Capital Living

50 Most Beautiful People for 2011

Send nominations to 50MB@thehill.com. Please include the person’s name, place of employment, contact information and a photo. Those eligible include members of Congress, congressional staffers, lobbyists and anyone else who works regularly on Capitol Hill. All nominations are kept confidential.


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Keokuk, Iowa
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

It’s no accident that Amy Cheng exhibits model-like poise in front of a camera. Growing up, her family would spend time outside their Chinese restaurant taking photos of one another in a park, and later on, Cheng would pose for her younger sister as she was getting started in her fashion photography studies.

The legislative correspondent for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also waded into beauty pageants while in college, but mostly to advance her platform of civic engagement and community service. 

{mosads}“I’m always trying new things,” she says.

Those aren’t empty words. Cheng was the first person in her family to go to college — she graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a business degree — and from then on she continued to look for different experiences.

Cheng first came to Washington in fall 2008 for a White House internship. She was assigned to the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, a good fit for her passion for outreach and volunteer work.

“I know this sounds kind of cliché, but doing community service, you learn how to love others,” Cheng says.

She then moved to Guiyang, China, for a couple of months to work at a therapeutic recreation center for foster children.

Since getting a job in Grassley’s office last year, Cheng has settled into Washington life, attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church, volunteering with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now and running on the National Mall and the Capital Crescent Trail. Not surprisingly, she’s picked up a “new thing”: couponing.

A while ago Cheng saw a stack of coupons at the checkout counter in her library and decided she’d cut them out. She has now lowered her monthly grocery bill to $50 and is hoping to cut it to $30 in the future. Will we soon see her on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing”?

“I think [that’s] a little bit too much,” she says.

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 25
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Grace Johnson, a scheduler for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), loves Washington for its diverse intellectual climate.

“I meet people from all over the world,” said Johnson, who is a fan of embassy parties. “It’s a bunch of nerds all congregated in one city.”

{mosads}The Middle Tennessee State University graduate first came to the nation’s capital as an intern for the International Association of Women Judges and to live with her younger sister. She has since found herself on Capitol Hill and buys into the serious, workaholic atmosphere, comparing it to a college campus.

Her love for all things international led her to live in Europe. She also volunteered for three months at a Mozambique orphanage that had no running water or electricity.

“I just figured there was never going to be another opportunity like that again,” Johnson said.

Asked how she maintains her looks, the congressional aide says a winning personality is the key.

“I think being nice is being pretty,” Johnson said. “Having a bad attitude makes you unattractive.”

Johnson would know, having won the superlative “most sincere” in high school. 

The congressional aide, who says she’s “a shade” under 6-foot-1, appreciates her height.

“It’s a huge benefit in the Metro, because you’re out of armpit level. You can get oxygen up there,” she said.

Beyond traveling, Johnson has interesting hobbies, whether it’s hiking or swing-dancing.

“It’s fast-paced, it’s fun and it’s cute to watch,” Johnson said.

She also likes to listen to audiobooks while she cleans, with a famous contrarian thinker as one of her favorite authors.

“I love Malcolm Gladwell. I would marry him if he was available,” Johnson said.

—Kevin Bogardus


alt

alt

Age: 28

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

The second time’s the charm for Tim Torres and Washington, D.C. After a brief stint right out of college interning for former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) in 2004, Torres left the city for several years to explore the world.

“I probably moved five or six different times,” he said. “I was doing consulting, contracting work. I knew I didn’t want a 9-to-5 [job].”

{mosads}Torres taught English in El Salvador before moving to Houston to work for a consulting firm.

Jobs in Hawaii and Virginia Beach, Va., and a backpacking trip through China followed before the globe-trotter realized it was time to put down roots and return to Washington.

“For two and a half years, I didn’t have the traditional job,” he said. “And then I missed the structure, the health insurance; so I got back into it.”

Now a deputy information technology director for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the travel lover keeps life exciting with weekend trips and community activities.

The son of missionaries, Torres plays guitar regularly in his church and organizes neighborhood dinners with his six housemates in D.C.’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.

As for maintaining his muscular build, he exercises three days a week – mainly with weights – and frequently bikes to work.

“I am very adamant about personal health,” he said. “It’s important to work out and just stay healthy.”

When asked if he had any plans to leave Washington again for opportunities and places unknown, Torres described himself as a changed man.

“I’m more OK with it this time around,” he said. “I’m older, so I’m not as restless. I kind of want to buy a house. It’s weird.”

– Debbie Siegelbaum


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Gaffney, S.C.
Political party: Nonpartisan
Relationship status: Single

Jenna Gibson is a formidable force when she takes to the football field.

As a student at Clemson University, this Fox News producer played quarterback in her co-ed league, even leading her team to the semifinals one year.

{mosads}“The girls were just as, if not more, competitive than the guys,” Gibson said, her voice lilting with a gentle Southern drawl. “There were a few broken fingers here and there.”

Shocking as it might seem, given her petite frame and ebullient smile, for Gibson, taking up football was almost second nature.

Living in small-town South Carolina “was like ‘Varsity Blues,’ ” said Gibson, who always played sports and cheered on her family’s alma mater. 

“My family bleeds orange,” she said. “[I] grew up at Clemson games … just surrounded by it, and developed an inherent love for it.” 

The sports-management major even once had hopes of turning her passion into a career. 

“I thought I wanted to be the ESPN GameDay girl or some sort of sports announcer,” Gibson said, though she loves her current spot at Fox. 

Gibson is still gung-ho as ever about her beloved Tigers — “during college football season, it’s all about college football season,” she said — but she happily passes the off-season by playing golf and tennis, and hitting the gym four to five times per week.

“Especially [since I] sit all day, the last thing I want to do is go home and sit more … With an athletic background, it’s natural to want to be healthy and active,” Gibson said.

Despite this wholesome attitude, Gibson also confessed to kicking back just like everybody else. On the weekends, the book-club member loves to read, eat and “lay low and watch movies with [my] roommates,” she said. 

“And I always think that chocolate is a wonderful supplement,” she added with a laugh. 

— Becki Steinberg


alt

alt

Age: 33

Hometown: Manteno, Ill.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: In a relationship

Call him the Tom Cruise of Congress — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) flies planes, fights wars and wrestles criminals to the ground.

Kinzinger, an Air Force pilot, surprises no one in a sit-down interview in his Longworth office when he reveals one of his passions: “I love flying.”

{mosads}The freshman lawmaker followed in the footsteps of his father — a pilot — getting his license upon graduating from college. After Sept. 11, 2001, Kinzinger decided to join the military.

The result: three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

But also: a girlfriend, and lots of buddies.

Kinzinger and his girlfriend met in pilot training, became good friends and started dating about a year ago. She’s still in active duty in the Air Force and is stationed in Charleston, S.C.

