Onward and Upward: Mark Libell

Age: 29
Hometown: Florence, Ala.
Marital status/children: Single
Last job: Senior legislative assistant, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.)
First job: Bag boy at the neighborhood supermarket
Most unusual job: “Unloading phonebooks off a truck for delivery. That lasted all of two days.”
Most embarrassing moment: “Does high school count?”
Management style: “I preach ownership. From the most junior to the most senior person in the room, treat your issues the same way. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.”
Number of cups of coffee you drink per day: None
Religion: Christian
Favorite political TV show or movie: “The West Wing”
Most inspirational figure: “Personally, my father. Politically, Vice President Biden. It’s been a running joke with all my friends how in the tank I am for him.”
Dream job (not including present one): White House chief of staff
College: Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn.
Graduate School: University of Alabama School of Law
Passion outside work: “Good movies, live music and the Dallas Cowboys.”
 Claim to fame: “Part of a solid one-two combination on the Maryville College men’s tennis team with Chris Hixon, Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) counsel over at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Unfortunately, he’s a better staffer than tennis player.”

Mark Libell wrote his undergraduate thesis on Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, and a day after graduating from Maryville College, he and his friend and tennis partner Chris Hixon drove to Washington to start their political job search. During his first day handing out résumés on Capitol Hill, he saw the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and knew he was on the right career path.

Libell spent the next six months sleeping on Hixon’s floor until he landed a job in Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) office.

He settled into the congressional staffer’s lifestyle, but meanwhile, Libell had a dueling interest in law school. He decided to rip himself away from his beloved Congress for two years to become an attorney.

Yes, two years. He did what other law students might consider unthinkable — Libell crammed three years’ worth of class into two years so that he could return to Capitol Hill quickly.

Being in Alabama, where he went to law school, instead of Washington in 2006 when the Democrats regained control of Congress “was one of the most painful things,” he said.

Post-law school, Libell first worked for Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) before moving to Rep. Linda Sanchez’s (D-Calif.) office.

Libell said he will handle Sanchez’s work on the Ways and Means Committee.

“Everything ties into tax, so Ways and Means gives you an opportunity to be heard on any issue,” he said. “[Sanchez] is new to the committee — she really wants to make an impression, and to feel like you can contribute to that is exciting to me."