When Steve Frick applied for a job at the Mackinac Center back in 2000, his resume included the quote often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Any man under 30 who is not a liberal has no heart, and any man over 30 who is not a conservative has no brains.”
Not the typical thing you would see on a job application for someone who works in computer systems and internet coding. “I think that’s what got me in the door for the interview,” Frick says.
It was a winding road for him to end up at Michigan’s premier free-market think tank. He grew up in central Michigan in a family with deep roots in Mt. Pleasant and Beal City. While attending Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Frick got interested in technology.
“I thought it was really cool what you could make computers do,” he said. A teacher got him access to the computers at Central Michigan University. As a teenager, he made his first program: a blackjack algorithm.
Frick earned a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science, and a master’s in computer science, both at CMU. After graduation, he worked for a pipeline services company. He then headed out to Washington, D.C., where he worked for two private companies on government contracts before coming home and eventually working for the state of Michigan.
In 2000, a job opening at the Mackinac Center piqued his interest. The Mackinac Center has several different websites and dozens of databases, with custom software running it all. Hundreds of thousands of people visit them every month. He’s responsible for the Center’s websites, software development, computer systems and databases. In sum, his job is to make sure that all the work from our policy experts is online and easy for people to find and read.
Frick is most proud of his work on Michigan Votes website, which describes — in plain English — every bill lawmakers introduce and every vote they make. It was launched by Senior Legislative Analyst Jack McHugh shortly after Frick arrived. Today, Frick helps keep it running and adds new features to it. There have been nearly 30,000 votes written and described in the last 20-plus years.
He is busy outside of work as well. He and his first wife adopted six children. He is now remarried, and his wife, Patricia, had previously adopted three sons of her own. So, between them, they have nine children. The youngest is finishing up high school while the oldest, a daughter, is married to a soldier in the U.S. Army. One son served as a U.S. Marine.
“I’ve had a lot of different work experience — for private companies, the state government, federal contracts and now the Mackinac Center,” Frick said. “I got to see how big and bureaucratic the government really is. It’s just great to work with people who respect each other and are motivated to produce research and data tools that advance liberty.”