Many of the friends Kinzinger made in the Air Force have been hitting him up for visits in Washington, D.C. — so much so that the new congressman is realizing his personal time is dwindling.

“Every week [I] get probably about 2 or 3 people who say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in D.C. next week, so how about we just meet up?’ ” he said.

Kinzinger stays fit by running and weightlifting, but nothing could have prepared him for the physical test of a lifetime when, in 2006, he wrestled away the knife of a man who had cut a woman’s throat on a street in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Red Cross later named him Hero of the Year.

The incident “just really drove home to me that life is about something bigger than yourself,” he said. “This is what I try to do in politics — it’s not about earning a paycheck, it’s about doing something good that you believe in.”

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 24

Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Girlfriend (Remy, his college sweetheart)

These days life may be “beautiful” for Zach Mallove, but his start on Capitol Hill wasn’t quite as pretty. Back in May 2010, on his first day on the job as a legislative aide for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mallove made a classic Metro mistake: “I was in Columbia Heights and I went north towards Fort Totten, instead of south.” After hopping in a cab and rushing into the office 45 minutes late, Mallove feared his government gig would be over before it began, saying, “Obviously, not the best first impression.” 

Luckily for Mallove, he kept his job, and life in the capital city has gone a bit more smoothly since then. Now that he has a firm grip of the subway system, Mallove heads to The Gibson or Bar Pilar around U Street to let loose.

{mosads}But he’s also careful that those calories from nights out get burned. Basketball, soccer, football, even rugby – Mallove says he loves them all. 

“I definitely like to work out at least four or five times a week, either the gym or running,” he said.

He also completed his latest fitness feat in April after making it to the finish line in the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

One other place you can catch Mallove racing to is the office. He admitted his morning routine may not be the speediest.

“It takes me longer than my girlfriend,” he said. But since that first-day fiasco, Mallove says he’s been on time for work every day.

– Judy Kurtz


alt

alt

Age: 24

Hometown: Reston, Va.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Kalinda Stephenson likes to stand out. And she’s aiming for big things.

Stephenson wears brightly colored outfits that give away her Hispanic heritage. She continually brings in different regional cuisines for lunch. And she’s aiming to be U.S. ambassador, preferably to El Salvador, where she still has family.

{mosads}With shiny, jet-black hair, Stephenson is the daughter of two career U.S. Foreign Service diplomats, and she inherited more than a bit of their wanderlust and people skills. She has lived in Brazil, Russia and El Salvador.

“I like to think that I can talk to almost any person and, by the end of the conversation, they feel like we’re family,” said Stephenson, who works for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), focusing on his role as co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Stephenson has a penchant for language — she already is at an advanced level in her graduate school Arabic classes. And she’s not afraid to dream big: She’s hoping to be stationed with the Foreign Service somewhere in the Middle East within the next couple of years. The idea doesn’t seem far-fetched.

Stephenson also has the looks and the charm to go along with the brains. She says she keeps her hair shiny by using a family recipe: She mashes up an avocado with olive oil, rubs the mixture into her hair and lets it sit under a shower cap for an hour. When she washes it out, it shines like a freshly waxed limousine.

—Jordy Yager


alt

alt

Age: 39
Hometown: Castlewood, S.D.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Married

In the sea of white-haired men who dominate Congress, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) stands out. Not because she could make a potato sack look fashionable, but because she traveled a different path to Washington — one that included learning how to drive a semi-truck and a combine as a teenager and holding her own with the work that needed to be done on the family ranch.

{mosads}“I was expected to help with the chores, even though they were tough and they were often dirty ones,” Noem said earlier this summer in a series of coordinated floor speeches designed to highlight the women of the House GOP. “I grew up thinking that I could do anything that the boys could do, and that way of thinking has certainly stayed with me.”

The freshman lawmaker got elected in part by touting her real-life experience. She interrupted her college coursework to help run her family’s ranch after her father died unexpectedly, and was involved in running the family restaurant. Noem has raised Angus cattle, shown quarter horses, run a hunting operation and headed an insurance agency with her husband, Bryon. Last fall’s campaign, in which she defeated Democratic incumbent and 50 Most Beautiful People alumna Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, was rife with images of Noem with gently mussed hair near a bale of hay or leaning against a fence post in the pasture.

Noem quickly became a star in Washington, having been asked by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his advisers to join the GOP leadership team before even getting into town.

“I didn’t run because I was a woman, and I didn’t expect people to vote for me because I was a woman,” she said in the June floor speech. “I worked to earn each vote [by] talking about what was important in this country.”

Noem declined to participate in an interview for this feature.

–Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 25

Hometown: Birmingham, England
Political party: “Not Republican”
Relationship status: Single

You realize quickly that Carla Coley is less inhibited than most when, 10 minutes after you’ve met, she’s handing over her sandwich and offering a bite.

It turns out that unconventional is a running theme.

The buoyant scheduler for Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) was born in England and spent her high school years in Puerto Rico. She’s intrigued by politics but has a background in literature and foreign languages, and she shuns the gym in favor of volunteering at Children’s Hospital.

{mosads}“I guess I’m not like a typical [Capitol] Hill staffer,” she says without noticing the understatement.

It was Coley’s Puerto Rican ties that attracted her to Serrano, who hails from the island’s west coast. Only afterwards did she discover there was another thread linking the two: a deep infatuation with Frank Sinatra.

Well-traveled (she mentions tours in Italy and Istanbul) and well-read (Nabokov’s Lolita is her favorite), Coley says she’s come to appreciate the “different pockets of culture” in Washington — spots that too often go unseen.

“It’s a shame that when people talk about Washington, it’s so reductive,” she says.

Almost four years into her Capitol Hill stint, Coley says she’s still often star-struck — but learning to manage.

“Before, I felt like I was just walking around in a sense of general awe. Now I feel like I’m a part of it,” she says. “If you’re in a constant sense of awe, you’re not going to get anything done.”

For Coley, a typical Saturday night is decidedly untypical: She often gathers with friends to listen to jazz on NPR and mix up a specialty drink — concocted just for the occasion — called the “Constantino Brewmidi,” a play on the 19th century painter (Brumidi) whose frescos adorn the underside of the Capitol dome.

Her take on romance also is off the beaten path.

“It’s on a list, but there’s no rush to get there,” Coley says. “It’s easier to fly by the seat of your pants if it’s just you.”

—Mike Lillis


alt

alt

Age: 28

Hometown: Goshen, Ind.
Political party: Nonpartisan
Relationship status: Married

Kate Bolduan is happy to dissuade anyone who thinks television news is nothing but glamour.

The CNN correspondent says the congressional beat has been basically nonstop since she got to Capitol Hill a couple of months ago, with first the scandal erupting around former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and then the debt-ceiling showdown.

