The cult following of Wasserman Schultz

There are three new aides in the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and if there is one thing that binds them all, it is their distinct affection and admiration for the congresswoman. Sure, everyone says they love the boss — but these aides mean it, talking about her in such a way that it seems as though they believe she has reached cult status.

Cecily Hastings, 23, a new staff assistant who began full-time in February, came to Wasserman Schultz’s office from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because, she says, “I felt like she was someone I could believe in.”  

Her position at the DCCC, where she worked for the election protection program, was temporary. A native of San Jose, Calif., Hastings graduated from Chicago’s Northwestern University with a degree in political science and a concentration on the Middle East.

In the short term, she’d like to be promoted to legislative assistant. In the long term, however, she’d like to pursue a career path in foreign affairs.

Rosalyn Kumar is another huge fan of Wasserman Schultz. The Dallas native graduated from Southern Methodist University with degrees in international studies and psychology. She earned a law degree at Briery Price Prior Law School in London.

“Love her, love the office, it’s fantastic,” says Kumar, 27, a new legislative correspondent-legislative assistant in the office. “We are overworked and underpaid and it’s the best damn job.”

Kumar’s eyes grow wide. “Oh my god, she’s amazing,” she says of her boss. “It’s that high energy. She makes you want to work. I go home exhausted every day. It’s amazing to work for a member who works a lot harder than you do and you know it.”

Another recent hire to Wasserman Schultz is Rachel Streitfeld, 22, who had been an intern. This week she graduates from George Washington University. After that, she will work full-time as the congresswoman’s staff assistant.

“This is probably one of the best opportunities for a college graduate,” says Streitfeld, who grew up in the congresswoman’s district in Plantation, Fla.  

Like the other aides, she can’t say enough about her boss. “She’s incredible,” she says. “To me, she is a personal role model.”

Jonathan Pyatt, 34, is not a new aide in the office, but he has been promoted from legislative counsel to floor assistant and legislative counsel.

His list of degrees is lengthy: a degree in journalism at the University of Illinois, followed by Pepperdine University Law School.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Pyatt was working as a prosecutor in San Diego on cases dealing with child abuse and domestic violence. But after the attacks, he felt a great need to work in public service and returned to graduate school for a degree in international security and policy.

He won’t gush about Wasserman Schultz like his younger coworkers, but the Pinckneyville, Ill., native does understand the draw to her. “One [thing] that makes her so fun is she’s not a great deal older than people on her staff and she speaks our language,” he says.