'When I met Ron Brown, I knew then I wanted to become a lobbyist'

Jarvis Stewart and Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) were college students when they met as interns at the Democratic National Committee during the summer of 1990. Ford’s father, a member of Congress, had bought him two new suits for his internship. He showed up for work early the first morning and Ginny Terzano, a longtime press hand in Democratic Party politics, told him to put together the clips.
Jarvis Stewart and Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) were college students when they met as interns at the Democratic National Committee during the summer of 1990.

Ford’s father, a member of Congress, had bought him two new suits for his internship. He showed up for work early the first morning and Ginny Terzano, a longtime press hand in Democratic Party politics, told him to put together the clips.
Patrick G. Ryan
Lobbyist Jarvis Stewart has worked on former President Clinton’s campaign, as a musical talent scout and as Rep. Harold Ford’s (D-Tenn.) chief of staff.


So Ford cut out articles, photocopied them and delivered them.

“I got up on the third floor, where [DNC Chairman Ronald] Brown’s office was, and I did not see a lot of young people, and all of a sudden I saw a young guy, a black guy, on the phone with a foot up on the desk reading the paper,” Ford said.

“He says, ‘Just leave my clips right there,’” Ford said, adding that he and Stewart still joke about that incident to this day when they relax on Monday nights while eating steaks and watching “Monday Night Football.”

Stewart, now a 36-year-old lobbyist who heads his own firm, was a senior at Prairie View A&M University in 1989 when he decided to head to Washington after reading a New York Times profile about Brown, a superstar lobbyist and political strategist who later was killed in a 1995 plane crash in Bosnia while serving as commerce secretary.

“He did not know me from a can of paint. I sat down and wrote him a letter telling him I wanted to work for him,” Stewart said. “He said he could not hire me but I could work as an intern.”

Stewart worked at Best Buy long enough to buy a 1979 Honda Accord that had been driven 170,000 miles. With no air conditioning, he drove to Washington from Houston.

For the next three years, Stewart worked the campaign circuit helping to elect Democrats and, eventually, then-Gov. Bill Clinton. In 1992, he followed a girlfriend to California, where he scouted musical talent for Sony Records and worked as a community activist.

“When I met Ron Brown, I knew then I wanted to become a lobbyist. I just didn’t know how you became one,” he said.

After five years in Los Angeles, Stewart returned to Washington to work for Brown’s former chief of staff, Alexis Herman, at the Department of Labor.

Stewart joined Ford’s congressional office as chief of staff, where he met his wife, Stacey, who has been the president of the Fannie Mae Foundation since 1999 and is a prot