{mosads}“There’s definitely never a dull moment,” Bolduan says. “It’s been, boom, one big story after another. 

“It’s sort of like Murphy’s Law,” she says. “If you think nothing’s going to happen, something usually will.”

With all the running around, Bolduan jokes that she sometimes barely has a spare moment to get herself ready to go on camera — or, as she jokingly puts it, to throw on the uniform and the mask.

“I think the viewers cut us some slack,” the Indiana native says. “If it comes down to making one final phone call or putting on lipstick, I’ll make that one final phone call every time.”

A George Washington University graduate, Bolduan says she wasn’t necessarily looking to come back to the nation’s capital when CNN came calling. At the time she was working at a television station in North Carolina.

“It was more of a happy happenstance,” she says.

Back in Washington for several years now, Bolduan says she keeps low-key when she’s not chasing stories on Capitol Hill, often staying in with her husband, Michael Gershenson, or working out to relieve stress. She also does her best to see her three sisters, who are spread out among Colorado, Illinois and Indiana.

At home, Bolduan says she enjoys cooking — or “trying to cook” — and that she and Gershenson are particularly fond of a newly acquired grill.

“We’re into pretending we’re some kind of professional chefs,” she says.

— Bernie Becker


alt

alt

Age: 24

Hometown: Bayville, N.J.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Mike Goscinski has an unusual item to thank for helping pave his path to Washington – a dirty martini. 

At 18, the St. John’s University graduate lied in order to snag his first bartending job in New York by claiming he knew how to mix drinks. 

“Luckily, the owner of the bar asked me if I knew how to make a dirty martini, and I knew how,” he explained.

{mosads}Goscinski’s knack for aiding others’ alcohol intake came in handy again after he graduated from college. He then “decided it was time to find a new city” and headed to Washington without a job or a place of his own. 

After crashing at a friend’s apartment, he quickly landed a gig behind the bar at the Ugly Mug Pub near Eastern Market, as well as an internship at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Just because he’s now a legislative aide for Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) doesn’t mean he’s given up keeping thirsty Washingtonians happy. He still tends bar on weekends at the Ugly Mug. “I don’t sleep a lot,” he admits. 

When not holding down a full-time job or serving up drinks, Goscinski keeps busy batting for the House softball league. His tips for looking good might not be for everyone. 

“No sleep, a lot of Jameson,” he said with a laugh.

While he’s not sure what his “life plan” is just yet, Goscinski joked that one thing’s for certain. 

“When I make my millions,” he said, “I’ll still bartend one or two nights a week.”

–Judy Kurtz


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Oakley, Idaho
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Mandi Critchfield is not your usual Republican aide. For one thing, Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) press secretary is a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). For another, she’s an enthusiastic Star Wars and Star Trek fan — as evidenced by her choice of a Star Wars T-shirt for The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People photo shoot.

She grew up as a potato farmer on her family’s 3,000-acre spread in southern Idaho. Her hometown has only about 2,000 people; recreation back home is snowmobiling, ice fishing and shooting, but only targets.

{mosads}“Just because I want to protect our Second Amendment rights doesn’t mean I want to hurt innocent animals,” she said.

Critchfield is warm and personable and not afraid to break what she calls the Senate’s “caste system,” where legislative assistants are sometimes loath to talk to interns.

She’s lived in Washington for almost three years, which could be a crossroads.

“I’ve heard if you’re here for three years or longer, you get stuck here for another 10,” she said.

She sees herself returning to the West someday, where mountains are really mountains, unlike the gentle Shenandoah hills.

And we don’t have the humidity,” she adds.

Her beauty tips include Omega-3 pills, which she said are “amazing for skin and hair” and wheatgrass pills.

Critchfield went to Brigham Young University and prefers Utah’s more formal dating rituals to the casual scene in D.C.

“In Utah a boy would pick you up and take you to dinner and a movie,” she said. “I think boys should take girls on real dates.”

She’s really looking forward to the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. So if you’re thinking about asking her out, there’s your chance.

—Alexander Bolton


alt

alt

Age: 24
Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Adam Bennot may call Washington, D.C., home for now, but his heart and passion lie in Africa. The son of American missionaries, Bennot was born and raised in South Africa and hopes to return there someday soon.

“I definitely want to go back; I want to work in sub-Saharan Africa in development,” he said.

After attending college at Middle Tennessee State University outside Nashville, Bennot spent 2010 traveling and backpacking through the Pacific Northwest before deciding to stay in the United States to pursue opportunities in government and policy.

{mosads}“I visited D.C. a few times and I really, really loved it,” he said, cracking a warm smile. “I decided if I’m going to stay in the U.S. for the next couple years, it’s going to have to be D.C.”

While his current position as staff assistant for the House Education and Workforce Committee focuses more on domestic issues, that hasn’t lessened Bennot’s interest in international policy.

“I would really love to work for a socially conscious business that invests in emerging economies,” he said. “That, or work for an NGO that does economic development.”

Until then, Bennot enjoys living in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, backpacking outside the city and playing electric guitar.

As for maintaining his fit physique, he regularly hits the gym and makes health a priority.

“I typically work out during my lunch here,” he said, adding that he uses the Rayburn House gym. “I work out probably four times a week and play tennis once a week.

“Stay active and stay healthy and eat right,” he advised when asked about beauty tips. “I guess that’s kind of inward beauty,” he said, showing that big smile again.

—Debbie Siegelbaum


alt

alt

Age: 37
Hometown: New Orleans
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

The congressional Democratic baseball team has a new star in freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond. The New Orleans native began his sports career playing in the T-ball leagues at the playground across from his childhood home and eventually reached the collegiate level as a center fielder at Morehouse College.

{mosads}Richmond has relied on sports throughout most of his life: His coaches were his role models after his father died when he was 7, his playing-field network carried him to public office when he first ran for the Louisiana Legislature 11 years ago and his involvement in a New Orleans-based basketball league and Washington-based softball league provide normality as he adjusts to life in Congress. (Richmond plays softball on the National Mall for the team from the Office of the United States Trade Representative.)

He’s given back, too. Richmond has coached youth sports teams since he was 16, and those teams inspired him to pursue a career in politics.

“People always talked about [how] our children are our future; they never put their investment in,” he said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office, freshly changed into a power suit after returning from the Democrats’ early morning baseball practice.

For a team player like Richmond, partisan Washington has been a difficult adjustment — “the lack of cooperation is just frustrating” — but Richmond is focused on doing the same things that have kept him grounded throughout his life. He tries to get back to New Orleans for his Thursday night basketball games, and he attends many youth sporting events, both to show support and touch base with his constituents. And, as a junior member of the Democrats’ ball team, he does much of the grunt work, following coaches’ directions and carrying the equipment.

