Paul Gessing "took a circuitous route to his role as President of New Mexico’s free market think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation. Having not grown up with many libertarian influences in his life, he was very active in the environmental movement in college and considered himself to be “liberal.” In fact, he considers his greatest extracurricular accomplishment the organizing of an Earth Day celebration at which Jerry Brown, former governor of California, spoke.
"After college, Gessing moved to Washington where he thought he wanted to work for a “liberal,” Congressman. He did stints as an intern with Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and briefly worked for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).
"Through reading books that included both Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and John Lee Anderson’s biography of Che Guevara and after hours of discussions with a friend and former Ron Paul staffer, Gessing came to the conclusion that while the left is often very good at critiquing political issues, its prescription is all too often the same: more government.
"Shortly after reaching those conclusions, he took an entry-level job with the free market-oriented National Taxpayers Union and moved up the ladder until he became the organization’s top lobbyist. After nearly six years of working at NTU and seeing nowhere to advance internally (yet wanting to remain within the free-market movement), Gessing took the top job at the Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico) in February of 2006."