Capitol Faces: Erin Ryan

Erin Ryan

Title: Legislative counsel, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)
Age: 51
Hometown:  San Francisco
Marital status/children: Single
Last job: Principal consultant, California Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee. Aide to then-state Sen. Speier — “I actually worked for Jackie, and she was the chair of the committee.”
First job: Sales clerk at Lerner clothing store; first job out of law school was intelligence analyst at the CIA.
Most unusual job: Professional pastry chef
Number of cups of coffee you drink per day: Two large cups
Religion: “Spiritual, not religious.”
Favorite political TV show or movie “The Candidate”
Most inspirational figure: “My father, Leo J. Ryan.”
Dream job (not including present one): Opening a small champagne cafe
College: Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service
Graduate School: University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Passion outside work: Cooking
Claim to fame: Went from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America)

Erin Ryan’s new position in Rep. Jackie Speier’s (D-Calif.) office is a homecoming in many ways. Ryan worked for Speier in the California State Legislature, and she also has a family tie to Congress. Her late father, Leo Ryan, represented Speier’s House district in the late 1970s before being assassinated in Guyana during the Jonestown massacre. (Speier, one of Leo Ryan’s aides at the time, was also shot five times during the massacre.)

“When I first went to work for Jackie in California, from the moment I set foot in her office, it just seemed very natural and like where I was supposed to be,” she says.

Ryan also spent time in Washington in the early 1980s, working for the CIA.

“This is in my blood,” Ryan says of her return to Washington.

She hopes to help her boss continue working on consumer protection and financial privacy, issues Speier focused on in the California legislative body.

But Ryan won’t lose sight of one of her passions — baking. Ryan is a professionally trained chef, and has worked in several hotels and restaurants in the San Francisco area. Every once in a while, she regales her colleagues with spreads of homemade miniature cream puffs, fruit tarts, Key lime tarts and cheesecakes.

“My co-workers never complain,” she says.