FAMOUS 5: ROBERT ORDWAY

Originally Posted at  Famous DC on July 11, 2019

Most people come to The Hill by way of an internship during or just after college and work their way up in time. After working in both the public and private sector for a decade, Robert is a recent transplant to DC and landed in the US Senate at the beginning of 2019. While most professionals in this space strive to be specialists, Robert’s many life experiences led him to become a generalist. In addition to working on The Hill, he writes about professional development and uses his fashion knowledge to dress professionals for success.

Tell us about your transition to DC and what you’ve learned so far.

Well, I moved here in January 2017 at the tender age of 31 and must have been one of the oldest interns in the history of The Heritage Foundation. I’ve really enjoyed the energy of the city but as a forever ‘early to bed early to rise’ person, I still haven’t quite adapted to this Eastern time zone, much less the late-night lifestyle. The diversity of folks from across the country as well as around the world is probably the best part, not to mention there are unlimited things to see and do here. Can’t say I enjoy paying my rent though…

How is being a generalist an asset on The Hill?

My resume is an unusual one. I was appointed to sit on a Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for a city, a commercial assessor for a county and a securities regulator for the State of Indiana so I’ve seen government at every level. In addition, I’ve worked for sole proprietors, small and large LLCs, multi-national corporations and even owned my own business. My approach is more like a Renaissance man, try to be as generally good at as many things as possible and understand how various disciplines are interwoven. It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re always in the weeds. My overarching approach is to engage in what I believe are the five pillars of a strong community: faith, education, business/labor, non-profit and government. 

What is Capitol Hill Clothiers?

After owning a clothing store in Indiana, CHC was a hobby I started as a way to build a personal brand in DC and help other interns that were ‘balling on a budget’. While I don’t have much time for it other than the weekends, it has allowed me to stay close to the clothing industry while building meaningful relationships around the city. There are some things that unite people and putting a smile on someone’s face when I help them dress for their first interview, a big presentation or even a wedding is surreal. I find a lot of fulfillment in giving others the confidence to be successful in their endeavors, whatever they may be.

Overall, where do you see the clothing industry going?

Some believe that old retail is dying and being replaced by e-commerce, such was the same thought just before the dot com bubble. I think the future is much more of a hybrid. Humans are hyper-social creatures and to sell luxury items, they want to “see, smell and taste” things. Clothing is also the paradox where people’s actions rarely represent their proposed values. As the nation moves more caused and toward athleisure and tech fabrics, there is also a sustainability movement regarding fair trade, workers’ rights as well as air and water environmental protections. Only time will tell before we know where the industry is going as a whole.

Any books you are reading or recommend?

With the demands of the day job I don’t have as much time to pleasure read, however, there are some books I never get tired of and wish more folks in the policy work would consider and reform their approach. Many thinkers and academics are still looking at issues from an industrial revolution era which is ‘scale’ but they haven’t considered complexity which is really the forefront of problem solving in the 21st century. It’s why we won World Wars 1 and 2 but lost in Vietnam. Complexity > Scale

A New Kind of Science by Steven Wolfram tackles the randomness in physical systems and the limitation of mathematics. The Incerto series by Nassim Taleb is the greatest treatise on uncertainty, chance, volatility, risk, and decision-making. Lastly, Dynamics of Complex Systems and Making Things Work by Yaneer Bar-Yam have helped him solve the ebola crisis in Liberia and track the drivers of ethnic violence in various countries. His work is very important if we want to solve complex issues like housing and healthcare in America.

How Hoosiers want to improve D.C.’s Indiana Plaza, home of capital’s ‘ugliest’ statue

Posted by Indy Star on Feb 26, 2018

WASHINGTON – A host of Hoosiers — led by Vice President Pence — have come to the nation’s capital in the past year to make their mark in the corridors of power.

And now Hoosiers are hoping to take advantage of that influx to improve an actual corridor, home to what’s been dubbed D.C.’s “ugliest statue.”

The Indiana Society of Washington, a social and networking group for expatriate Hoosiers, is taking on a half-acre section of land on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol, in hopes of making it more worthy of the name it was given nearly three decades ago: Indiana Plaza

“It bears our name, and we want to be proud of it,” said Jan Powell, a longtime Indiana Society board member.

