From Somervell to the Swamp: Glen Rose’s Rollins continues work as presidential assistant
Brooke Leslie Rollins spent most of her childhood as a small-town girl in Glen Rose before taking on a career in the bustling, congested city of Austin.
Now, as many here in Glen Rose and even in Washington, D.C. would say, she’s kind of a big deal — one of President Trump’s advisors in what he often calls the Swamp. Rollins is an assistant to the president, with the title of acting director of the Domestic Policy Council.
The Glen Rose Reporter had been trying for some time to connect with Rollins, who also keeps extremely busy handling four children with her husband Mark. Last week, an advance call from a White House staffer in Washington confirmed that Rollins could do the interview by phone on Aug. 20.
“I have the highest privilege and honor of running the President’s domestic policy agenda,” Rollins stated in a follow-up email after the phone interview. “His vision for a greater America, where the American dream is available to every man, woman and child regardless of their hometown, their last name, which bathroom they use, or the color of their skin, is what we fight for every single day. What a joy!
“Whether it’s jobs, healthcare, education, immigration, energy, deregulation — really everything other than our foreign policy — I have the blessing of helping execute for America. Pretty cool stuff for the small town girl from Glen Rose!”
She added, “Working for the president is one of the greatest, most amazing, positive, joyful experiences of my life.”
Coincidentally, Rollins was seen in a couple of video clips during Tuesday night’s TV broadcast of the Republican National Convention.
Her comments during that broadcast spotlighted the significant number of outstanding women chosen to serve on President Trump’s advisory teams — and still find time for their loved ones at home.
“I have four children, Kellyanne Conway has four children, Ivanka has … I think between all the senior staff women we might have 75 kids. I’m not sure. We’ve lost count, but the importance of the work is never lost on any of us and truly it is those children that we are fighting for, and for their future,” Rollins also stated on that broadcast. “The number of dedicated, amazing, brilliant, relentless women that are dedicated to the country and to the president and to preserving the American dream is one of the greatest, if not the greatest thing I’ll ever be a part of.”
Rollins, a 1990 graduate of Glen Rose High School, moved with her family to Somervell County when she was 3 years old. Her mother, Country Woods Inn owner Helen Kerwin, and her father, Hugh Leslie, both still live in Glen Rose. Kerwin is a former Glen Rose mayor, and a former Somervell County Commissioner. Rollins’ sister Helen lives in Glen Rose, and sister Ann is a TCU professor who resides in Fort Worth. Rollins and her sisters all completed their school years in Glen Rose, and all three attended Texas A&M University on agriculture scholarships as a result of being involved in the local FFA chapter.
After graduating with honors from the University of Texas School of Law on another scholarship, Rollins began to work in the state capital involved in policy and public affairs before her career path led her to the nation’s capital.
It’s nothing new for Rollins to stay busy. As a student in Glen Rose, she was her class president, a member of the National Honor Society, president of the FFA chapter and head cheerleader.
The Rollins family — which includes four children, ages 10, 12, 14 and 15 — now has residences in Fort Worth and in Washington.
“We sort of are back and forth so much that I really feel like I am 100 percent Texan, but taking the best of Texas with me to the West Wing,” Rollins said. “I have huge Texas flags hanging in my office, and a gigantic, neon-lighted Texas Aggie sign hanging on the wall. I am not sure if all the New Yorkers in the West Wing are laughing WITH me or AT me, but either way, I sure am proud of my home state.”
She said that one of her fondest memories is of growing up in Glen Rose and having the same classmates starting with kindergarten and continuing through the 12th grade.
“The town made me who I am today. Mr. Rosenbush, our ag teacher, was one of most influential people in my life.” Rollins said. “Every day in the White House, my wonderful hometown of Glen Rose comes up.”
She added, “Growing up in Glen Rose I had the best childhood of anyone I know. Riding horses, showing goats, cheering at the Friday night football games, working in my mom’s flower shop on the downtown square — it was true America.
“I am so grateful to my amazing mom and all the wonderful people of Glen Rose — especially my teachers — that were part of such a fantastic community.”
Rollins previously was a member of President Trump’s Economic Policy Council during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Prior to that, she served for 15 years as president and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation based in Austin. There, she had a part in initiatives targeting criminal justice reform, energy-policy reform, fiscal reform and revival of the Tenth Amendment, among others.
Before that, Rollins was Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s first deputy general counsel and policy director.
Rollins said she feels inspired seeing President Trump “stand up for America again and again and again, against the Swamp, the establishment, the special interests, and the media.”
She noted that Trump has a good sense of humor, one of several traits that may not always be appreciated or even understood by some members of the news media.
“I love my boss,” Rollins said. “He is relentless and fearless, and obviously a fighter. But he is also kind, and respectful and so very supportive, especially of our working moms.”
Rollins said that as a youngster in Glen Rose, she never considered the thought that she could eventually be in such a position.
“When I left Glen Rose in 1990, with big hair (it WAS 1990) and big dreams, I didn’t know the path ahead,” she stated. “Did I expect to one day office in the West Wing and run the domestic agenda for arguably the most consequential, change making president of our (all) time? No — I couldn’t have imagined it.
“But all those years ago I did know that I wanted to spend my time helping people. Whether that was as a teacher, a pastor or working in public policy (where I eventually landed) — that was my goal. I am blessed beyond measure to get to do that, every day.”
Here are some of the other responses Rollins provided to the newspaper, in a question and answer format:
Q: In your current job, what is the simplest way to describe your duties and/or responsibilities?
A: “I run the president’s domestic policy agenda. So every day I am helping him fight for his vision for America. That’s everything from health care to immigration to education to jobs, to energy, anything and everything that is of importance from a domestic agenda, I and my team lead on.”
Q: What can you tell our readers about what it's like working with President Trump?
A: “Working for the president is one of the greatest, most amazing, positive, joyful experiences of my life. He is funny, and respectful and kind and so supportive especially of all the working moms in this White House. He has more women at the senior level on the senior staff, I believe than any other president before him.”
Q: Is the feel or atmosphere in Washington what you expected, or much different — and why?
A: “Obviously Washington, as the president best defines it, is the Swamp. But working for this president is nothing but joyful and such a blessing as we fight for the American dream and the American people every day.
“It’s tough. There’s no doubt the unmitigated assault on this president and his work for America is unlike any other president in the history of this country. But to see him again and again stand up to the Swamp and to never stop fighting for this country is such an inspiration.
“It’s hard to describe how proud I am of him and our team and everything that we are accomplishing as we fight for the soul of this country. The best way I can describe it is a spiritual battle for the very heart and soul America.”
Q: I read that you have been interested and active in criminal justice reform. Explain what that means to you, and why is it important?
A: “Criminal justice reform is one of the great policy opportunities of our time. America has 4 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated.
“I knew the system must be off. We are putting low-level, non-violent drug offenders in prison — at a huge cost to their families, the taxpayer, and the entire system. Let’s instead focus on rehabilitation and education — not on warehousing. I believe that is what scripture calls on us to do. It is also a proven way to reduce crime — as we have proven in Texas.”
Q: What was the biggest motivation for you in your career?
A: “I just want to help. Every man and woman and child has a real shot at the American Dream.”