I had a chance to catch up with Governor Bevin’s new press secretary, Owensboro native Woody Maglinger, to see how his first few months on the job were treating him, and to learn a bit more about the man who is the voice of the Bevin administration.
Owensboro Living: For those who may not know you, tell us a bit about your background. Did you grow up in Owensboro?
Woody Maglinger: I was born (Aug. 2, 1976) and raised in Owensboro — a fifth generation Owensboroan…
I graduated from Owensboro High School (1994), and then earned my B.A. in history from the University of Kentucky (1999) and my M.A. in history from Western Kentucky University (2004). I originally had plans to be a college history professor.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I returned to Owensboro and worked as a real estate agent for my family’s business — Maglinger Realtors (1999 – 2000) — while I commuted to Bowling Green for graduate school. I was hired by Green River Area Development District (GRADD), a regional planning agency, in February 2001. At GRADD, I served as GIS/GPS mapping technician (February 2001 – June 2002), public administration specialist (July 2002 – June 2007), and communications director (July 2007 – April 2016). I also taught college history courses at Kentucky Wesleyan College (2006) and Western Kentucky University-Owensboro (2007).
OL: Tell us about your family and what the journey from here to Frankfort has been like for them.
WM: I have been married to my wife Leigh Ann (Sansom) since April 2, 2005. We have two children — Hope (age 8) and Will (age 5).
I am very blessed to have such a supportive and flexible family, who was willing to embrace the unknown and join me on this exciting adventure. After living in a small apartment near the Capitol for our first six months here, we have now settled into a house on the east side of Frankfort.
OL: What positions did you hold before working in the governor’s office?
WM: I served as communications director for Secretary Hal Heiner and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet from April – December 2016. During that time, I was fortunate to assist with the launch of groundbreaking initiatives like the Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship Program (enabling high school students to earn college credit at no cost) and the $100 million Work Ready Skills Initiative (completely transforming our career/technical education system to develop a more well-prepared workforce).
In December 2016, I accepted an appointment as press secretary for Kentucky’s 62nd governor, Matt Bevin.
OL: What does your new position with the governor entail?
WM: I have the honor of serving as a spokesperson for Governor Bevin — articulating our Administration’s vision and sharing details about key issues and initiatives. I prepare news releases and media advisories, and I field inquiries from local, state, national and international media outlets, as well as from the general public.
I also work closely with our communications director and digital/social media team to find the most effective ways to keep in touch with the 4.4 million citizens of the Commonwealth.
OL: What is your favorite thing about being the press secretary?
WM: It is exciting to be serving at such a historic time in Frankfort. Our Administration has already taken unprecedented steps to shore up Kentucky’s financial foundation, to protect our most vulnerable, to give all students an opportunity for success, and to cut red tape to unleash record economic growth.
I enjoy having a bird’s-eye view of state government — seeing how policy decisions across numerous agencies work together to benefit Kentuckians.
OL: How does your position impact the day-to-day lives of Kentuckians?
WM: I strive to convey Gov. Bevin’s vision for the Commonwealth and to explain the Administration’s actions in an easily understandable manner to our citizens. Living outside of the “Golden Triangle” (Louisville, Lexington, Northern Kentucky) for most of my life, I feel a strong commitment to ensuring that all Kentuckians are connected to their state government — whether they live in Paducah, Pikeville or Philpot.
OL: Okay, enough with the serious questions! Tell us what you like to do for fun, when you’re not on the job.
WM: I enjoy just about anything outdoors — playing sports, hiking, kayaking, photography, etc. I love teaching children, whether it’s seeking to instill Sunday school students with a passion for Jesus or helping to coach my kids’ baseball and soccer teams. Local history is also a passion of mine — discovering the forgotten stories that make each Kentucky community unique.
OL: One final question, since you’re a history buff and have the honor of serving our lovely Commonwealth, what is your favorite thing about Kentucky?
WM: My favorite things about the state of Kentucky are: 1) the unique beauty of our natural landscape and 2) the distinctive spirit of our people.
I agree with Daniel Boone’s assessment that, “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.” From mighty western waterways to rolling fields of bluegrass to the rugged Cumberland Plateau, the Commonwealth offers an amazing array of diverse places to explore.
I also love the pioneering spirit that still abides within our citizens. Just like Boone and his fellow explorers saw the formidable Appalachian Mountains as simply an obstacle to overcome, Kentuckians have a stubborn resiliency that enables us to rise to meet big challenges.