By The Hill Staff - 07/25/12 09:00 AM EDT
Hometown: Fairfax, Va.
Political party: Nonpartisan
Relationship status: Single
Mark Keightley might have grown up in the Washington area, but politics was far from this rugged outdoorsman’s mind when he decided to leave home and attend the University of Montana.
“Originally when I went to college, I was supposed to be a biophysics major, but there was some stupid lab at 7 a.m. on a Friday, and I was like, ‘Forget this,’ ” he says with a laugh.
Instead, a professor inspired him to focus on economics, and Keightley has pursued that passion ever since. He received his Ph.D. from the Florida State University, but after nine years away, he felt the pull to return home in 2008.
He still isn’t that interested in politics, but admits it’s entertaining to get the “bird’s-eye” view of both sides of the political aisle.
“It’s fun — you get to see a lot of the stuff that a lot of the public won’t see as far as what’s going on on the Hill,” he says.
And while you can take an economist out of the outdoors, it’s pretty tough to take the outdoors out of Keightley. The sportsman still makes time to go fishing, hunting and snowboarding, as well as hit the gym or play basketball daily when stuck in the city.
For a guy who was eager to leave and has little interest in Washington’s main draw, Keightley’s now pretty sure he’s back in Washington for good.
He recently bought a house in Alexandria, Va., just three doors down from his brother and sister-in-law.
“I really put [down] roots,” he says. “I think I’m here for the long haul.”
— Debbie Siegelbaum