Where are they now: Richie Frohlichstein
Profession: Lawyer - Location: Yale University - Class of 2007
Returning home from Georgetown University for winter break after his first semester of freshman year, Richie Frohlichstein, 2007 KHS graduate, decided to stop by world history teacher Tim Harig’s annual Boxing Day party. There he met KHS alumnus, Lori White whose sister, Meredith White, was working at the Iowa presidential caucus. Meredith invited Richie to volunteer with her and he accepted. Richie, along with some KHS seniors, knocked on doors in Iowa for a few days canvassing for senator Obama. This was when Richie realized he wanted to be part of a campaign.
“I figured [that] just because I’m 19 doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference,” Richie said. “When an exciting opportunity comes along and you get butterflies in your stomach [and have] the chance to make a difference, do it. I think what stops us isn’t the lack of opportunity, it’s the lack of willingness to set aside previous plans. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. If you’re doing something you believe in, it’s going to work out.”
In high school, Richie volunteered for local campaigns as a doorknocker. According to Johnny Frohlichstein, 2009 KHS graduate and Richie’s brother, Richie was well-liked in high school and was very politically involved. Harig described Richie as a student that was interested in more than earning a grade and was passionate about learning. Throughout high school, Richie was a member of TKC, Mock Trial and Youth in Government. Junior year, he was part of the Page Program for the state Senate in which high schoolers work as legislative assistants.
“[Richie] is very good at talking to people and getting what he wants from them,” Johnny said. “He never has the intention of trying to get something out of people, he’s just very naturally well-liked and good at communicating his experiences in a way that makes them sound impressive and interesting. He’s done a lot of cool things and he’s very effective in communicating [them].”
After realizing his interest in politics, Richie was hired to work for governor Jay Nixon’s campaign. So Richie took a leave of absence from college to work for the Nixon campaign. A month in, Nixon was doing well in Missouri and the opportunity arose for Richie to go work as a campaign staffer for the Obama campaign in North Carolina.
“It felt like 2008 and the Obama campaign was this really exciting moment and this really exciting opportunity for young people to make it clear that we have a role to play in the direction our country is going,” Richie said. “It never felt like I was leaving college because I knew I would finish college. It was such an exciting opportunity to get involved in community organizing in such a tangible way.”
Richie went to work as an Field Organizer in North Carolina where he worked to help turn out additional voters and excite the community about senator Obama. Returning to college, he stayed involved with the community in DC and politics. Later, Richie had the opportunity to intern in the White House as a part of the legislative affairs office. He worked on projects dealing with how the White House interacts with Capitol Hill. While Johnny’s career, a management consultant, is not involved in politics, he was able to come visit Richie at the White House a few times. Johnny said he got an Oval Office tour, went to the White House World Series Celebration in 2011 and went to the 4th of July White House party. Through the internship, Richie and Johnny were able to meet President Obama.
“I think it’s an honor to meet any president and President Obama, for me, was such an example of how there really are people in public service who are trying to make a positive difference for the community and the country,” Richie said. “It’s exciting to get to meet somebody like that. He’s a tremendous role model for young people who want to be involved in community service.”
After college, Richie returned to the Obama re-elect campaign and worked in the Chicago headquarters. Richie was on a team to figure out how to interact with donors. Richie returned to Washington DC after President Obama was re-elected. He worked first in the U.S. small business administration, the agency assigned to making sure small businesses have the support they need to thrive from the government. Then Richie worked as a legal assistant in the office of the White House council for a year and a half. His job was to make sure that the president has legal advice on everything that comes before him.
Richie went to Yale University in 2015 and will graduate this May with a law degree. While he is still unsure of what type of law he will pursue, he is thinking about returning to working in a local government setting.
“I still feel a really strong tie to Kirkwood and my home, and so one of the things I’m thinking about is a way I can come back and get involved in the local community,” Richie said. “I think the really strong community values of helping each other out and being proud of where you’re from is an important thing to carry along.”