On Monday, the group is raising the first round of money for the improvement project in a tribute dinner to Pence and his wife, both backers of the society.

It’s one of the ways the group is taking advantage of the higher profile that comes with being the home state of the vice president.

“It does make a difference for sure,” said treasurer Dave Zook, who was also involved in the society when Dan Quayle was vice president.

More than 1,100 Hoosiers are part of the organization, a significant bump from a few years ago.Get the Hoosier Politics newsletter in your inbox.

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Members include those who have been in Washington for a while, as well as newcomers like Robert Ordway.

“The organization has been great on how to really plug people in,” said Ordway, who moved to Washington for the new opportunities he saw with the change of administration. “If you want to work on the Hill, or in the administration, or in lobbying, it’s about having friends here.”

Dozens of Hoosiers — or those who have worked in Indiana politics, businesses or for elected officials — are now working throughout the Trump administration.

Some in top jobs — including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma — are expected to attend Monday’s tribute to the Pences at the National Museum of Women and the Arts.

“There’s a real awareness of the extent to which the vice president has been bringing folks to Washington to serve in the administration,” Zook said. “And that tends to add to the profile and awareness of Indiana.”

When Ordway, who works for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, tells people he’s from Indiana, they immediately mention Pence.

The other common response he gets is: “Oh. You’re from the Midwest. You’re really nice.”

“There’s an element of pride of being from Indiana,” Ordway said. “We’re just more amicable, friendly. We can be partisan, but it’s just different than the East Coast. I think people really relish being around those cultural values.”

The Indiana Society, one of the oldest state societies in Washington, gives Hoosiers a chance to appreciate those values at the inaugural ball it holds every four years, at happy hours featuring suds from Indiana’s craft breweries, and at events celebrating the Indy 500 and the anniversary of Indiana become a state.

Indiana Avenue is one of the streets that borders Indiana Plaza in Washington, D.C.

Indiana Avenue is one of the streets that borders Indiana Plaza in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY)

The group also organized the ceremony — with Vice President Quayle cutting the ceremonial gold ribbon — when Indiana Plaza was dedicated in 1990.

The plaza was created during the revitalization of a decaying Pennsylvania Avenue, the thoroughfare that runs from the White House to the Capitol and is known as “America’s Main Street.”

The triangular open space was called “Indiana Plaza” because it’s located between Indiana Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.

While every state in the nation has a street in Washington named after it, they don’t all have a plaza.

“We have some sense of responsibility,” said Indiana Society president Stefan Bailey, an Indianapolis native. “It’s natural for us to be committed to its upkeep.”

The plaza may be best known for its monument to the temperance movement, a structure the Washington Post has said is “widely celebrated as Washington’s ugliest statue.” The Washington City Paper called it an “excellent Washington conversation piece too quaint to dispose of.”

The Temperance Fountain, located in Washington, D.C.'s Indiana Plaza, has been called the city's ugliest monument.

The Temperance Fountain, located in Washington, D.C.’s Indiana Plaza, has been called the city’s ugliest monument. (Photo: Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY)

The miniature Greek temple is one of 16 fountains donated to cities across the country in the 19th century by a wealthy California dentist who thought people would switch from beer to water if given a clean source.

(The Architect of the Capitol notes that while the fountain didn’t do much to decrease alcohol consumption in Washington, it did have the unintended impact of spurring the creation of fine arts commissions around the country to weed out “similar unwanted `gifts.’”)

Asked if the Indiana Society has any plans for the monument, Bailey judiciously responded: “That’s a decision for others.”

The site’s other main feature is 25-foot tall Civil War monument dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for Union veterans.

The Indiana Society is working with the National Park Service, which oversees the property, along with the city’s business improvement group on ways to make the area more inviting.

Indiana Plaza, a half-acre section of land halfway between the White House and the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Indiana Plaza, a half-acre section of land halfway between the White House and the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY)

“it’s not a place where people linger, sit down, have a cup of coffee,” Powell said. “It’s kind of a walk-through place.”