“I’m not crazy enough to think that this is really about me, because it’s really not,” he said.

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 35
Hometown: Teaneck, N.J.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

Michael Pagan’s job as communications director for Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) requires long hours and hard work, but getting his now-wife — a fellow congressional staffer — to go out on a first date with him was even tougher.

After she repeatedly turned down his requests for coffee or lunch, he had to enlist outside help.

{mosads}“I told the staff assistants every time they saw her going to the bathroom, [instant message] me, let me know so I could run to the bathroom and pretend I was going to the bathroom, too,” he joked. “When she got out, I would be like, ‘Hey, what are you doing here? Can I walk you back to the office?’”

Eventually she acquiesced, and they got married a few months ago.

“She understands the lifestyle,” he said of the travel and long hours they both put into their jobs. “She’s my heart and soul.”

Pagan’s heart also is the reason he stays fit and active. He runs at least three times per week on the orders of his cardiologist to treat a rapid heartbeat, a condition that was diagnosed in his teens.

That heart condition led him to abandon his hopes of joining the military and to pursue government work in Washington to help others and give back.

But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots.

“I’m just a blue-collar boy from New Jersey who works hard and tries to do the right thing,” he said. And he wears that history literally on his sleeve.

Pagan has tattoos covering his arms and back, a hobby that began nearly 20 years ago with the help of a tattoo-artist friend.

When asked how his body art makes him feel around buttoned-down Capitol Hill, Pagan said he used to be self-conscious, but not anymore.

 “I just got over it,” he said. “It’s a part of who I am.”

—Debbie Siegelbaum


alt

alt

Age: 42
Hometown: Chicago
Political party: Democratic 
Relationship status: Single

Who knows how many Capitol Hill staffers have won an Emmy, but count Dena Craig, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-Texas) communications director, has one of them. 

Prior to working for the congresswoman, Craig was a television producer for more than 16 years, working at ESPN and on court shows. The Emmy came while Craig was with the Judge Jeanine Pirro show. 

“That actually is no longer even in syndication, but it doesn’t matter, because we won!” said Craig, a slender brunette with a quick smile. 

{mosads}Craig was a little unsure about her resume when she heard about an opening in Johnson’s office, considering that her background wasn’t heavy on politics. 

“TV resumes look like you can’t keep a job” because it’s common for producers to switch projects frequently, Craig explained. “However, when we talked, [Johnson] got it. It was kind of like a click right away.”

That was more than a year ago. Craig is still getting acclimated to Washington, but she loves it.

“I’m still learning my way around,” she said.

Questioned on matters of the heart, Craig said she looks for a man who treats his mother well.

“I think how a man treats his mother is very indicative of how he’ll treat you,” she said. 

Craig laughed when asked for beauty tips.

“I don’t know if there’s a formula for that,” she said. “I think that’s how somebody sees you.

“I think it’s how you feel about you, how you treat other people, what you decide to do with your life,” Craig said. “I just don’t strictly think that beauty is something that you can just see.”

—Daniel Strauss


alt

alt

Age: 41
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Fitness buff that he is, you won’t find Rep. Michael Grimm joining his colleagues in the trendy P90X training regimen.

“I still do workouts from the ‘70s,” the congressman said during an interview in his office in the Cannon House Office Building. “I’m very traditional, very old-fashioned.”

And in the bodybuilding world, traditional and old-fashioned translates to … Arnold Schwarzenegger-style weightlifting.

{mosads}“I really do think that when you look at all the top bodybuilders in the world, there’s always extreme training techniques that [they take] from Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Grimm said.

The former Marine may be able to execute a floor-rattling clean-and-jerk, but Grimm has yet to master the art of dog training. During the interview, his teacup Yorkshire Terrier puppy, Sebastian, yipped for attention behind a plastic gate that kept him confined to one corner of the congressman’s office.

“No barking,” he said futilely. “You’re in jail.”

Between a new job, a new dog and constant travel, Grimm said he’s still getting his “sea legs” when it comes to life in Congress. He feels he has done a good job of establishing himself in his committee and district work; he’s now on a quest to find work-life balance.

The self-professed “gym rat” hopes to get into a regular exercise and eating schedule and find time to enjoy his hobbies: action movies, nice dinners, shopping for custom clothes at Boyd’s in Philadelphia and boxing.

“If I can get back into a good routine and eating well, that’s going to reflect [on my] doing better at my professional goals,” he said. “Because when I’m at the top of the game, and I hit my stride, I’m consistent with everything — professionally, personally and so on.”

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 45 
Hometown: Boston
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

Michael Collins wasn’t just surprised when he was nominated for The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People List this year. He simply didn’t believe it.

“I got the email, and I was like, ‘This isn’t real,’ ” he said with an infectious laugh. He had to be contacted several times before he realized it was true.

“I’m still kind of a little bit in awe,” said the broad-shouldered chief of staff to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

{mosads}Collins first met Lewis when the lawmaker came to speak during his freshman year at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The two later met again during Collins’s senior year, when he asked the congressman for a letter of recommendation for a job with the Children’s Defense Fund.

Collins didn’t get the job, but he made a valuable contact. 

After receiving his master’s degree in social work from Boston College, he was debating pursuing a Ph.D. in public policy at Brandeis University. It was at that crossroads that he attended a book signing the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was hosting for Lewis.

“I was standing in the corner at the Harvard Club, and the congressman walked in,” Collins said. “And he looks around the room and he sees me, and he comes right over to me and he says, ‘Where have you been?’ and I said, ‘Do you remember me?’ and he said, ‘How could I forget you?’ ”

That meeting eventually led to a job offer as the congressman’s floor assistant. Within a year, Collins was promoted to chief of staff, a role he has held for more than a decade.

In the little spare time he has, Collins enjoys travel, cooking and physical challenges.

“I love the outdoors. I like to run, I like to train,” he said, mentioning a triathlon he is preparing for in September.

“Just enjoy life,” he added of his personal beauty philosophy. If that motto is what keeps Collins looking 20 years younger than his 45 years, it must be working.

—Debbie Siegelbaum


alt

alt

Age: 24 

Hometown: Eagleville, Mo.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: In a relationship

Zach Kinne is almost bashful talking about his hometown, as if too many people have been awed. 

Eagleville, in northwest Missouri, has a population of 321 (not including cattle). Kinne’s high school graduating class had 12 members.  

{mosads}“So far I haven’t found someone on the Hill who graduated in a class smaller than that,” he laughed. “Well, not yet.”

Kinne’s family has a cow-and-calf operation and a feedlot in Eagleville. His first job was working at a local livestock auction. 

