It takes a special kind of person to work in the pressure cooker that is Session. Is it possible for two of these special people to find each other, fall in love, and tackle The Process together?
Not just possible, but highly likely.
For Valentine’s Day, we’re here to share the story of six couples who have found success —under the rotunda, in their love and family lives.
When Florida State University undergrad Allison Liby set her sights on student body president Chris Schoonover in 2005, he didn’t stand a chance. Not that he really wanted to.
“I saw his picture in the school paper. I’d never met him. I was not in student government,” she recalled. “I said ‘that’s the man I’m gonna marry.’”
Alli would get her chance soon after, when Chris served on panel interviewing her and other candidates for the FSU’s Garnet and Gold Key leadership honor society.
“When I walked in that interview, and I saw that he was sitting in the middle of the dais … I thought ‘this is the interview of a lifetime. This is it, this is a make or break,’” she said.
Allison Liby-Schoonover, as she is now known, did not break, did make the honor society — and made an impression on the unsuspecting law school student.
“I was pretty blown away by the interview and then made it my mission to get to meet her at a social event later that night, Chris said.
They became a couple and stayed together when she left Tallahassee to study for her master’s degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania and teach at a Title 1 school. They maintained a long-distance relationship throughout their engagement, trying to visit each other once a month.
While Alli had always planned to return to Tallahassee, both she and Chris fell in love with Philadelphia and were married in the “very historic nerdy city” on July 4, 2009. “We thought it was a great excuse to celebrate a city on a great holiday with our friends,” she said.
Of note, their 7-year-old daughter is named Liberty, after the famous bell. They are also the parents of almost-5-year-old twin boys, William and Andrew. All their progeny are blessed with curly mop tops.
Chris is a partner and lobbyist with Capital City Consulting, focusing his efforts on education, health care and gaming. Credit firm owner Nick Iarossi with convincing Chris to run for student body president and mentoring him into The Process; his original plan was to become a doctor.
Alli is a senior policy adviser at the Metz Husband & Daughton law firm, where she puts her Ivy League degree and legislative experience to work concentrating on education-related issues.
Sometimes the couple find their work puts them on opposite sides of an issue, but “I work for a law firm, Chris is a lawyer, and we have to abide by the canons of the Bar, so we’re very respectful about that stuff,” she said. A credo made difficult at times during the COVID-19 lockdown, when inadvertent overhearing could be a problem. “One of us may have tucked ourselves into a closet or a room and shut the door a couple of times,” Alli said.
Alli will be attending a work dinner on Valentine’s Day, so it will be up to dad to “be the Valentine to my daughter and sons.”
Their usual tradition started when Alli was expecting. “We were going to order in and I said, ‘you can get whatever you want when you’re pregnant,’” she recalled. So, they ordered different foods from different restaurants. Now, everybody in the family can get their favorite foods to celebrate the day.
Their young family and FSU are top priorities for the couple and oftentimes the two mingle.
“It’s fun for us to live in the town that has our alma mater,” Alli said. “We get to take our kids to football games and basketball games, we go to a lot of the Opening Nights stuff. We go to the Marching Chiefs and Prism, concerts for the school of music. Every football weekend our house is full of our college friends. Sometimes they bring their families, sometimes they just come to have fun and it’s really special.”
Family, however, always comes first.
“We love our jobs and our careers. This is what we always dreamed of. We work for incredible clients and great teams,” Alli said. “But we know we have one shot to raise our kids. Our most important work is before we get to the office and then when we leave the office.”