Dan McLaughlin prides himself on being a good negotiator—a skillset he developed thanks to classes at Moraine Valley Community College.

McLaughlin, mayor of Orland Park since 1993, says it was in his psychology class that he started to build on the foundation for critical thinking.

“The teacher made it a point to tell us we need to try to see the other side,” he said. “When you’re arguing with someone or something happens, try to understand where he or she is coming from. That was the first time this whole concept hit me between the eyes.”

McLaughlin, who has been the executive director of the Builders Association since 2013, said this concept has made him better at negotiating and solving problems in business, as mayor and in interactions with all people.

“This whole theory that was introduced to me at Moraine Valley has stuck with me,” he said.

After finishing classes at Moraine Valley in 1974, McLaughlin went to work in a family business for a number of years before serving as executive director of the Plumbing Contractors Association.

His deep-rooted commitment to Orland Park began with involvement in a small homeowner’s group.

“There was some vacant property and the village decided to sell the land, but I was like, ‘wait, that’s supposed to be a park.’ Interestingly, I actually started in politics in Orland Park fighting city hall,” he said.

Together with other like-minded fathers, the men built Bill Young Park, a small neighborhood tot lot.  It was the park’s success that caused McLaughlin to be noticed and soon he was asked to volunteer for the village’s Parking and Traffic Advisory Board.  Then was a successful bid in 1983 for village trustee, and after 10 years as a trustee, McLaughlin won his first mayoral election.

McLaughlin said he has been amazed at the college’s growth over the years.

“The campus I was familiar with when I was in school was dominated by mobile units and one main building. It has grown so much in size, quality and professionalism. It really is such a point of pride for our community,” he said, noting that if his schedule frees up, he would love to come back to Moraine Valley to take classes at his leisure.

The mayor said he is please to have a college of Moraine Valley’s caliber serve this district and the municipality he oversees.

“It’s such a huge asset to have Moraine Valley in the community,” he said. “It’s probably the best opportunity in our area to get retrained and learn new skills to do something else. Plus, for those just coming out of high school it’s a great place to start. Whenever I have the chance to talk to young students, I tell them to consider the opportunities offered at Moraine Valley.”