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 WilsonDemocrats applaud move to put Tubman on bill Pelosi: ‘We must and we will bring back’ Nigerian schoolgirls Overnight Regulation: Labor chief grilled on overtime, retirement rules 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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