He made his start on Capitol Hill about a year ago in the office of retired Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.). Now, as the “token aggie” on staff with Bond’s successor, Roy Blunt (R), he’s preparing for the 2012 farm bill. 

“I always knew I would be involved in agriculture in some way,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to seeing how that bill moves through the process.” 

Kinne hopes eventually to work at the intersection of agriculture and international development. 

But for now, he said he’s enjoying life in Washington, where he stays in shape with “whatever people are doing” — pickup basketball, hiking in Virginia or sometimes frisbee. 

He’s also come to love the gym, where you can find him most mornings. 

“It’s part of the routine now. D.C.’s a pretty fit city — you can tell that exercise helps people de-stress,” he said.  

Kinne hasn’t explored one hobby — music — here as much as he’d like. 

“I heard there’s this group of ag staffers that plays bluegrass at some bar on H Street every once in a while. But so far I haven’t found someone to play music with here,” he said. 

His instrument? The fiddle: a detail that, he laughed, “sometimes you share, sometimes you don’t share.” 

“It’s fun every once in a while just to joke about it,” he said. “I embrace it.” 

– Elise Viebeck


alt

alt

Age: 22
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Ill.
Political Party: Republican
Relationship status: “Mingling — not single, not in a relationship.”

Alyssa Palisi came to Washington to be a staff assistant to Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), and she’s ended up a softball coach.

Palisi organizes “Where My Pitches At?,” a team composed of the staffs of Renacci and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio).

{mosads}A former high-school and travel-team softball player, she says her chief of staff assigned her the role of coach.

But this could be her last season at the team’s helm.

“I like to show up and play, but having to coordinate everybody is very difficult,” she said. “That’s kind of the fun of it, though. You have to work with people that you may or may not get along with.”

Her solution to any softball field drama: just send the players out and let them have fun.

Palisi took that cue from her boss, Renacci, who she says is nice to everyone when reaching across the aisle. Her office even coordinated a bipartisan happy hour recently with the office of Rep. John Carney (D-Del.).

Off the field, Palisi pursues her own passions. These days, she’s busy looking for the best chicken wings in D.C., after having developed a taste for the popular appetizer while a student at DePaul University in Chicago. 

“Every night there was a cheap wing-and-beer deal,” she explains. “It became the food of my choice.”

So far she gives the thumbs up to Bullfeathers and Capitol Lounge on Capitol Hill and Redline in Chinatown. 

Also a fan of golf, Palisi got excited when she heard from a friend that the Washington area is home to a Top Golf, a driving range-and-bar venue with locations around the country.

To maintain her looks, Palisi said it comes down to eating right and working out occasionally.

“Everyone can find one thing about themselves that is considered to be beautiful,” she said. “My tip would be to flaunt what you feel makes you beautiful. Confidence is everything.”

—Christopher Goins


alt

alt

Age: 32
Hometown: Los Angeles
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

Amelia Wang is cheerful, gracious, winsome — and totally into blood sports.

The 32-year-old Los Angeles native began tae kwon do classes in the fourth grade and, in more recent years, has moved into the even fiercer realm of kickboxing.

“I was always picked last in team sports, so I gravitated to the martial arts,” says Wang, the chief of staff for Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.). “I’m totally into it.”

{mosads}Her interest in the sport, Wang says, extends even to the ultimate-fighting bouts on cable television. But she’s also quick to draw a line regarding her own experience: She hasn’t fought competitively — at least not yet.

“It’s a hard choice, because I don’t want to get my nose broken,” she says regretfully. “I kind of want my face to stay the way it is.”

When she’s not sparring, Wang uses her downtime trying “to relax and detach from this thing as much as I can,” she says, pointing to her BlackBerry.

A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied psychology and sociology, Wang jumped directly into the high-stress world of politics. She ran a district office for Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) before moving to Washington in 2009 to lead Chu’s team.

“I’ve always had the position of being a type A,” she says. “I didn’t take any breaks.”

Although she misses the cheap ethnic food of Los Angeles (“Chinese is the biggest challenge”), Wang says she’s come to appreciate life in Washington — particular the seasonal weather.

“As much as Snowmageddon was not fun, the fact that D.C. has four seasons has been great,” she says, happily noting the need for “cute winter coats.”

“You can actually rock that stuff here, because you need it,” she says.

Wang says the focus on her career is largely the reason she’s single. But there’s another reason lurking.

“I’m also extremely picky, and I’m still holding out for the perfect guy,” she says.

“And I believe he’s out there.”

– Mike Lillis


alt

alt

Age: 25
Hometown: Bowie, Md.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

In her college days, Tiffany Williams was much more interested in the human body than the body politic.

“I was going to try to do a pre-med track but … that got thrown out the window,” said the former biology and psychology student, who has now fully embraced the world of politics. Williams is an aide to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

{mosads}How did Williams make the switch? She characterizes it as a happy twist of fate, mostly involving her hometown’s proximity to the nation’s capital. 

“Bowie is right near D.C. … I just applied to work with Rep. Castor and ended up loving it,” she explained, as though she had just walked out her front door one morning and was surprised to find herself standing in the Capitol.

But her broad, bright smile and excited laughter reflect the attitude of a person who is entirely contented with her career’s new direction. Williams’s enthusiasm for her work gives her an air of sureness that makes it hard to believe she’s not precisely where she had always intended to be.

But Williams isn’t all about work. When she’s not on Capitol Hill, she can often be found in the dance studio. Dance is a lifelong passion for Williams, who has experimented with several styles over the years. Starting with ballet as a young girl, Williams’s tastes evolved through jazz-funk to classic jazz dance, her current style of choice. For her, it’s all about having fun and expressing herself while getting in shape.

But her No. 1 beauty tip is quite simple. 

“Have a passion for what you do and exude confidence,” she said. “If you’re happy, it will show.” 

And it does.

–Jake Interrante


alt

alt

Age: 40
Hometown: Miami
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Married

The second-youngest member of Congress’s upper chamber, Marco Rubio is to the Senate in 2011 what Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was in 2010: dashing and different.

{mosads}Rubio rode the Tea Party wave to Washington and — if political prognosticators are correct — could continue to surf right into even higher office. In a city of hundreds of “rising stars,” many Washington insiders are placing their bets on this young, conservative Hispanic lawmaker.

The Florida native’s telegenic smile doesn’t hurt. He seems to have the charisma that many of his colleagues can only fake.

“He’s the only guy I know on the scene today who can make grown men cry,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told The Wall Street Journal last fall.

Another commonality he shares with many grown men is his love for football — and not the kind from his parents’ native Cuba. Rubio began his college career at the now-defunct Tarkio College in Missouri on a football scholarship, and, according to the St. Petersburg Times, started most days perusing ESPN’s website in search of NFL news. His football obsession even carried over into his love life; his wife, Jeanette, is a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

Rubio wasn’t always such a big deal. When he first took up the speakership in the Florida House of Representatives in 2007, the Times noted, the lieutenant governor thought he looked so young that she mistook him for an aide and ordered him to make photocopies.

