Skilled in writing thanks to her parents, who were both writers, Carol Gene Dawson was also exposed to politics at an early age, which caught her fascination. In 1959, after earning a Bachelor of Arts from Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, she began her career as a staff assistant to Sen. Kenneth B. Keating in Washington, D.C. That same year, she was also involved with Americans for Constitutional Action as an executive assistant and the Youth for Nixon Lodge as an executive secretary. Becoming a legislative assistant to Rep. Donald C. Bruce in 1961, she later served as the deputy director for public information for the Goldwater for President Campaign and the Republican National Committee from 1963 to 1964.
In 1965, Ms. Dawson joined the New Guard Magazine as an associate editor, rising to editor before she left in 1966 to become the director of information at the American Conservative Union. What followed this was an appointment as a publication and news analyst in the White House beginning in 1969, which she cites as a major highlight of her career. From 1971 to 1980, she lived and worked in Easton, Maryland, where she worked as a staff reporter for the Star Democrat, a freelance writer, and a real estate salesperson for Latham Realtors.
Ms. Dawson returned to her work in politics in 1980 as the senior staff assistant for presidential transition in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management before attaining the position of deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy from 1981 to 1982 and deputy special assistant to the secretary from 1982 to 1984. She was then nominated by former President Ronald Reagan to be the commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, where she served for 10 years. During this time, she began studies toward a Master of Arts in international transactions at George Mason University, which she completed in 1994.
That same year, Ms. Dawson become involved with the International Trade Council where she was a member of the national policy forum and the council of free individuals in a free society until 1997. From 1996 to 2002, she served as chair of the Republican Committee of Lancaster County. She also held a position on the board of directors of the National Conservative Campaign Fund in 1999, chaired the 99th Legislative District Republican Committee in 2000 and was a member of the Virginia Republican State Central Committee in 2001. In 2004, Ms. Dawson became a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Horse Council and, most recently, served as the commissioner for the Virginia Racing Commission from 2012 to 2016.
Attributing much of her success to believing in her work, taking advantage of opportunities, and her faith, Ms. Dawson is incredibly proud to have been in attendance at a number of important Republican National Conventions. The first she attended was in 1960, where she met the former governor of New Jersey, Charles Edison, a descendant of inventor Thomas Edison. She also attended the 1964 convention where Barry Goldwater was nominated, and the 1980 convention. For her excellence, she received the Award of Merit from the Young Americas Foundation in 1970.