Schar School Alum Elected to New Hampshire Legislature

Mark King, standing middle back row, with his ODKM cohorts. (Photo credit: Mark King)

By Jordan Beauregard

Mark King received a Master’s degree from George Mason University’s Organizational Development and Knowledge Management (ODKM) program in 2015, but he’s not only a proud Mason alumnus. He’s also a newly elected member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

The Path to Mason

“I had nearly been killed in a motorcycle accident,” King said. “If someone driving by had not had a funny feeling about the large ‘garbage bag’ they saw at the side of the road and turned around, I could have bled out. I feel and felt a need to give back. A fan of Joseph Campbell [renowned writer], I followed his credo: ‘Follow your bliss…if you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.’”

Giving back has been a theme of King’s life for a long time. After the accident, King began to notice the importance of giving back to people more and more.

“My partner would come home from working in the hospice field and tell me about her day, and I could hear how she touched lives. I just earned money. It caused me to think, ‘Where do I fit?’ ‘How can I give back?’”

That’s when King decided to work at the library, which he calls his ‘favorite place.’ He sees libraries as the most democratic institutions.

“Knowledge is there for the taking, as is entertainment: Free. It was a union job and I’m from a union family. I got involved as soon as I was able. I was elected Steward after my first year.”

However, in order to move up in the library field, King understood that he had to receive his Bachelor’s degree. He enrolled at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he received a degree in Labor Studies in 2012.

For King, the doors that Joseph Campbell talked about continued to open when he learned about the ODKM Masters program at Mason. A friend of his enrolled in the program, which was then a joint partnership between the National Labor College and George Mason University.

He enrolled in Mason’s ODKM program Labor Cohort 3 and graduated in 2015.

Life in Politics

King became involved in politics in 2008, volunteering for campaigns. One day, a Democratic activist, who he worked for at one point, approached him with an opportunity to run for office. He passed on the offer but remained highly involved in electoral politics, serving on Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire State Steering Committee. He was inspired, not only by working on his campaign, but by Sanders’ plea for our fellow citizens to run for local office.

“I was inspired to run for state legislature, and I am still inspired. As I filed my Declaration of Candidacy, I was choosing to be part of the solution. As a state legislator, I am involved at the nuts and bolts level. I’ve found a way to better give back.”

King was sworn in to the New Hampshire House of Representatives as the representative for Nashua District’s Ward 6. He currently sits on the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee, which considers all matters concerning conservation, improvement and preservation of fish, game and non-game species and marine resources within the state. King is also co-sponsoring a bill on re-districting in New Hampshire.

“Working with people, for people, is who I am and where I belong.”

Moving Forward

In addition to being a newly elected state representative, he still works as a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library and as the DIstrict Coordinator for the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). He aims to advocate for issues regarding commuter rails, education, campaign finance, family medical leave and collective bargaining rights. According to him, he doesn’t rule out potentially running for higher office in the future.

“New Hampshire has an Executive Council, which approves state contracts valued over $10,000 and acts a check on the Governor’s power. After learning to be an effective state representative, and, should my constituents stand by me for two more terms, I’d be interested in running for District 5’s Executive Council seat.”

As he continues to follow his bliss, and the doors to future opportunities open, King will always remember the role that George Mason’s ODKM program played in his life.

“George Mason University has been instrumental in my formation as a conscious person in a very complex system, our political world. My GMU education has facilitated my reflective nature giving me a standpoint to act with integrity and confidence. The ODKM program at GMU has touched my life in a marvelous way.”

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