The White House isn’t the only place in D.C. that’s shuffling employees around, but the mood in the office of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) is probably more upbeat because people are not moving out as much as they’re moving up.
The upwardly mobile new communications director, Thomas Bean, explains: “Our legislative director left to take a position as the staff director for the House Republican Policy Committee. Our staff has come up basically through the ranks.”
“The congressman is a lot of fun,” Bean says. “If you don’t have a good sense of humor you won’t last in this office.”
Before Bean began working for the congressman in 2003, he worked for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as a legislative correspondent.
Bean majored in journalism at the University of Florida and spends a lot of time reading newspapers, but he’s careful not to spend all of his time reading up on politics. Watching and reading about both professional and college sports helps keep him sane, he says.
“If you spend all your time focusing on the ins and outs of the Hill you get a very one-sided view of life,” he says.
Bean embraces variety in his life. When not toiling away on the Hill, he can be found watching “The Godfather” (part one, with Brando) or playing a pickup game of basketball.
New Legislative Correspondent Tina O’Hara also likes to mix it up. A former graphic designer, O’Hara recently designed a poster that was blown up and used for her boss’s presentation on the House floor.
“That was really cool,” O’Hara says.
After several years working as a graphic designer, she came to Washington to pursue a master’s degree in international commerce and policy, knowledge that will no doubt come in handy in her new job.
“It’s great to be learning about all the issues,” she says.
The position in Diaz-Balart’s office is giving O’Hara, 27, the opportunity to put her master’s degree to use, such as when she took a trip to Turkey in January to learn about the country’s plight to join the European Union.
Lauren Robitaille, 23, has been promoted to senior legislative assistant. Robitaille is from Stuart, Fla., and a University of Florida graduate.
In her new duties, Robitaille will lead the legislative office and will handle Diaz-Balart’s Transportation Committee assignment. Additionally, she will handle healthcare, education, environment, tax and commerce issues.
Additionally, Miguel Mendoza, 24, has been promoted to legislative assistant from legislative correspondent. He is a Miami native and a University of Florida graduate. He will handle the congressman’s Budget Committee and Science Committee duties as well as agriculture, defense and immigration issues
New Staff Assistant Adriana Pereira, 22, a brand new hire, says she doesn’t mind the menial tasks that staff assistants must do. In fact, she thinks of them as an honor: “I feel like my tasks are simple but significant.”
Pereira came to Washington in January after graduating from Florida International University with a communications degree. Pereira also plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.
One thing that Bean, O’Hara and Pereira have in common is the respect they share for their boss.
“He’ll come in and chitchat with us and joke around,” Bean says. “He’s not your average elected official.”