Elizabeth Heng

Elizabeth Heng, at 25, had already helped open 23 T-Mobile franchises in California when she decided to move across the country to a city where she knew no one. 

She felt that policies coming from Washington were not supportive of her business, which she ran with her brothers. 

“I was like, ‘I’m 25 years old and a small business owner,’ yet I felt sort of attacked,” she says. 

Her solution? “I bought a one-way ticket to Washington, D.C.”

Four years later, Heng is director of outreach and protocol for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, planning events for visiting dignitaries and accompanying members on travel. 

But upon first arriving in Washington, it was not always certain she would land on her feet. In fact, one of the first problems was her shoes. 

“I’m pretty girly, and Californian,” she says. “I don’t own a pair of closed-toed shoes at all, and it was like snowmageddon was happening.” 

Not knowing that the Capitol South metro stop existed, Heng walked from Union Station to the House office buildings through the snow in heels to drop off her resume with every member of the California delegation. 

She was staying with a woman she had met days earlier at the Orange Bowl in Florida, where they were both cheering on their alma mater, Stanford University. Within a month, however, she had landed a job with Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.). 

Now she’s settled into D.C., the job, and cooking, reading, running and yoga, but new pursuits can always pop up. 

“I’ll try almost anything once,” she says.

On a six-week trip through Southeast Asia with two friends after college, the group explored roadside food stands. 

“We literally tried every single thing from the whole cart,” Heng says. “Some of the food was delicious, some of it was like I have no idea what kind of animal this is. Like, is this an animal? I don’t know what this is.”

Travel is one of Heng’s keys to trying new things. So, what’s one of her favorite activities? “I buy plane tickets.” 

— Peter Sullivan

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