Rubio declined to participate in an interview for this feature.

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 23
Hometown: Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fla.
Political party: Centrist
Relationship status: “Not single and very happy”

It turns out you can’t totally take the girl away from the beach. The sand of Megan Howard’s native Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fla., is never far away from her, as she keeps a bit of it on her desk.

“I’m a beach bum, no doubt about it,” Howard says. “I miss the beach every day.”

{mosads}But don’t let her seemingly natural Florida tan fool you — this isn’t your stereotypical beach bum. How many fun-in-the-sun types major in Chinese and minor in business and communication? That’s what Howard did at the University of Florida.

Her studies paid off, helping her catch on with the House Armed Services Committee. She began as an intern, and is now the full committee’s staff assistant. In that position, she directly supports the panel’s deputy staff director, general counsel, majority counsel, legislative operations director and budget and policy directors.

Howard blushes deeply and her radiant smile turns a tad nervous when she talks about herself. But the poised 23-year-old turns composed and serious when discussing her work with the Armed Services panel.

“I’m extremely lucky to have this as my first job out of college,” Howard says.

She proudly offers up that she has become an expert on the laborious process the panel follows to produce its annual Defense Authorization Act, as well as all things parliamentary procedure.

Howard considers herself a centrist politically, and credits her time on Capitol Hill with teaching her to “question and scrutinize” things so she can “really know about an issue before taking a stance.”

To stay fit and healthy, it’s all about “living a balanced life,” Howard says.

She describes herself as “an avid” yogi, but has no other special health and beauty secrets outside of the basics.

“I just try to smile and be happy,” she says.

—John T. Bennett


alt

alt

Age: 24
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political party: Democratic 
Relationship status: Single

The original plan for Frances Agosto, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi’s (D-Puerto Rico) scheduler, was to study theater. But she landed an internship in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office and discovered that she loved the political theater of Washington, D.C. Agosto eventually made the move to Pierluisi’s office. 

{mosads}“If you’d asked me five years ago if I saw myself here in five years, I would’ve said, ‘Not at all,’ ” said Agosto, a confident, cheerful Puerto Rico native with long black hair. “Now I wouldn’t … choose anywhere else.”

Agosto, who is fluent in Spanish, is quick to smile and laugh. 

“People say I sound ethnic,” said Agosto, who has a slight accent. “I don’t think so at all.”

Agosto likes to keep things lively by acting on the spur of the moment. 

“I don’t really plan my days that much because … I like spontaneous things,” she said. Agosto said she loves music and visiting Washington’s art galleries. 

“I’m a huge Beatles freak — I can mention any fact, anything about their music, their CDs, their lives,” she said. “I’m obsessed with Paul McCartney.” 

Agosto is one of the lucky few who can eat as much as she wants and somehow not gain weight.

“I eat a lot. I eat way too much,” Agosto said. “I love to eat and I stay skinny, for some reason.”

Agosto loves Puerto Rican cuisine and all kinds of other food — except seafood.

“Yeah, it’s ironic,” the island native said. 

Agosto is considering graduate school in the near future and hopes to one day go into law.

In terms of love, valor is a must for Agosto. 

“I need to be with someone that I can admire for something and [who’s] brave, because I’ve been very brave in life,” Agosto said. “I need someone who’s right there with me — and who also enjoys to eat as much as I love to eat.”

—Daniel Strauss


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

He may have figured out the Washington political scene, but deep down, Rich Counts was a video game master first. 

“I love playing with friends and trash-talking back and forth,” says the EOP Group lobbyist, who still competes against his old college buddies. He prefers “sports games, Madden Football or college hoops games.”

{mosads}Growing up in St. Thomas — and spending summers in Michigan — the former D.C. Young Republicans chairman says his childhood was filled with basketball, soccer and a circle of friends that “was like a fraternity.”

It was not until Counts moved to New Orleans to study political economy at Tulane University that his love of public affairs first blossomed.

“When I got to D.C., [my interest in politics] just steamrolled slowly. … Suddenly, I was the [DCYR] chairman, and I was like, ‘How did this happen?’” Counts laughs, exuding youthful energy despite his sober suit and gravelly voice.

Politics took him far away from home, but the move to Washington was not a tough adjustment for the gregarious Counts.

“I’ve been a lot of places and around a lot of people,” he says. “That’s why I love D.C. — it’s such an international and national city.”

To meet as many people as possible, Counts frequents local happy hours, especially “First Fridays,” a monthly networking event for young Republicans that he leads.

The former high school athlete loves to stay active by playing basketball with his friends, hitting local courts as often as he can.

Yet Counts’s secret to keeping fit is far less physical. “Enjoy life,” he says, “How you feel about yourself and your life is projected in your physical appearance.”

Plus, when it comes to looking good, Counts says it never hurts to have some help.

“Consult with your girlfriends. My best looks come from what girls tell me.” 

–Becki Steinberg


alt

alt

Age: 28
Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Girlfriend (“She says I’m off limits.”)

 Adam Kohnstamm doesn’t like being held back. Even in times of present danger, like when he was 10 feet away from a pack of 400-lb. mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

“I wasn’t scared of the gorillas because I felt really calm with them, but I knew that they were in charge,” said Kohnstamm, a legislative aide to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “The silverback went from being lazy and napping to a full-on sprint [at another gorilla] 15, 20 feet in front of us. I was just awestruck. It was the most amazing thing.”

{mosads}Kohnstamm’s laid-back and open-minded demeanor immediately puts you at ease. “I’m a really mellow guy. Not much gets under my skin or ruffles me very much,” he said. “I definitely get that from my dad, for sure — being just very even-keeled and taking life as it comes at you, one step at a time.”

The Minnesota native says he makes a concerted effort to be well-rounded and “is always looking to experience life in a new or different way.” Baseball, softball, biking, cooking, camping and concerts at D.C.’s 9:30 Club are just a few of his hobbies. He also loves traveling: in addition to his adventure in Uganda, he’s been to India, China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica and most of the 50 U.S. states.

As his low-key outlook might suggest, Kohnstamm doesn’t put much effort into his appearance; in fact, despite his perfectly coiffed dark brown hair, he says he doesn’t even have a comb or a brush.

“Honestly, part of it is I just don’t care. I don’t feel like life is a beauty contest,” he said. “Life’s too short to be caught up with how you look. It’s so much easier to just be yourself and treat people with respect.”

—Cristina Marcos


alt

alt

Age: 30
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
Political party: Independent
Relationship status: Married

Josh Grossman lives an adventurous life, which conforms to his fitness philosophy of “staying active.”

