking with officials. She also understands the importance that voting has, especially for young people.

“Voting is a habit that you have to form. If an individual doesn’t get into that habit, they’re less likely to be voting when they’re older as well, statistically. So it’s so important for for young individuals to register to vote as early as possible,” Wishart said.

Wishart also believes there are easier and more accessible ways for young people to be involved and share their voices.

“I think that oftentimes, there’s this sort of notion of you’re either involved in politics, either working in government or an elected official, or you’re not, and there’s so many ways and that an individual can get involved based on the time and commitment they want to put in. So there’s a real spectrum there.”

Wishart has experienced Nebraska’s political landscape as a young woman first-hand. The common corruption of politicians because of money is something that saddens her and hurts her love for her work. 

“I would choose meaningful work over money any day.”

She knows that political involvement is not an easy task, she also knows the importance of the involvement of students and young people in politics.

“I think there is not only an opportunity, but an obligation for all of us to be involved in some way in service to our community”.