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STLCC Graduate Stays Ahead of Missouri Politics

March 27, 2013

Dusty Schnieders  
STLCC graduate Dusty Schnieders now is the chief of staff
for Missouri Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard.

A bit of advice imparted upon baseball players at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park by their former coach has served Dusty Schnieders well in the fast-paced arena of state politics.

“Coach (Mason) Horne always told us, ’If you are on time, you are late,’” Schnieders recalled. “That has always stuck with me. You have to stay ahead of the game. I am never late for anything.”

Schnieders, 27, currently serves as the chief of staff for Missouri Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard (R-Dist. 32), and now finds himself in the thick of decision making in Jefferson City.

Schnieders, who earned an associate degree in general transfer studies and played baseball at Forest Park for two years, knew where his career path would wind as a student at Helias High School in Jefferson City.

“I fell in love with political science in high school, and also took all the history classes I could,” he said.

CApitol Ideas

Following internships with former Mo. Gov. Matt Blunt (2008) and then-U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (2009) in Washington, D.C., Schnieders was hooked on politics. He worked on Roy Blunt’s successful U.S. Senate campaign, and served as a constituent caseworker and later as a field representative for the Blunt team. He joined Richard’s staff in September 2012.

“I have been thrown into the fire of everything I am now doing,” Schnieders said. “I love being more of the ‘behind the scenes’ person than being out in front.  The man who held my position previously told me I would have to be an inch thick and a mile long on all the bills. You have to know about every bill, but you can’t know everything about them.“

Richard noted that his chief of staff brings a lot to the table in this high-stakes environment.

“Dusty is an invaluable member of my leadership team,” Richard said. “His background and education make him a perfect fit for his role in the Senate. Dusty is smart, politically savvy and energetic. He keeps us all on track.”

Schnieders said one of the keys to success in his position is flexibility.

“Anything and everything changes,” he said. “We will have a plan and it will change, and you just go with it. Every day is different. But I find it extremely fun and exciting.”

Change Is the Norm

Flexibility was the key to Schnieders completing his college education. An all-state player for two-time state champion Helias, Schnieders originally earned a baseball scholarship to Missouri Baptist University. An off-field injury forced Schnieders to reassess his options, and eventually earned a scholarship to STLCC after working out for the Forest Park coaching staff. Schnieders played shortstop for the Highlander squad that qualified for the 2006 NJCAA Division II Tournament.

After completing his degree, Schnieders received a scholarship to Lincoln University, where he finished his political science degree in 2009.

“I never really had a normal college life, hanging out with friends and going to spring break,” he said. “There are parts I don’t miss, like waking up at 5 a.m. for practice, but I’d never take any of it back. I still keep up with my friends from Forest Park. I also didn’t have a huge college debt to repay because of the scholarships. After the fact you really appreciate that. But on a nice spring day when it’s warm, there are times I wish I were on the baseball diamond.”

Right now, however, Schnieders finds himself in the middle of more than 1,350 bills filed for the current Missouri legislative session. Challenging for sure, but there is no place he would rather be.