His idea of active might not be the same as others, however. The 30-year-old has climbed Mount Rainier, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Whitney; has been to 48 out of the 50 states (he’s missing Kansas and Iowa); and has ventured throughout Europe, the Middle East and Central America.

{mosads}Fans of his athletic physique might not want to follow his diet, either.

“I lived off street meat in Europe,” said Grossman, who works for Meridian Hill Strategies.

He recalls working in Alaska, when he spent a week stuck in a blizzard eating ramen noodles and cake mix.

“The mosquitoes in Alaska were so bad,” he noted. “You would eat 15-20 mosquitoes at every meal, easily.”

Not only that, as part of the international group The Explorers Club, he’s eaten several exotic meals, including maggots and scorpion.

“The maggots were not good, and they got stuck in your teeth,” he said. “People who’ve had snake say it tastes like chicken — it does. … And scorpions have a weird crunch.”

He then admits a bit wistfully, “I missed out on the [meal] where they served tarantula.”

As for his go-to food, he calls himself an “inventive sandwich guy,” coming up with a new version every day.

Grossman is also modest. When someone points out that his lifestyle would make him a good contender for shows like “The Amazing Race” and “Fear Factor,” he responds: “Those people are too tough for me.”

For now, this newlywed — he got married two months ago — is happily settled in Washington.

“The dream would be to be in D.C. and be able to travel in a way that meets my explorer needs,” he said.

As for his next adventure, he and his wife are planning a belated honeymoon, most likely in Morocco and Malta.

And did we mention he’s modest?

When asked about his looks, he muses: “I don’t think I’m a natural beauty. My wife, she’s a natural beauty.”

—Emily Goodin


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Avondale, Ariz.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Cassiopeia Sonn, a staffer for Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), doesn’t mind getting into the policy weeds.

“One thing I am sort of known for in the office is my attention to detail,” she said. “I just love diving into legislation and knowing every section, which is not necessary sometimes.” 

{mosads}Sonn has an undergraduate degree in physiology and chemistry and also a law degree, both from the University of Arizona-Tucson.

She says her comfort with minutiae comes more from studying at the molecular level in science than her background in law.

The half-Korean, half-German Arizonan has been working up the ladder in Washington since she arrived on Capitol Hill two years ago. She began as an intern for former Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). Now she is legislative counsel. 

“Because I am from Arizona and the issues that affect Arizona are so near and dear to my heart, I feel like [working for an Arizona lawmaker is] something that I would do in my free time,” she said. “It’s sort of like combining pleasure and business.”

For fun she participates in “social sports.”

“I was in a bocce ball league, and right now I’m in a kickball league. I played dodge ball,” Sonn said. “Even though I’m not very athletic, it is just a fun way to unwind.”

Walking around at dusk is fun for her, too. She’s the next-door neighbor of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whom she once bumped into when she was coming from the gym.

Sonn is a big proponent of working out to stay healthy. But she admits to not being a healthy eater.

“I think it’s perfectly OK to eat bad food as long as you work it out in the evenings” she said.

—Christopher Goins


alt

alt

Age: 30
Hometown: Boston
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

Manoucheka Attime says confidence is the key to beauty. If you’re confident, everything falls into place, she says.

She works as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) correspondence director, supervising a team of seven staff assistants who handle about 60,000 constituent emails each week.

{mosads}Attime, who used to work at the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, has the poise of a woman who knows the importance of image, and she likes to lend her image-making skills to friends in her free time.

“When my friends are running off to a last-minute party, I play make-up artist for them because I find it so fun,” she says. “Mascara and lip gloss go a long way. If I was on a desert island, I’d take concealer, mascara and lip gloss.”

Attime dreams of being a political analyst after she hones her political acumen on Capitol Hill. Her next career leap would be to journalism; she’s thinking about graduate school so she can learn more about writing, video shooting and production.

“I love talking about it and debating it,” she says of politics. “I’m so fortunate to be on Capitol Hill where it’s all working.”

She’s spent the last year focusing on her career, but thinks maybe it’s time to start dating more.

For her, a good date is dinner and conversation.

“It’s not about the huge gesture, but the small things that show they care,” she says.

She likes Washington because it’s such a transient city and just about everyone is from somewhere else. It makes it easier to meet people as “everyone is trying to get to know people,” unlike her hometown of Boston, where “friends often know each other from junior high.”

She’s lost her Boston accent but not her passionate devotion to the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins.

When one friend asked why she was rooting so hard for the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals considering she’s not even a hockey fan, her answer was simple enough: “I’m a Boston fan.”

—Alexander Bolton


alt

alt

Age: 54
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Married

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was almost a case of we-didn’t-know-what-we-had-‘til-it-was-gone. The two-term senator made history last fall when she became only the second senator to win a write-in election after losing in the GOP primary.

It was precisely during her campaign’s down-and-out days when Murkowski’s natural grace came through. She used her quick smile, easy laugh and relaxed demeanor to energize the manual labor and door-to-door politicking it took to get voters to pencil in her three-syllable last name.

{mosads}The Alaska native is a known health nut. She’s often spotted walking from her Capitol Hill home to the Senate at the start of a workday — a hulking backpack slung over her shoulder — or jogging up the stairs to get to a vote or conference meeting. She also has carried this philosophy into her policy work. Among other things, Murkowski has championed healthy food choices for schoolchildren.

It’s in Alaska, however, where she’s really in her element. Her online photo gallery shows her in pink fleece and hiking boots, sitting on an overturned bucket while feeding bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and flashing a smile underneath a ski hat, wrapped in a flowing fur coat at the 39th Annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Murkowski scooted around the Senate in a wheelchair for several months in the spring of 2009 after she tumbled 300 feet down a mountain while skiing at Alyeska Resort, tearing two ligaments in her left knee.

These days the characteristic spring in her step is back, and Washington has her, at least until 2017.

Murkowski declined to participate in an interview for this feature.

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 28 

Hometown: Ganado, Ariz.
Political party: GOProud Conservative
Relationship status: Single

For Michael Woestehoff, what began as distaste for noisy nightspots evolved into a thriving pastime.

At the Washington, D.C. “intern bars” that he used to frequent with his friends, Woestehoff was often frustrated by the ruckus that forced him to shout his conversations.

So the National Indian Education Association’s communications director began recommending hotel bars to his friends instead, figuring that “it’s better to splurge on a better drink and have a better conversation.”

{mosads}Out of Woestehoff’s recommendations grew The Washington Lobbyist, a blog he began to review hotel lobbies and quickly expanded to cover charity events and fundraisers.

A year and a half later, the website has provided Woestehoff with a wide network of friends.

“They’re great, passionate people [who] form the backbone of how philanthropy works in D.C.,” he said.