Initial plans include some cosmetic changes, such as tables and chairs, to spruce up the space and make it more vibrant.  While those changes could be made in time for the spring influx of tourists to Washington, the group is also exploring bigger ways to improve the plaza’s physical condition, as well as ways to tell Indiana’s story.

While visiting Hoosiers shouldn’t expect to see a racecar or basketball hoop on the plaza, the group hopes it will become a destination spot for Indiana tourists. It could also be as much of a point of pride as are the many national landmarks, museums, private and public buildings built with Indiana limestone that are throughout the nation’s capital, including around Indiana Plaza.

“I think we’re finally now in a position to make a long-term contribution to the plaza,” Bailey said, “and by extension, to D.C.”

Ordway earns Heritage Foundation fellowship

Reposted from NWI Times on Jan 14, 2017

VALPARAISO — The owner of a men’s clothing store has closed up shop and is heading to Washington hoping to make his mark on the world.

Robert Ordway, who owned Rusted Oak Gentlemen’s Boutique, was selected by the Washington Scholars Program for a fellowship at The Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

Ordway said he will be doing research and writing for The Daily Signal. He hopes to study energy policy.

“I think it’s time to take my skill sets to the next level,” he said.

Ordway has sold his home in Valparaiso, is moving to Washington and hopes to land a job in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

“I think the landscape of Washington will be changing in the next couple of months,” Ordway said.PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Stream TypeLIVELoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute

Ordway served as an intern for Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and state Rep. Ed Soliday. During those experiences he “fell in love with policy.”

“I don’t care for politics too much, but I do care about policy and solving problems,” he said.

Ordway previously worked for the Porter County assessor’s office and served on the Valparaiso Board of Zoning Appeals and with the Indiana secretary of state’s office.

He also held positions on the Indiana Senate Majority Campaign Committee, the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Indiana House Republican Caucus.

He said he is a member of the National Rifle Association, the NAACP, Young Leaders United and the Urban League Young Professionals of NWI.

He is a Lake Station native and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Valparaiso University.

Will frenzy of GOP convention follow Hurricane Isaac to NWI?

Post-Tribune, The (Merrillville, IN) (Published as Post-Tribune (IN)) – September 2, 2012

  • Author/Byline: Jerry Davich; jdavich@post-trib.com
  • Section: quickly
  • Page: 10

On this Sunday, it’s obvious that the rainy remnants of Hurricane Isaac have found their way to Northwest Indiana from Tampa, Fla., where the Republican National Convention was held last week.

But can the remnant hype, promises and enthusiasm from that convention also find their way to this region’s surging Republican Party?

I asked this very question to our region’s Republican delegates, alternates and guests who traveled by bus to Tampa. As you might guess, they returned here re-energized with Election Day just two months away.

“I believe that Northwest Indiana will benefit from the momentum created in Tampa because that momentum is fueled by principles that made this country great, and policies that can solve the deep economic problems that threaten our future,” Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas replied.

“It is a movement focused not on a personality or rhetoric, but on the spirit and resolve of the American people.”

Robert Ordway, executive director of the District 1 GOP under Chairman Chuck Williams, traveled with the delegates as a guest. Ordway said while there are several “safe seats” for incumbent Republicans and Democrats in this region, he expects a shakeup in county and state races, with more Republicans voted into public office.

“While 2008 was about personality and likability, region voters are now prepared to look at the facts regarding unemployment, national debt and the rising price of food and gas,” said Ordway, who also serves as campaign manager for state Sen. Ed Charbonneau.

“Americans have become wary of the negative campaigning and they just want to hear the facts, whether they are good or bad,” he noted. “The Obama campaign has spent no time talking about its record or accomplishments. Instead, it has focused on a strategy of divide and conquer by promoting class warfare and scare tactics on seniors.”

His comments echo several speakers at the convention, including 82-year-old actor-icon Clint Eastwood whose rambling, reckless 11-minute speech belied the tightly scripted program.

“Politicians are employees of ours,” he told the cheering crowd. “When somebody does not do the job, we got to let ’em go, OK? Just remember that.”

Northwest Indiana Republicans are hoping voters and supporters here remember the rising frenzy they watched during the four-day convention, including Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She did her best to persuade swing-state voters that her husband is not a privileged, out-of-touch robot.

