By Debbie Siegelbaum - 04/23/12 11:38 PM EDT
Title: Senior adviser
Education: B.S., business administration, Florida A & M University; M.B.A., Florida A&M University
Last job: Senior pharmaceutical sales representative, GlaxoSmithKline
Legislative specialty: Foreign affairs, civil rights, human rights and healthcare
Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: Shortly after I started on the Hill, I took a call from a young woman who was adamant that she meet with the congresswoman on what she described as an “extremely important matter.” Her tone sounded extremely distressed, so I shifted my schedule for her to meet with me that afternoon. In my newness, I was proud to be in a position to provide assistance to someone in urgent need. When the woman arrived that afternoon, surprisingly she brought a group with her. While I was walking them into the meeting area, I saw my colleagues snickering but didn’t understand why. Right when we sat down, the group began singing a loud, poorly harmonized, off-pitched, Mariah Carey-esque version of the National Anthem. I was so confused. And to top it off, I could hear my colleagues burst into laughter on the other side of the door. After I finally wrapped up the meeting, my entire office teased me because this group was well-known for their theatrics. They had all avoided taking this meeting themselves but were all too happy to let me meet with them with no sort of warning. I am still trying to get them back for that!
Interests outside of work: Currently, I am a New Leaders Council Fellow, a fellowship for young and progressive leaders. I also serve as vice president of the Congressional Black Associates. I am a coach for Brown Girls Lead and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
In addition to numerous political causes, Keenan Austin and Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica WilsonHouse panel approves juvenile justice reform bill Democrats applaud move to put Tubman on bill Pelosi: ‘We must and we will bring back’ Nigerian schoolgirls MORE (D-Fla.) have bonded over another mutual interest: clothes.
“We do share a love for fashion and a love for shopping,” Austin said with a laugh, referring to Wilson’s well-known role as a congressional fashion plate.
Austin, a former buyer for Macy’s, brought her business acumen to Wilson’s campaign after the two met at a Florida fundraiser. Austin oversaw social media, and when Wilson won her seat in Congress, it was an easy decision to relocate from Miami to Washington.
“It’s a huge change from Miami, but I love it,” she said. “When I was in Miami, people would tell me I was a D.C. person. I would try to have political conversations, and they’re like, ‘We’re on the beach, man, relax.’ ”
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