20 under 40: Heather O’Loughlin of Montana Budget & Policy Center driven by love for Montanans

Helena Independent Record, August 2, 2015

A rich background of life in the law-making Mecca of Washington D.C., family experiences and an earnest dedication to the fine people in her home-state makes Heather O’Loughlin extremely effective with the Montana Budget & Policy Center (MPBC).

O’Loughlin, co-director of MPBC, is a humble 34-year-old who credits the impeccable staff she works alongside of for playing a role in communicating the economic impacts of policies. This was particularly important with the recent expansion of healthcare coverage in Montana.

“It’s amazing to see the work gone into this – it’s years of dedication,” she said. “I’m blessed to have been part of that dialogue. We are talking about real lives and access to health care coverage that they have never been able to in the past.”

O’Loughlin and her younger brother were raised in Great Falls by their single father. Every family experiences different challenges, she said, and in her home education is highly regarded.

“I really benefited from a great public school system,” she said. “Education is critical and a valuable investment in the next generation.”

After earning a law degree from the University of Montana, O’Loughlin served as legislative director and counsel for Sen. Max Baucus, managing the senator’s team. It’s during that time she found a love for diving deep into public policy and its effect on low-income families. That, along with the birth of her daughter, prompted the strong urge to return to the Treasure State. A position with MBPC was just the ticket.

“It was the perfect opportunity to work in public policy on issues important to low-income families in Montana and utilizing my contacts and experiences made in D.C.,” O’Loughlin said. “It’s an honor to do work that really effects the greater public and society as a whole. I really feel lucky to be part of a group of smart dedicated individuals who care about our state.”

MBPC, a nonprofit organization, was created in 2008 to provide in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The core focus is publishing credible, timely and easy-to-understand reports impacting Montanans with low-to-moderate incomes to inform the media and broader public. It strives to foster an economically vibrant future for all that live here with a fair opportunity to work, learn, and improves their lives.

The agency works closely with 50 allied organizations to coordinate the Partnership for Montana’s Future, which shares a common belief that Montana’s future depends on investments in education, infrastructure and safe and healthy communities.

O’Loughlin loves her job and is always eager to discuss it.

“It’s exciting. We a good last legislative session, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with lawmakers,” she said. “It feels good moving forward.”

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