By Kris Kitto - 03/03/09 06:23 PM EST
Slater, who recently joined Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s (D-Calif.) office as a legislative assistant, remembers writing letters to the governor and lawmakers of her home state of Delaware as a child.
What were the letters about?
“Just anything that I might have heard my parents talking about,” says Slater, now 25. “My family wasn’t really political at all, but they definitely encouraged me to always speak my mind — if I saw something that I believed to be wrong, to do whatever I thought was the right thing to help right the wrong.”
Slater has been in Washington since graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and now looks back on her youthful letter campaigns with the eye of a grizzled political operative.
“I’m sure I just wrote the letter and had my parents put it in an envelope and send it off — if they even did that,” she jokes. “It might be like those Santa Claus letters.”
She hasn’t lost her pride in her home state, though, calling Joe Biden’s rise from Delaware’s senior senator to vice president in the Obama administration “all very exciting.”
Slater said Delaware has “such a small-town feel” that, growing up, she would see Biden and other state politicians “at basically every fair, every church thing.”
“I think that that was probably very unique that most people don’t get to experience, having your senators have so much visibility and presence,” she said.
Slater also remembers when Biden was still giving Capitol tours to groups of students like her.
When she and her classmates came to Washington on an elementary school trip, they were expecting a staffer to guide them around Capitol Hill. Instead, they got Biden himself.
“I thought that that was just absolutely amazing, and I thought that he was just this amazing person,” she recalls. “And now, it has come to fruition.”
Slater has become a Tauscher protégé. She previously worked in the financial-services sector and handles financial-services, tax, small-business and education issues for the congresswoman, who was one of the youngest and first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Slater has also gone where others might fear to go. She held three jobs — all with a political or financial-services bent — while studying full time for a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University.
“I find that I probably do the best when I completely immerse myself in something that I’m interested in,” she said. “Every hour of my day was completely planned out for one year. It was worth it, though.”
Slater, who interned for Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) after graduating from college, said she was looking to work for a lawmaker with a financial background when recently shopping her résumé around Capitol Hill.
Tauscher “fits the bill to a T,” she said.