50 Most Beautiful 2009 - Readers' Choice

In Congress, the power is in the vote. This year, for the sixth annual 50 Most Beautiful People list, The Hill’s readers can vote for not one but two people. We introduce to you eight brave congressional aides, campaigners and lobbyists who have put their fate in your hands. For the next three weeks, until July 24, you can submit a vote for your favorite candidates at 50mb@thehill.com (put the contestants’ names in the subject line). The top two vote-getters will be a part of this year’s 50 Most Beautiful list. You, readers, will find out who won when the list comes out later this month. It’s democracy in action.

— Photos by Benjamin J. Myers 

 

 Alexandra Brunory

Age: 24
Hometown: Pittsburgh
Political party: Republican
Dating status: In a relationship


Alexandra Brunory gets hit on, and she’s not afraid to admit it.

“I’m confident with the way I look, not cocky but confident,” said the intern in Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (R-Mo.) office. “I don’t want to say I expect it, but it happens more here than it did back home. I actually get hit on by a lot of older men. It was surprising at first, but I kind of just take it in stride now.”

It seems natural that guys are attracted to the 24-year-old brunette. Her unique style, sharp personality and stunning looks are apparent to anyone who lays eyes on her.

But Brunory’s more than just good looks. She’s a sports nut and former college athlete.

“I’m into anything sports-related,” she said. “I played collegiate soccer, so I try to stay involved in that with the different leagues that are in the area.”

Brunory previously worked at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She knew she wanted to work in Washington after an internship on Capitol Hill following her junior year of college. She liked it so much, she didn’t want to go back to school, but she relented for a year and moved to the Washington area permanently after graduation.

So how does this Pittsburgh native keep her style fresh? It’s simple: Don’t do what everyone else is doing.

“I don’t follow trends,” she said. “I wear whatever I feel comfortable in, and it’s worked so far for me. I like to keep a classic look; my favorite jewelry is pearls. That way I can be stylish at work but I can be taken seriously, too.”


— Miles Hilder

 

 Eva Bermudez

Age: 22
Hometown: Hartford, Conn., and San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: In a long-distance relationship


You could say Eva Bermudez has taken the plunge.

Before starting her internship with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Bermudez traveled to South Africa for the bungee-jump equivalent of a leap off a 40-story building. It’s the highest jump in the world.

“It was fear all around, but it was awesome afterwards,” said the petite brunette. “I have never been more terrified in my life.”

She thinks of herself as fun-loving and spunky, and she loves to travel.

“I don’t mind trying new things,” Bermudez said. “I would describe myself as adventurous and a thrill-seeker. “
Bermudez considers her hometown to be in Puerto Rico, despite having been raised in Hartford, Conn. Her family is originally from the Puerto Rican town of Yabucoa, and after her internship, Bermudez plans to return to San Juan, where she attended college.

Bermudez has traveled to more than 11 countries, including Argentina and Paraguay. She also speaks three languages.

Those linguistic skills have come in handy during her five-month extended internship in Rangel’s office.

Bermudez has hosted bilingual meetings, written briefs and memos in Spanish and spoken on air for Spanish news stations like Telemundo on behalf of the congressman.

When asked about her experience as an intern on Capitol Hill, she said, “It’s amazing; it’s a very busy office.”

And as for her 50 Most Beautiful People Readers’ Choice candidacy, Bermudez’s co-workers are among her biggest supporters.

“They were like, ‘Go get ’em’ when they found out I had been nominated,” she said.

Bermudez is in the process of applying to law school and looking for fellowships, but she said without a doubt she wants to return to Capitol Hill.

“I like the work that I did for the office,” she said, “so I’ll probably start off there and see what happens with it.”

— Katelyn Ferral

 

 Brad Bauman

Age: 30
Hometown: Miami
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: Single


If you happen to walk into the same bar as Brad Bauman, you’ll know it in about 1.5 seconds.

That’s how long it takes Bauman, a free-spirited sport fisherman from Miami, to grab your attention with his loud voice and louder personality.

“I’ve always been of the belief that you let your personality shine, you don’t put up any pretense, you let your sense of humor go and you end up becoming that magnetic person that people want to be around,” said the communications director for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).

