By The Hill Staff - 07/27/11 04:00 AM EDT
Political party: Nonpartisan
Relationship status: Single
In a sea of dark suits and general preppiness, Margo Ellis stands out in the halls of Congress. After all, she is a self-described “6-foot-tall woman with a Marine Corps swagger.”
At first glance, the Washington native’s exterior is quintessentially Leatherneck: lean, fit, confident, alert, serious. Spend just a few minutes chatting with the former Marine, however, and you soon discover Ellis has a softer side.
It emerges — fittingly — as she talks about her fellow Marines.
“You find a lot of passion on Capitol Hill, but [those people] get to see their kids at the end of the day,” an emotional Ellis says. “Not Marines. That’s powerful.”
It quickly becomes clear that this respect and passion drives her work as a legislative liaison for the Veterans Affairs Department.
Ellis was an auto mechanic during her nine-year Marine Corps career.
“Growing up, if there was something that was considered ‘not normal,’ I wanted to do it,” she says.
During a deployment in Iraq, Ellis was a member of the Corps’ Female Engagement Teams, which spent weeks at a time “outside the wire” to interact with female Iraqi citizens.
Her own experience helps her as an advocate for other veterans.
“I really feel like I have won the lottery working on Capitol Hill,” she says, “because I give a voice to all woman veterans whose sacrifices and service are too often forgotten.”
When her duties are done on Capitol Hill, Ellis heads across town, where she is working on a master’s degree at Georgetown University.
She also hosts a weekly video program on the Pentagon Channel called “The American Veteran.” Asked what she does in her free time, Ellis quips, “What’s free time?”
—John T. Bennett