Paul Mounds Jr. '03 returned to the Island on September 29 to speak to juniors as part of the first Pelican Day of the school year. The Saturday morning programming for the Class of 2020 focused on citizenship and leadership.
Paul's leadership experience includes years of service at the national, state, and local levels. In his current role of vice president of policy and communications for the Connecticut Health Foundation, the state's largest independent health philanthropic organization, Paul seeks to inform and advise policy-makers about issues related to health equity.
At Loomis Chaffee, Paul was elected senior class president for the Class of 2003, served as a resident assistant in Taylor Hall, and was a captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams.
"When I get a call to come speak [at Loomis] ... I do it as a way to thank the individuals who took a chance on me and made a difference in my life," Paul said to the nearly 180 juniors gathered in the Hubbard Performance Hall for the presentation.
Paul touched on some defining moments from his time at Loomis — experiences that helped prepare him for professional and volunteer leadership roles as an adult.
Having a title doesn't necessarily make one a good leader, he said, recalling being asked to step in for a senior as quarterback of the football team as a sophomore — before he was ready to lead.
"I performed well as an individual," Paul said, "but as a team — we didn't win a game that season." He furthered that he didn't have the maturity or self-confidence to inspire team unity or to ask anyone for help. A willingness to admit you don't know everything and to ask for help are essential attributes of a good leader, he said. Once he was removed as quarterback, "we became a better team," Paul added.
On the other hand, he said, students shouldn't wait until they have been given a title before taking the lead when a situation warrants action. "Don't let age be a factor as to when you should step up in life," he said. His first day as a prefect in Kravis, he recounted, was September 11, 2001. The tragic events of that day meant he needed to provide support for the students in his dorm — helping to "pull the community back together" and providing reassurance as a young leader. That experience, Paul said, helped prepare him for his first day as director of government affairs for Governor Dannel P. Malloy, when Paul coordinated the state of Connecticut's emergency response to the school shooting in Newtown.
Paul encouraged the students to look for role models and follow their examples in becoming good leaders and better people. He acknowledged several members of the school community, including Joe and Nancy Cleary, Adrian Stewart '90, and Jeff Scanlon '79, who were inspirations to him as a student and to this day. When he was just 27, Paul was asked to serve on the Board of Trustees for his college alma mater, Trinity College. Without the age or experience of his colleagues on the Board, Paul said he took the opportunity to "leech every bit of information" from the respected business and government leaders with whom he served.
Concern for others and for the community motivated Paul to pursue a career in public service. Growing up in East Hartford, Paul said, his parents instilled in him the importance of good citizenship and of helping people as a way to give back for the good you and your family have received from others. Good leaders and good citizenship go hand in hand, he added.
"We need leaders, ... individuals willing to step up to drive change in our communities," Paul said. A Loomis education will help you prepare to be good leaders and good citizens, he told his audience, so "be ready to step up."
Paul earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Trinity, where he participated in the Legislative Internship Program, led Trinity's football team to three undefeated New England Small College Athletic Conference Championships, and was named an All-Conference player for all four years.
He began his career in public service as the federal grants coordinator and press assistant for U.S. Rep. John B. Larson and later served as the congressman's communications director and as interim communications director of the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Caucus. Paul was named senior director of public policy and government relations for Governor Malloy and served as deputy state director for outreach for U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Paul's commitment to the community includes service on the boards of the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and as commissioner on the Connecticut Judicial Selection Commission. He was appointed by Governor Malloy to serve on Connecticut's Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth.Paul and his wife, Samaia Hernandez Mounds, and their infant son returned to the Hartford area from Michigan earlier this year to be closer to family.