Mission accomplished. Bauman’s infectious personality has inspired a semi-underground movement to get him onto this year’s edition of The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list. A Facebook group started by some of his admirers states that Bauman “epitomizes internal and external beauty, in addition to being one of the most talented communications directors on the Hill,” and after meeting him, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a valid argument against that claim.

So where can you meet this gregarious character when he’s out of the office? Some of his favorite haunts are Rocket Bar in Chinatown and the new H Street Country Club in Northeast Washington. No matter where you run into him, though, chances are he’ll be with his friends.

“I’m all over the place,” Bauman admits, “and I’ve been blessed over the last few years with some of the most amazing friends anybody could ask for, and so we pretty much go around and tear up the town.”

— M.H. 

 

 Vennia Francois

Age: “Off limits”
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Political party: Republican
Dating status: Single


If it weren’t for music, Vennia Francois might not be in Washington.

A self-described opera enthusiast, Francois’s love of song led to an encounter with Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) at a musical gala in the summer of 2005. The congressman offered Vennia an internship in his Washington office, and she accepted. Like so many before her, Francois fell in love with the city.

Since then she has earned a law degree from Florida A&M University and has settled into a job as a legislative assistant to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). Ever the hard worker, Vennia says the highlight of her job is “knowing at the end of the day that I’ve been instrumental in helping a constituent solve an issue.”

She is tall and slim, but quickly dismisses her figure as the result of good genes.

“I don’t do anything [to keep my figure],” she said. “Gosh, I’ve been this way since high school. I eat a lot; I love junk food. I eat a lot of chocolate, a lot of cookies, and I love Italian, so I eat a lot of pasta.”

But there is one caveat — she admits to exercising often and professes a love for tennis and generally being outdoors, a preference undoubtedly born of the sunny, warm climate of her hometown.

An encounter with Francois calls to mind a bevy of adjectives — elegant, striking, graceful — but the best word to describe her is poised. She measures her words carefully and exudes confidence and maturity with her slight Southern accent. She credits this to her upbringing.

“I come from a strong-valued and principled Christian background with hardworking parents who encouraged their children to succeed under any circumstances and to strive for the best to attain their life achievements,” she said.

— M.H.

 

 Arjun Jaikumar

Age: 26
Hometown: Boston
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: In a relationship


Arjun Jaikumar has been on Capitol Hill for less than two months and the shaggy-haired blogger and new-media guru for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is already getting noticed.

Jaikumar had been in town a mere five weeks before he received the call that he’d been nominated for The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People Readers’ Choice contest.

“I feel like one of my friends is probably having a laugh,” he said. “I think it’s hilarious. I’m stunned — I didn’t even know this existed until fairly recently. I’m very flattered and rather amused.”

Before he landed his new gig with the DSCC, Jaikumar was a staffer for the Daily Kos blog and website in New York. He is still settling in to Washington, but he is enjoying his new city, particularly the theater scene.

“I used to be into theater,” the Northwestern University alumnus said. “When I was younger, I wanted to be an actor. It’s still something I enjoy doing … I’m sort of an amateur playwright.”

Jaikumar said that as a Shakespeare devotee, he has been pleasantly surprised with the vibrancy of D.C.’s Shakespeare theater.

“I’ve always been into Shakespeare, and to this day, it’s still something I like to do, and that’s one thing I like about D.C. — their Shakespeare theater is fantastic,” he said.

When asked how he maintains his look, he quipped wryly, “I try to shave for work, and I try to get a haircut when people start looking at me funny … I probably need one around now. I didn’t know I had a look. I guess total lack of exercise. I walk a lot, I skip meals to keep my svelte figure, I drink a lot of coffee and probably not enough water. I do everything wrong.”


— K.F.

 

 Ty McKeiver

Age: 26
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: Single


With an affinity for a good beat and a soulful charisma, Ty McKeiver says his life is a dance floor.

“Everywhere I go, I’m always dancing,” the House Homeland Security Committee Democratic staffer said. “It could be a country line dance bar, or a place that plays hip-hop — I’m all over the dance floor.”

