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Public policy grad Nicholas Sauer is city’s youngest school board member


Nicholas Sauer is the youngest member of the board of education for District 220 in his hometown of Barrington, Ill. Photo: Jeffrey Haessler

Nicholas Sauer (BA ’05) was elected to the board of education for District 220 in his hometown of Barrington, Ill., in 2009. The board’s youngest member, he already is well respected and shares governance responsibility for a $121 million operating budget, 14 buildings, 1,165 staff members and 9,150 students. Sound daunting?

“It all comes down to working for the common good,” he says. “It’s been a great honor.”

Working for the common good is nothing new to Sauer, the 2011 Founders Day winner of the Ammi Hyde Award for Recent Graduate Achievement.

At DU, the public policy major was involved in the Pioneer Leadership Program, served as a senior senator for the Undergraduate Student Government and was president of both his fraternity — Theta Chi — and DU’s Interfraternal Council.

“When it comes to leadership, Nick is in a league of his own,” says Brian Elizardi (BA ’04, MA ’06), a fellow alum who is now a senior academic adviser at Tulane University.

Sauer credits the organizations and people he worked with at DU for bringing out and honing his leadership skills.

“That was a great takeaway from college,” he says.

After he graduated, more public policy beckoned, and Sauer spent time working on the gubernatorial campaign of former DU President Marc Holtzman. After Holtzman’s unsuccessful bid, Sauer moved to the center of the political universe: Washington, D.C. There, he served as a political appointee under George W. Bush, working in the Department of Commerce. He says the experience was edifying and somewhat surprising.

“The really fascinating thing for me is that Washington is not as partisan as people make it out to be,” he says. “It was wonderful to work with such a diverse group of people in that capacity.”

When Sauer moved back home to help with the family cabinet business and work on his master’s degree at Northwestern University, he knew he also wanted to give back to the community, despite the time commitment. And that’s where the school board came in.

“It’s a lot of work … a lot of late nights,” he says. “[But] I think I’ve always had that mindset and that belief system: To whom much is given, much is expected.”


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