By Kate Oczypok - 04/07/09 05:38 PM EDT
Those working for new member Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) have enjoyed a nearby district office in Virginia and the ability to learn the ropes of Capitol Hill while having fun in the process.
Angela Kouters, chief of staff: Kouters likes that every day is different as chief of staff for the young congressman. “Every day is high-energy and on any given day, we may actually do something that helps,” she said.
Prior to working for Rep. Nye, Kouters was chief of staff for Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.). Before that, she worked at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 cycle. She got her start on Capitol Hill working for former Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) on the Commerce Committee.
Andreas Mueller, legislative director: Mueller likes being able to make a difference for real people. He said that it’s easy to get lost in the details of legislation, but in the end the best part of the job is working to help real people who are trying to make a living and support their families.
Before working for Rep. Nye, Mueller was senior legislative assistant for Rep. McNerney. “I really miss the coffee,” he said.
The best advice he’s received about his job is: “Don’t try to do everything at once.” If he weren’t in politics, Mueller would be back in school or working in the private sector.
Clark Pettig, communications director: Pettig enjoys that he is never doing the same thing two days (or even two hours) in a row. “It’s also great having a district that is only a three and a half hour drive away,” he said.
Pettig spent the 2008 cycle in Michigan, working for candidate (now Rep.) Gary Peters (D). “I grew up along the Great Lakes, so it was great being back somewhere where the seasons actually changed — though I’m not going to complain about April weather in D.C.,” he said.
The best advice Pettig’s received about working as communications director is a variant on the old military adage: “To defend everything is to defend nothing.”
After college, Pettig was ready to run off to Hollywood and make movies. “I didn’t really have a plan, or any marketable skills, but I still keep thinking I might give it another try someday,” he said.
Rekha Chandrasekaran, legislative assistant: One of the issues Chandrasekaran handles is veterans’ affairs. She loves being able to actually meet the veterans from the district. “Being just a short drive away makes everything we do so much more personal,” she said.
Before Rep. Nye, Chandrasekaran worked for then-Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine). “We had a wonderful office and I genuinely miss the Tom Allen family and the whoopie pies,” she said.
Whit Peterson, legislative correspondent: Before working with Rep. Nye, Peterson was on the Obama campaign as a field organizer in Palm Beach County, Fla. “I got to meet a number of people who were really caring and thankful for the hard work we were putting in, and that made the five months of 90-plus-hour weeks worth it,” he said.
Peterson enjoys the brisk pace of the office. “Of course things get hectic and stressful, but I would much rather be busy than bored,” he said.
If he weren’t on Capitol Hill, he would probably be practicing for the Professional Bowlers Association. When he was in high school, he was on the bowling team two years in a row. “I realized I had a special talent,” he said. “I want to change the face of the sport and make it something that everybody enjoys watching — think the Happy Gilmore of bowling.”
Mikell Brough-Stevenson, legislative correspondent: Brough-Stevenson likes knowing that as a legislative correspondent he is making a difference in things that matter.
Before moving over to Capitol Hill, he worked at the Bennett, Petts and Normington political consulting group.
Sefonias Yacob, director of special projects: Yacob helps constituents directly and enjoys doing so, he said. Before working for Rep. Nye, Yacob taught college-level public speaking. “I miss the immediate interaction with students, watching them grow as communicators and being able to help them achieve a goal,” he said.
If he weren’t in politics, Yacob would be pursuing something entrepreneurial.
Emily Contillo, executive assistant: Contillo likes working for a new member because her job keeps her in constant contact with him and virtually every member of the staff. “I love being involved with even the seemingly mundane details about forums, meetings and visits he participates in,” she said.
Contillo graduated from Loyola College in Maryland last May, and 10 days later moved down to Virginia Beach to work on the coordinated campaign. “Working side by side with volunteers every day gave me a great sense of the constituency our office is fortunate enough to represent,” she said. “What I miss the most about that job is seeing those volunteers.”
Contillo feels lucky her office is so amiable because the communication helps her remember when there’s last-minute change in the congressman’s schedule. Contillo doesn’t know what she’ll be doing in the future, but right now she said there is nothing she’d rather be doing and nowhere she would rather be.
Michael Fossi, staff assistant/press assistant: “I enjoy being a part of something greater,” Fossi said. “When I wake up in the morning I know I am heading to work to help make a difference in our country, not just make money.”
Before Rep. Nye, Fossi worked in sales and small-business consulting for a software company. “I miss my co-workers; they were good people,” he said. “I don’t miss the work, though.”
If he weren’t in politics, Fossi has always been interested in working in law enforcement, so he would probably be in a police academy somewhere, or even a member of the U.S. Capitol Police.
AMBASSADOR: The International Center for Research on Women recently confirmed Melanne Verveer as ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues at the State Department. Her work at the White House, Vital Voices Global Partnership and the U.S. Catholic Conference led her to continue her commitment to global women’s initiatives.
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