McKeiver’s college days at Florida International University in Miami nurtured his interest in a variety of dances. McKeiver, who has a closely cropped haircut and a compact body perfect for fast movement, noted that he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to a solid beat.

“I’m never shy about dancing. It’s like one of those things — when the beat hits you, you gotta get out there, make it your own,” McKeiver said. “Miami is a big club scene, so I learned how to salsa, merengue, bachata.”

When he’s not impressing the ladies with his rug-cutting skills, McKeiver enjoys reading and frequenting coffee shops — particularly those with high-quality pastry on offer.

“I definitely love a good coffee shop, especially if there’s a place where there’s a good doughnut or two,” McKeiver said. “I’m all about it. I’m never shy of doughnuts. They kind of make my life.”

McKeiver started out as an intern for the committee and moved to Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) office before returning to the House Homeland Security to work on grant oversight, global counterterrorism and human trafficking and smuggling.

When he was approached to be a part of The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People Readers’ Choice contest, he thought it was a joke.

“I didn’t really believe it … it’s kind of a silly award, but it’s interesting, something I’m not used to doing,” he said. “I figured, you know, why not? I’ve been up here long enough.”


— K.F.  

 

 Kathy Mitchell

Age: 32
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
Political party: “Moderate Democrat”
Dating status: It’s complicated (“but I’m happy”)


To say Kathy Mitchell is active would be an understatement.

In addition to her job as a lobbyist for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Mitchell serves on the leadership team of the Junior League of Washington, volunteers with In-Street Village, a women’s homeless shelter, and is training for the New York Marathon. She also is an avid golfer, was recently certified in scuba diving and is an ardent traveler, having been to all 50 states and 21 countries. Her most recent excursions included scuba trips to Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

“I love to travel, I do,” said Mitchell, whose brown hair complements her tanned skin. “I’ll travel with friends, family — anybody who’ll go with me. I’ll travel alone, too, if no one wants to go with me. “

Before lobbying, Mitchell worked for health nonprofits in Oklahoma and for the House Financial Services Committee.

“I developed a love and passion for the insurance issues,” she said. “The federal government is looking to take a bigger role in insurance regulation, and so I wanted to take a part in shaping that and seeing what the total outcome would be.”

For all of her busyness, Mitchell apparently does find time to relax at home. She just bought a condo in LeDroit Park, where she lives with her Dachshund, Abby, whom she adopted from a rescue organization.

When asked how she feels about being a part of The Hill’s inaugural 50 Most Beautiful People Readers’ Choice contest, Mitchell says she just hopes those selected are beautiful both inside and out.

“It’s pretty flattering,” she said. “Capitol Hill is full of great, wonderful, intelligent people, and I have a few friends who’ve been a part of this in the past … They’re great, wonderful people, so to be in with them is positive.”


— K.F. 

 

 Andrew Neal

Age: 29
Hometown: Wheeling, W.Va.
Political party: Declined to say
Dating status: In a relationship


It’s a good thing Andrew Neal enjoys running. Otherwise the family bakery business combined with his predilection for sweets could seriously expand his waistline.

“I’m an avid runner — I run every day,” the tall blonde said. He’s an avid baker, too. His favorite thing to make is chocolate cheesecake.

Neal, who works in the Office of Compilation of Precedents for the House Parliamentarian, graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received a J.D. from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. Prior to joining the House Parliamentarian office in February, he worked with the Delegation of the European Union, the Transportation Security Administration and the Bureau of National Affairs.

When he’s not busy compiling House precedents, the West Virginian enjoys Pittsburgh Steelers football and “telling West Virginia stories.” He maintains his look by “keeping active, drinking lots of water, getting lots of sleep and trying not to lose any more hair.”

Upon receiving notification that he was selected as a Readers’ Choice contestant for this year’s 50 Most Beautiful People list, Neal confessed to some embarrassment.

“I turned beet red when I saw it, and then I was like, ‘Ah, why not?’” he said.

Good looks run in the family: His grandmother was a model in the 1920s and ’30s.

Being one of Capitol Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People “would do my grandmother proud,” he said.

— K.F.