Hometown: Birmingham, England
Political party: “Not Republican”
Relationship status: Single
You realize quickly that Carla Coley is less inhibited than most when, 10 minutes after you’ve met, she’s handing over her sandwich and offering a bite.
It turns out that unconventional is a running theme.
The buoyant scheduler for Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) was born in England and spent her high school years in Puerto Rico. She’s intrigued by politics but has a background in literature and foreign languages, and she shuns the gym in favor of volunteering at Children’s Hospital.
It was Coley’s Puerto Rican ties that attracted her to Serrano, who hails from the island’s west coast. Only afterwards did she discover there was another thread linking the two: a deep infatuation with Frank Sinatra.
Well-traveled (she mentions tours in Italy and Istanbul) and well-read (Nabokov’s Lolita is her favorite), Coley says she’s come to appreciate the “different pockets of culture” in Washington — spots that too often go unseen.
“It’s a shame that when people talk about Washington, it’s so reductive,” she says.
Almost four years into her Capitol Hill stint, Coley says she’s still often star-struck — but learning to manage.
“Before, I felt like I was just walking around in a sense of general awe. Now I feel like I’m a part of it,” she says. “If you’re in a constant sense of awe, you’re not going to get anything done.”
For Coley, a typical Saturday night is decidedly untypical: She often gathers with friends to listen to jazz on NPR and mix up a specialty drink — concocted just for the occasion — called the “Constantino Brewmidi,” a play on the 19th century painter (Brumidi) whose frescos adorn the underside of the Capitol dome.
Her take on romance also is off the beaten path.
“It's on a list, but there’s no rush to get there,” Coley says. “It’s easier to fly by the seat of your pants if it’s just you.”