Barrett Karr

Position: Staff director for the Republican office of the House Education and Labor Committee
Age: 36
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Marital status/children: Married, one son (4 months)

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Last job: Deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs
First job: Perfume spritzer in a department store — “It was awful. Nobody wants to be sprayed with that stuff.”
Most unusual job: “Camp counselor at a camp in Northern Ireland that tried to get the Protestant and Catholic kids to work together. We would do some trust-building exercises with them. It was a rewarding job, and I think we actually made some small contribution to a more united country.”
Religion: Presbyterian
College: Texas Christian University
Graduate school: George Washington University
Managerial style: Goal-oriented
Dream job (not including present one): “Maybe to be the president of Hershey’s Chocolate. I love chocolate.”  Passion outside of work: Swimming and mountain biking.
Most embarrassing moment: “Having to call back to my office at the White House on week two of my new legislative-affairs job and explain that I had lost my members of Congress on my first Air Force One trip. My only job was to look after them, and sure enough, I’d lost them. I hopped into the wrong motorcade when we landed in California. The members went to a Social Security forum. I went to a nursing home. Not my proudest moment.”
Most inspirational figure: “Dara Torres. I swim most mornings, at 5:30 a.m., with a masters swim team. On the days I don’t want to get up, I think of Torres, a mom in her 40s, breaking a world record just three weeks after her daughter was born. That shames me out of bed.”
Claim to fame: “I can ride a unicycle. Actually, it’s my father’s claim to fame, since he taught all the kids in my family to ride a unicycle.”

After working as the deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs in President Bush’s second administration, Barrett Karr returns to Capitol Hill as the new staff director of the House Education and Labor Committee’s Republican office.

Before venturing down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Texas native worked in Rep. Kay Granger’s (R-Texas) office for eight years. She missed Capitol Hill, she said.

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“It’s more of an inclusive atmosphere,” Karr said. “The White House has even more security and it’s even harder to access, and so coming up to Capitol Hill where you can see so many different members and see so many different people that you work with for so many years is a really great way to share information.”

Karr is expected to start full-time in a couple of weeks. Right now she’s still getting situated with the new job, drawing up a blueprint for the committee’s goals and looking for the best ways it can succeed.

“I hope I can be an inclusive staff director and have quality staff who are doing quality work, and if you have all of those things, then you can have a good team approach,” Karr said.

She also cites the committee’s mission as motivation for her new job.

“The issues that this committee confronts are the issues that confront almost every voter. Most voters have gone to school, they have had a job or are looking for a job, or they need health insurance,” she said. “These are the very issues that families are talking about around the dinner table.”