Inside the Office of Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.): Aketa Marie Simmons

Age: 27

Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.; Detroit

Education: B.S. from Belmont University in Spanish and political sociology

Last job: Press secretary to Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHouse rejects effort to condemn lawmaker for demanding 'Dreamer' arrests Hispanic Dems seek vote to condemn GOP lawmaker for demanding arrests of 'Dreamers' Dem lawmaker: ‘We are seeing the dumbing down of the presidency’ MORE (D-Ohio)

Biggest communications success: Booking single-issue interviews in one hour on all of our news stations, resulting in my boss going on record before any other public official in our media market. The interviews were re-aired during each news broadcast during the entire cycle. It was an important issue to us, and important to me that people know my boss was working hard to get results.

Best communications advice you’ve received: I’ve received so much great communications and career advice that I should start a blog. It’s hard to choose when I’ve learned from so many amazing communicators. 

Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: Calling a member another member’s name. In my defense, it was my first month and I was so excited that I accidentally said the wrong name. Lesson learned!

Interests outside of work: Traveling, restoring furniture, DIY decorating projects and pretending to work out in order to hang out with my friends (I’m running a half-marathon in October, so I’m pretending a lot these days!).

As a student at an arts middle school, Aketa Marie Simmons used to imagine herself pursuing a career in international music publishing.

“I loved all the performing arts,” she explained, having once won an elementary-school songwriting contest and later enrolling at Belmont University to study music business.

Though Simmons ultimately switched her major to political sociology and Spanish, what she does now is not as removed from her childhood hobby as it might seem.

“I’ve always been really interested in words and language and song and poetry and speeches — and now, in quotes,” she said.

For Simmons, who was born in Detroit and raised in Nashville, Tenn., entering politics came just as naturally as her passion for music once did.

Simmons’s family has always been politically active, with members working on local campaigns and holding local offices around the country.

“We think [policy] can have a very personal impact, especially in state government and local government,” Simmons said of her family’s commitment to public service.

And for Simmons, when working at the federal level, “the question is, is that policy being responsive to everyone? Not just the people who can afford expensive lobbyists, but is it really being responsive to average folks, like my family and my neighbors and people I went to school with — average folks who just want to live their lives?” she said.

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