Devoted to the future of the country, Margaret Jean McKee spent nearly five decades in the political arena. Her first real taste of the field came while she was in college, when her uncle volunteered her to work for Prescott Bush’s Senate campaign in Connecticut. The feeling of sitting in his headquarters with her fellow staffers was phenomenal; she felt like she was really making a difference, and knew it was what she was meant to be doing.
Upon graduating Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts in 1951, Ms. McKee immediately joined the Business and Professional Division of the New York Finance Committee of the Eisenhower for President Campaign as a staff assistant. She stayed there for a year before becoming a staff assistant at the New York Republican State Committee, where she prepared for the annual fundraising dinner and screened appointments to the new Eisenhower Administration. Ms. McKee worked hard, and quickly garnered a reputation for her passion and tenacity. This propelled her to advance to positions like executive director and only full-time staff member of New Yorkers for Nixon and its successor, Independent Citizens for Nixon and Lodge, Kings County co-chairman of the Eisenhower Reelection Campaign, member of the Rockefeller reelection campaign, and director of scheduling for Governor Rockefeller. Additionally, she was appointed by Governor Rockefeller as a member of the New York State Bingo Control Commission. Following this, Ms. McKee served as the deputy campaign manager for Senator Jacob K. Javits, the director of scheduling in New York for the 1972 presidential reelection campaign, the deputy campaign manager for Perry Duryea’s campaign for New York governor, the director of scheduling for Charles Goodell’s Senate campaign, and the director of strategy and planning for the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign in Connecticut. In total, she worked on a total of 18 political campaigns, 16 of them in New York, as a volunteer or staff member.
Outside of her time on the campaign trail, Ms. McKee was active in a variety of other roles. Her efforts earned her five presidential appointments, which was unique because they came from both Republican and Democratic presidents. She first caught the attention of President Ford, who named her deputy administrator of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration in 1976. She succeeded the administrator when he resigned. Next, President Carter offered Ms. McKee the position of commissioner of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy with oversight on the United States Information Agency, and President Reagan offered her a three-year partial term as a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). Ms. McKee then served a five-year term as the chairman of the FLRA under President George H.W. Bush. Her final appointment was member of the National Partnership Council under President Clinton. Over the years, Ms. McKee also spent time as a researcher for Stricker & Henning Research Associates, Inc., an assistant to political columnist Raymond Moley, the director of government relations for General Mills Restaurant Group, Inc., an affiliate of the Colonial Penn Insurance Company, a treasurer and partner of Consensus, Inc., and the executive director for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, among many more. Her final position before retiring in 1998 was chairman of the advisory board of Workplace Solutions.
Now, Ms. McKee enjoys pursuing her interest in history and genealogy. Her family has lived in the same house on a farm in Cheshire, Connecticut, since 1733, and she gives tours of the property to nonprofits like The Daughters of the American Revolution. Additionally, she is a member of organizations like the Connecticut Olmsted Heritage Alliance, the New England Historical Genealogical Society, the New York Genealogical and Historical Society, the Connecticut Genealogical Society, and the National Society of Colonial Dames in New York State.
As a testament to her success, Ms. McKee earned an Outstanding Olmsted Preservation Award, an Outstanding Alumna Award from the Packer Collegiate Institute, a Heritage Award from The Daughters of the American Revolution, and a Herbert Brownell Award from the New York State Young Republicans. Her achievements were highlighted in numerous editions of Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Politics, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women.