Capitol Faces: Jennifer Burita

Position: Deputy chief of staff for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Age: 41
Hometown: Alexandria
Marital status/children: Married to Mike, sons Alex (6) and Evan (3)
Last job: Communications director for Collins
First job: Crossing guard in the fourth grade
Most unusual job: Front desk clerk at a hotel in Vail, Colo.
Most embarrassing moment: “Ran late for an event and, when I got there, realized I had two different shoes on—one navy, one black.”
Number of cups of coffee you drink per day: “Zero. I can’t put down the Diet Coke, though.”
Religion: Methodist
Favorite political TV show or movie: Favorite TV show is “Reno 911!”
Most inspirational figure: “My late grandmother, Lovola Burgess, and secondly, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson.”
Dream job (not including present one): “Getting paid to shop and riding my bike.”
College: New Mexico State University
Graduate School: George Mason University
Passion outside work: “My family, my friends and fitness.”
Claim to fame: “In elementary school, I appeared several times on a science educational TV program in Albuquerque, N.M.”

Jen Burita got an early introduction to the nation’s capital. Her late grandmother, Lovola Burgess, was national president of AARP and introduced Burita to various elected officials when she took Burita with her on her trips to Washington.

“I knew upon college graduation that I wanted to work in Washington,” Burita said in an e-mail interview.

After 11 years as a Capitol Hill press aide, Burita is Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-Maine) new deputy chief of staff. She sees a big year ahead for her boss.

“Sen. Collins has always been a key player in the U.S. Senate,” she said. “But as a moderate Republican who has always worked closely with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle and who won her reelection race by 23 percentage points in a year that was not good for Republicans, this will be even truer in the 111th Congress.”

Among Burita’s top priorities in her new post are helping her boss address the nation’s economic issues and working on energy policy.

And though she’ll miss working closely with Capitol Hill and Maine media, there’s one part of her old job she’s ready to leave behind: “I will not miss — and my husband agrees — the weekend, evening and early-morning press calls!”