“Who better to define Mitt Romney than his soulmate,” said Portage Mayor Jim Snyder, who returned from Tampa via airplane on Friday. “His sons and his wife have all spoke on his trustworthiness. Americans are tired of rhetoric and fancy speeches.”

Snyder probably didn’t need a plane to return home. He could have floated back here, considering how much he enjoyed the convention and its message.

“I’m privileged to have gone,” said Snyder, who describes himself as a “Ronald Reagan Republican.”

Regarding the message he gleaned from the event, “We have a serious financial situation to face in this country. The U.S. electorate is not stupid. They know this, too.”

Ordway said he grew up in Lake Station with a “conservative Democrat, union, working-class family.”

“While I didn’t have much growing up, my parents instilled the values — hard work, discipline and patience — that are needed to reach the American dream.”

He heard similar stories from several other guests at the convention, most of them women and minorities. He’s convinced the wellspring of enthusiasm that showered upon them in Tampa will also reach this region.

“In 2010, several region conservative Democrats voted Republican for the first time in their life,” he said.

He believes a similar trend will continue this year at ballot boxes from Malden to Lowell and from Lake County to Jasper County. Other GOP officials leaving Tampa for their home states and cities also echoed this renewed belief, thanks to the convention.

On a humorous note, I also received this tongue-in-cheek missive from Costas soon after the group of District 1 delegates arrived in Tampa.

“As a nutritionally concerned citizen of Porter County, I suggest you ask Mayor James Snyder about his decision regarding cereal choice for our group,” Costas quipped. “He was given the task of purchasing cereal for breakfast and returned with two boxes of Lucky Charms. This has caused quite a consternation among our delegation.”

Laughs aside, it will take more than lucky charms to rally and enthuse voters in this region, and I’m curious to see if the local Republican Party will indeed reap the wild wind from what took place last week in Tampa.

We won’t know for sure until we arrive in the eye of the ongoing political storm that’s sweeping the country, state by state. It will hit us all, collectively and finally, on Nov. 6, Election Day. Until then, all the promises and propaganda are, to me, just a bunch of hot air.

Speaking of hot air …

Will you be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week? Or will you be glued to its coverage via TV, Internet or radio?

What message should Democrats send to on-the-fence voters in rebuttal to the Republican National Convention?.

RTA foes, backers line up

Post-Tribune, The (Merrillville, IN) (Published as Post-Tribune (IN)) – October 30, 2009

  • Edition: All Editions
  • Section: News – Porter County
  • Page: 32

A new political action committee supporting a regional transportation district has emerged, squaring off with an organization that has been campaigning against it since late September.

With less than a week before the Nov 3 referendum, Citizens for Northwest Indiana wants to let the people know there’s another voice out there, said Robert Ordway, PAC chairman, who filed statement papers with the Porter County Voter Registration office Oct. 23.

“I’m about fair and balanced arguments,” Ordway said. “Basically the only voice in Valparaiso was ‘No RTA’ … all these signs. It’s a small group of people trying to be the voice of the people.”

State legislation called for a referendum on creating a four-county regional transportation district.

The Nov. 3 ballot asks voters whether they favor the “Northern Indiana Regional Transportation District.”

That entity, if approved, would have authority to levy up to a 0.25 percent income tax in Porter, Lake, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties proportionate to its population and capital projects.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, an organization to bring economic development projects in Lake and Porter counties, officially endorsed the transportation district earlier this month.

Some refer to the district as the RTA, or regional transportation authority.

Stop The RTA, the other political action group headed by County Commissioner Bob Harper, launched an online campaign through its Web site, www.stoptherta.com, and has been distributing yard signs urging voters to vote no.

Earlier this week, the Porter County Council also came out against the transportation district. Members approved a resolution 5-0 to oppose it and to urge voters to do the same at the polls.

New county income taxes has been one of the biggest arguments for the opposition.

Citizens for Northwest Indiana Treasurer Jeffrey Valles said “the taxes aren’t a guarantee.” “It has to be voted on (by the district). No one can unilaterally impose the tax.”

The regional district will be an “investment to better our future,” Ordway said.

“This is about jobs, period,” he said. “It’s a small cent to pay for a long-term investment for the region and to help us work together.”