Announcements - March 25, 2009

Welcome Rep. Mike McMahon and his staff as they begin their time in Congress. His staff share their likes and dislikes of their new job and what they enjoy most about their position.

Naz Durakoglu, legislative assistant: Durakoglu, who began his tenure as legislative assistant for Rep. McMahon earlier this year, enjoys meeting people who are as passionate about international affairs as he is.

Before his job as legislative assistant, he did finance for Rep. McMahon’s congressional race and advance for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential race. “I miss the traveling with advance and the rush of learning your new assignment two hours before your plane is set to take off,” he said.

If he weren’t working in Congress, Durakoglu says, he would be bartending and moving to a new city every six months.

Jeffrey Siegel, legislative director: Siegel loves his office colleagues and co-workers in the House.

Before joining Rep. McMahon’s office, he worked as a lawyer at a big law firm in New York City. “The thing I miss most about that is getting great Chinese food at 3 a.m.,” he said.

The best advice he’s received about his job is to be tenacious. If he weren’t legislative director, he would be hiking in Alaska.


Kathryn DiBitetto, legislative assistant: As a legislative assistant to Rep. McMahon, DiBitetto is working in the District, where she grew up.

“Before joining Congressman McMahon’s team, I worked on healthcare policy at a firm downtown,” she said. She misses frantically completing her billable hours at the end of each month.

Right now, DiBitetto can’t imagine being anywhere else, but she wouldn’t mind owning a restaurant or a cupcake shop if things don’t work out in politics.


Donald Boyajian, scheduler/legislative assistant: Boyajian’s favorite part about his job is that it doesn’t feel like a job, but something that motivates and excites him with each new day.

Boyajian used to work in the natural sciences, but doesn’t miss anything from his previous work, he said. The best advice he’s received about being a scheduler and legislative assistant is to be considerate — and to use Q-tips.

If he weren’t working in Congress, he’d be fishing.

Rachel Stein, staff assistant: As staff assistant, Stein loves meeting people from all over America. She previously worked on Rep. McMahon’s election campaign for the Brooklyn side of the district.

“I miss the amazing pizza and fresh mozzarella sandwiches,” she said.

If she weren’t in politics, she’d be eating those mozzarella sandwiches and looking for an apartment in New York City.

Peter Rocco, staff assistant: Rocco enjoys working for a cause greater than himself in his job as staff assistant.

“I also like talking with constituents every day, especially the ones from my neighborhood,” he said.

His most recent job was at Edison Research, where he worked as an election researcher and analyst. “I miss my co-workers there, but coming to D.C. was the right step for me,” he said.

If he weren’t in politics, he would be teaching in AmeriCorps. “It would probably be something temporary while I kept searching for a job on the Hill,” he said.

Chris McCannell, chief of staff: As chief of staff, McCannell has had a great time putting together an office. “I love building something from scratch. For the first time in 28 years this part of New York City has been represented by a Democrat,” he said.

Before McMahon’s office, McCannell worked in a government- and public-relations firm. “I miss the shorter hours and great co-workers and clients I worked with,” he said.

If he weren’t on Capitol Hill, McCannell would either be living in Paris or working in Hollywood as a producer or agent.
{mospagebreak}Sam Morgante, legislative correspondent: Morgante’s favorite part of his job is being able to communicate directly with the people of his district.

This is Morgante’s first job, but he interned in D.C. the past three summers. The best advice he’s received is to always ask himself, “How would this look on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow?’ ”

If he weren’t with Rep. McMahon’s office, he would be in school; he just graduated in December.

Lauren Amendolara, communications director: Amendolara really enjoys the marble floors of the Capitol as she rushes from meeting to meeting as communications director.

“Like Jeff, our [legislative director], I was practicing attorney at a large New York law firm, and since leaving, the thing I miss the most is my salary and of course the people too,” she said.

Amendolara doesn’t know what the best advice she’s ever received is, but did say when answering a  call from a reporter, start with “Hello, my name is Off-the-Record.” Minutes later, follow up with “Did I mention this is off the record?” Then repeat this five more times.

If she weren’t working for the congressman, Amendolara said, the possibilities would be endless. “It’s almost too stressful to think about — motivational speaker, perhaps?” she said.

Engagements, Births and Birthdays

Pelosi granddaughter: Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and husband Peter Kaufman welcomed baby daughter Isabella into the world on Sunday.

Isabella is 6 pounds, 15 ounces and 19 and 3/4 inches long. She is the granddaughter of legendary filmmakers Philip and Rose Kaufman; her father is a film producer.

Isabella is also welcomed by a half-brother, Octavio, and seven additional Pelosi grandchildren.

Schock aide, dad-to-be:  Nate Hurn and his wife Marsha are expecting their second child on Sept. 24. Hurn is district office manager and veterans policy advisor for Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). Hurn works out of their Peoria office.

Enzi staffer engaged: Coy Knobel, communications director for Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Breaking down Trump's budget | White House finally releases infrastructure plan | Why it faces a tough road ahead | GOP, Dems feud over tax-cut aftermath | Markets rebound MORE (R-Wyo.) got engaged to fiancé Angela, a philosophy professor at Catholic University.

Knobel proposed at the couple’s site of their first date, used bookstore Capitol Hill Books. “We both really enjoy books,” Knobel said. “It seemed like the perfect place to propose.”

Before the proposal, Knobel bought a blank hardcover journal and made a realistic-looking book jacket for it, calling it “The Book of Love” by C.R. Knobel. He then cut a hole in the middle of the journal and stuck the ring inside of it, informing the store owner beforehand of his efforts.

“I stuck it on a shelf and told her to check it out, because it looked like a cool book,” he said. “She took it out and looked surprised and dropped the book.”

When Angela saw the ring, she said “Of course I will,” Knobel said.

The two plan to marry in Wyoming, where Knobel is from, on June 27 of this year.

• Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) — March 25, 1958 — age 51
• Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — March 26, 1940 — age 69
• Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) — March 28, 1953 — age 56
• Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) — March 31, 1959 — age 50
• Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) — March 31, 1940 — age 69
• Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) — March 31, 1940 — age 69
• Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) — March 31, 1955 — age 54
• Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) — March 31, 1948 — age 61


Mascara award: California University of Pennsylvania honored former Rep. Frank R. Mascara (D-Pa.) with its 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award last Tuesday.

The former Congressman is a member of Cal U’s Class of 1972 and is set to deliver a lecture at the awards ceremony on April 3.

Mascara represented Pennsylvania from 1994 until 2002 and is the third recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also a former member of California University’s Council of Trustees and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Cal U in May 1999.