Alumnus Tony Bishop Talks Sports and Social Change with Students

Posted Nov 22, 2023

Tony Bishop III ’15 MSAH ’18 never misses a chance to come back to campus to visit the people who helped him become a leader and talk to the next generation of leaders. And current students can learn a thing or two from Bishop, whose path to his current job has been more of a zigzag than a straight line.

In November, Bishop was invited to speak to the students of Senior Instructor Dan Steinberg’s Freshman Year Experience class, Sports Communication and Social Change. They had already heard from a former NFL player, an NHL player, and Otterbein’s first female football player. Now they welcomed the advisor to the White House Office of the National Cyber Director.

When he first came to Otterbein, his plan was to play football, but an injury stalled his career, Bishop told the class. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication, he coached high school football, then came back to Otterbein to earn his master’s degree in allied health – exercise science, hoping to become a strength coach.

In one of his classes, a lobbyist for a private company spoke, and Bishop realized he wanted to do that kind of work, but in the public sector. His passion for public policy turned into jobs as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives and as a fellow with then-Chairman Hakeem Jeffries in the Congressional Black Caucus for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

With the Emerging Leaders delegation for the Congressional Black Caucus, Bishop traveled to Japan to establish bridges of diplomacy. Later, he was stationed in Brussels, Belgium, with the U.S. Liaison Office for the European Parliament for seven months. He then served as the executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

Now working in the White House, Bishop shared his passion for democracy with the students. “Whether you believe it or not, you are the most important piece of society – a citizen,” he said. “You have all the power in your hands. When you vote or don’t vote, there are repercussions. Bills about issues you care about pass or don’t pass based on your vote.”

“Most importantly you are the driver of what you want; you need to hold your elected officials to account. You need to say, ‘I want more financial aid, I want the Pell Grant expanded,’” he said.

As for career advice, Bishop — who once wanted a career in football, then as a strength coach — said networking and finding your passion are important, and that Otterbein helped him with both.

“What’s truly unique and special about Otterbein is how you come to campus with one passion in mind and then through the guidance of professors, mentors and the entire community, you begin to discover another passion and then another. Ultimately through these extraordinary relationships that push you forward, you discover what it is you really want to pursue as a career,” he said.