Katie Britt speaks at a podium in the McConnell Center.
Alabama Sen. Katie Britt spoke at UofL on April 2 as part of the McConnell Center's Distinguished Speaker Series. UofL photo.

Sen. Katie Britt spoke about character growth and relationship building during a talk on April 2 at the University of Louisville.

Britt was the 66th world figure to come to the McConnell Center as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. Since 1993, the series has hosted prominent guests including U.S. presidents, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and congressional and international leaders.

Throughout the one-hour program held at Chao Auditorium and streamed live, Britt emphasized the importance of respect and trust, despite party lines. Upon her introduction to the U.S. Senate, Britt became friends with Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. Britt expressed that they could collaborate on matters crucial to the public despite any differences.

“We’ve got to have a lot of tough conversations in this county and if ever we want those tough conversations to actually yield results, they are going to have to be honest,” Britt said. “If you are going to be honest, you are going to have to trust and respect the person sitting across from you.”

Britt met with the university’s McConnell Scholars before the public presentation and praised the scholars for their thoughtful questions.

“I was soaking up every bit of hope that these young people gave me,” she said.

Britt also praised McConnell’s leadership and credited him with inviting her on an international trip to engage with foreign leaders on security matters. Reflecting on the experience, she highlighted its lasting impact to encourage her to empower others as well.

“When you march through that door, look back, grab somebody else’s hand and take them with you, because that is exactly what we are going to need to do to have success in this nation,” she said.

In moments of doubt, advice Britt’s grandfather told her continues to guide her. He said she only has control over four things: her character, her integrity, her work ethic and how she treats others. He advised her not to let anything beyond these factors dictate how she viewed herself.

“The world will place limitations on you, but it is the ones you place on yourself that will do the most damage,” Britt said.

In 2023, Britt was sworn in as Alabama’s first elected female senator and is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

In his remarks before Britt’s talk, McConnell said Britt was his “favorite freshman” and “there was no better choice” to give the Republican response to the State of the Union address in March.

The program concluded with a gift — a bottle of Old Forester Single Barrel bourbon from UofL to Britt.

“This is my first trip to Kentucky but I’m hopeful I will be back,” Britt said.