5 Minutes With. . . Capri S. Cafaro


Former Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro is now taking on her new role as Executive in Residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs in D.C. During her time as Ohio Senator, Capri led a revolution in economic development, health care and victim’s rights. She continues to make change through her teaching position at American University and appearances on TV and radio stations like Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CBC, and France 24. She’s also contributed to the Washington Examiner and Huffington Post Blog.

Cafaro has received several awards including ‘Legislator of the Year’ from the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, The Ohio Speech and Hearing Association, The Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, The Ohio Am Vets, the Ohio Soy/Corn/Wheat Association and the Ohio Public Children Services Association. She also served as the ranking member of the Senate Medicaid Committee, the Joint Committee on Medicaid Oversight and the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee. Most recently, Capri became the newest ambassador for Karen Millen, a women’s clothing line made for the professional fashionista.

What compelled you to go into politics?

I grew up in the heart of the Midwest Rust Belt. Early on I recognized government and policy as, at least in my view, helping people in communities like mine that had been ignored and devastated by industrial decline. I loved history and followed current events as a kid and was also inspired by my maternal grandfather who was a WWII veteran and a small businessman. His later diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and my family’s subsequent role as caregivers led me to pursue a path in health and aging policy.  

As a woman in politics – especially in a traditionally male-dominated field – was there ever a time when you felt like giving up? If so, how did you persevere?

Giving up was never an option to me. Sure, I experienced a number of setbacks and encountered my fair share of critics, but I knew such challenges were part of the necessary evil of politics that must be endured have the honor to actually serve.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time in the Ohio Senate?

Progress is possible when you find common ground and compromise with those who may not share your views.  

You are Karen Millen’s newest ambassador. What do you like most about Karen Millen’s brand?

I have been wearing Karen Millen for years. Their styles are versatile, professional and feminine. I never feel like I need to compromise style in my work wardrobe, whether it was on the floor of the Ohio Senate or on TV. I also love their more laid-back, weekend looks that are polished and put together. KM is a brand that empowers women to embrace their strength and unique style. Who can’t get behind that?

In your busy schedule, how do you find time for yourself?

I enjoy baking, cooking, going to concerts and trying new workouts. Nothing makes me happier than a full house of family and friend around the table eating a home cooked meal.  I would love to prioritize more time for things like museums, reading for fun and volunteering as well. I think I’m no different than most women who are always searching for more time in the day for all of our work, family and personal interests.  The key to “me time” is learning how to say no sometimes and placing value on that “me time” to move it to the top of your to-do list (or have it on there at all). Admittedly, I struggle with saying no, but I am getting better at it.

What advice do you have for women who want to become entrepreneurs?

Do your due diligence before jumping into starting a business. Research the market landscape, understand your competitors, and identify ways to raise the appropriate funds to assemble the best team. Even seek out a mentor. It is difficult to turn a good idea into a business endeavor. It takes courage, creativity, skill and organization. It is great to see more women in the entrepreneurial space. Maybe I will one day join their ranks and finally open up that bakery I have always wanted!