Otterbein Alum Defers Oxford to Make an Impact with Black Caucus in Ohio

Posted Nov 16, 2020

An airport lockdown connected to the global pandemic changed the trajectory of Tony Bishop’s ’15, MSAH’18 career.  

“I was visiting my girlfriend in Algeria when the entire airport shutdown because of the pandemic. I was stranded in another country for a month,” Bishop said. “I thought about what the world ahead was going to look like.” 

Tony Bishop’s ’15, MSAH’18
Tony Bishop’s ’15, MSAH’18

While stranded in Africa, Bishop started to look for job openings back in the United States. He had already worked for several government agencies including the Ohio Statehouse as well as agencies in Washington, D.C., and Europe. It was these connections that helped secure his appointment as the executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.  

“I reached out to the president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Stephanie Howse, someone I had met during my time working in the Ohio state legislature. I had applied to a different, lower-ranking position but ended up being elevated to executive director,” he said. It’s a role he believes is important at this moment of racial inequality and unrest. 

Bishop started his new position with the Black Caucus in early August and said he will focus on fundraising, policy agenda setting for the next legislative cycle, and community outreach to People of Color (POC) to increase inclusivity of government. He is also excited to be teaching a new class of interns to help those students find their calling — something that Bishop said Otterbein did for him. 

“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. 

Bishop, who earned two Otterbein degrees, a bachelor’s in communication and a master’s in allied health, never intended to study political science or work in politics. But he applied his liberal arts background from Otterbein to adapt and apply his critical thinking skills to places outside of his major.  

Tony and Sherrod
Sen. Sherrod Brown (right) talks with Tony Bishop’s ’15, MSAH’18 in Washington D.C.

While this opportunity is impressive, Bishop had to make an important decision to defer the other prestigious opportunity lined up before the pandemic hit. U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) nominated Bishop for the Foreign Service Program at the University of Oxford, England. The exclusive program only accepts one person from each of the nominating countries. Bishop was accepted into the program but decided to defer his offer in order to take the position with the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. 

“It all came down to where I needed to be,” he said. “With the current state of race relations, civil unrest and injustice in the United States, I knew I had to be inside a Black organization and lead. Oxford will be fine without me for now, but the Caucus needed me, and I needed them.” 

Bishop believes that he could not have found the education he received at Otterbein at another institution. His knows the work ahead of him will be challenging, but he is confident he can overcome any obstacles thanks to the training he received at Otterbein. 

“Otterbein teaches you how to think — not what to think. What I learned as a Cardinal meant I could jump into any career and be prepared from the beginning to make an impact.”