Mandee Heinl was always interested in politics. As a senior at Pikesville High School in 2007, she interned for Del. Jon Cardin after hearing him speak to her Hebrew school class at Temple Oheb Shalom.
Eventually, the 26-year-old would go on to graduate from the University of Baltimore with a master’s degree in public administration and hold government jobs in Annapolis and at the Baltimore Jewish Council.
Last year, Heinl left her post under Del. Shelly Hettleman at the State House in part to be closer to her two children, 3-year-old son Samuel and 1-year-old daughter Olivia. When her husband, Steve, departed Baltimore County District 2 Councilwoman Vicki Almond’s staff to take a job with Annapolis-based law firm Hyatt & Weber, Heinl was tapped as his replacement.
Among her responsibilities, Heinl helps write policy, perform constituent services and research and set up appointments for Almond to visit community organizations such as schools and senior centers.
How did you develop your passion for working in government?
I’ve been working a long time, and so when I found something that I loved, thankfully I had enough sense to say, “I love it, and I’m going to put my heart and soul into it.” I have some amazing role models in my life who I look up to now. My whole life, I’ve been around women who work really hard and have shown me that if I work hard, I’ll be rewarded and that working hard is the way to success.
Also, I have a very supportive husband. He has no problem doing bedtime with our kids when I have to work late or putting up with me when I’m grumpy because a vote didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. Not all women have that, and it’s hard to balance being a wife and a mom and having a career that is more than full-time hours.
What does your position entail on a daily basis?
You deal with a lot of day-to-day life issues here and quality- of-life issues. If I drive over a pothole, for example, and pop a tire, that’s pretty irritating, so you have to have someone on the other side of the phone who is friendly and helps you. Before I took this job, I thought that there was not much policy in county government, but I quickly learned that there is quite a bit of policy.
Now, I feel like I can affect as much change behind the scenes if I really understand the issues. I got my drive, figured out what I can do in county government and how I can impact positive change. It’s neat to look back on what I’ve done so far and to see what’s on the radar moving forward.
Do you see yourself running for office one day?
I don’t really know. It’s not really in my plans right now. My gut reaction is that I don’t want to run for office, but you never know. It’s not good to say never. I like being behind the scenes. Politicians are always out, meeting people, talking to people, hearing the public’s concerns, and they have to have someone who has time to read the issues and know every line of policy. That’s what I do, and I love that part of my job. Politicians have to support their initiatives and lead the charge, but they can’t possibly know every line, every period and every comma in legislation.
What is it like to work for Vicki Almond?
I always say that she can walk into a meeting where everyone hates her and is mad or angry about something, then she leaves, and they are inviting her back and giving her a hug goodbye. I don’t necessarily have that trait, but I admire that she does. She’s very different than most elected officials. Many politicians are all about policy and politics, but she is not. She is all about the community, and that’s something that is rare to find. It makes her an incredible person to work under.
She also is a mom and a grandma, so when one of my kids is sick or if I want to go to an event at one of my kids’ schools or if it’s someone’s birthday, there’s never a concern. She knows I’m putting my hours in, and she knows I’m working my butt off.