Woestehoff’s day job, too, allows him to blend business with passion. Having grown up on a Navajo Indian reservation, Woestehoff said his role at NIEA allows him to “tell the Native American story in a contemporary and accurate way.”

When not at work, Woestehoff indulges his interest in photography — “I almost always have my camera with me,” he said — and keeps busy in a two-year master’s program in public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University.

Woestehoff, strikingly tall, has a soft voice but laughs readily — mostly at others’ jokes, not his own. 

He runs in Rock Creek Park and goes to the gym, and he went vegetarian for two years to combat an overeating tendency that once plagued him.

“Becoming a vegetarian slashes the menu,” he explained. 

Woestehoff has introduced fish and chicken back into his diet, a symbol of the consistency he seeks throughout his life.

“There’s just a balance that naturally happens when you’re doing all the things you’re really passionate about,” he said.

—Becki Steinberg


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Evansville, Ind.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Recently engaged 

Talk about a Capitol Hill series of events: Megan Hermann got engaged at the start of the month on the National Mall — to a fellow Senate staffer, whom she met playing congressional softball. 

{mosads}“It’s a nice little Capitol Hill love story,” says Hermann, the minority staff’s press secretary on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Hermann — whose fiance, Andy Moskowitz, works in Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) minority whip office — says being in a congressional relationship is mostly all positives, with a few minor downsides. 

On the plus side, Hermann and Moskowitz both understand the often hectic, usually unpredictable schedules that come with being a staffer. 

“If he’s stuck here until midnight three days before Christmas because we’re waiting on votes, I understand because I know he doesn’t have any control over that,” says Hermann, who came to Washington right after graduating from St. Louis University to intern for then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). 

But, she adds, “any time we leave D.C., that’s all everyone wants to talk to us about — what’s going on in D.C.? And that’s the last thing we want to talk about when we’re getting out of town.” 

In fact, Hermann says, traveling is among her favorite pastimes, with previous itineraries taking her to Russia and Denali National Park in Alaska, the home state of her boss, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). 

But with all that jet-setting comes a fair share of travel horror stories, including a hitched ride with a DEA agent and a forced detour in a rental car that included an ice storm, a cat in the backseat and a traffic stop — in a construction zone, no less. 

“Knock on wood, my bags usually make it,” Hermann says with a laugh. “It’s just me that doesn’t always make it.”

—Bernie Becker


alt

alt

Age: 25
Hometown: Miami
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Dating

With parents who both had children from their first marriages, Carlos Fleites said he has always considered himself the “mutt” of his family. 

Yet his strong jaw and bright smile show that Fleites’s good looks are as pure as they come. 

{mosads}The serious-looking Fleites, a staff assistant to Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), has velvety brown eyes, and his face often crinkles into a dazzling grin. 

Though the half-Colombian, half-Cuban Miami native never imagined living away from home, he came to love being on his own after moving to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. 

“I’m the baby [of the family], so everyone’s always in my grill,” said Fleites, who has five older siblings and 13 nieces and nephews.

“I like to joke that I have 13 kids,” he said. “We’re a big, crazy family, [but] in a way, it defines you. I want a family now — probably five kids maximum.” 

Fleites has been in Washington for only seven months, but he has already realized the city “is a small world.”

“Making friends just happens,” he said. 

Last year Fleites joined a kickball league with a buddy, and the team instantly became his inner circle. He now plays volleyball and hits the local nightspots with them as well. 

With kickball season over, Fleites keeps fit through daily workouts on an indoor rowing machine — “the ultimate torture machine,” he calls it — that he set up in his bedroom.

For the former college rower, crew “is a habit you don’t enjoy, but you can’t get away from. … Every part of your body has a heartbeat when you’re done,” he said.

More than anything, Fleites credits genetics — and a positive outlook— for his eye-appeal. 

“I don’t moisturize twice a day or anything,” he said. “My philosophy is just to have fun with the life you have. If you make it active, it’s going to be active.” 

—Becki Steinberg


alt

alt

Age: 27
Hometown: Williamston, N.C.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: “In a serious relationship, and happily so.”

Lee Lilley’s career as a legislative director for Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) isn’t just about policy. It’s also personal.

A great part about his job, Lilley says, is that he gets to go home a lot. And for Lilley, home is Williamston, N.C., which happens to be in the district his boss represents.

{mosads}Tall, confident and composed, with blond hair and clear blue eyes, Lilley says his hometown roots mean he has a more personal connection to constituents who walk through the Rayburn office door. And because Williamston has a population of only about 6,000 people, there usually aren’t too many degrees of separation.

At first he jokes that the happy hours are his favorite part of his job. But on a more serious note, he says diving into the policy process is the best part.

“For people who are interested in efficiency, they’ve come to the wrong place,” he says of Washington. “But I think the melding of pretty different ideas into something that can actually become law is actually kind of amazing.”

“When I first started,” Lilley says, “I was just blown away that people in their 20s are allowed to make these decisions. We probably don’t have any business making these decisions. I thought I’d be answering the phones for, like, six years.”

In his free time, Lilley enjoys travel — most recently to Turkey, with a hopeful eye on Southeast Asia — and basketball, getting in at least two pickup games per week to help him stay active and manage stress.

Despite encouragement to brag a little, Lilley downplays any notion that he’s made The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list because of “anything special.”

“I think that I smile a lot, and people react very well to people who look friendly, act friendly and are open to engagement,” he says. “I just happen to be friendly, and I try to show it to people. And that works.”

—Cristina Marcos


alt

alt

Age: 23
Hometown: Pleasantville, N.Y.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Boyfriend

Jaymi Light might be embracing life in Washington as a congressional staffer for Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), but she still has a soft spot for Indiana, where she spent her college years.

“People in Indiana are a lot nicer than in D.C.,” she says.

{mosads}And yet it’s hard to believe that Light’s cheery smile and girl-next-door appeal could draw out anything less than chivalry.

Light’s dedication to political work is matched by her love of cycling. During her time at Indiana University, she competed in the annual Little 500 bike race, a relay-style competition on what is basically a scaled-down version of the Indianapolis 500 track. The race is all about fast speeds, high adrenaline and left turns.

In Washington, Light has kept up her cycling skills with frequent bike rides from Capitol Hill to Mount Vernon, supplemented with jogs past the monuments of the National Mall.

For Light, staying beautiful comes as common sense. 

“Try to eat small portions and don’t eat crap all the time,” she laughs. 

And don’t forget to take off your face before bed, she says — and with authority. Light previously worked with the Personal Care Products Council, an advocacy group representing the cosmetics industry.

Light has also found the secret to office-fashion success. 

“Look for something that fits, but won’t make people do a double-take. Make sure that if you have a meeting with the boss, it’s something that he’s comfortable with,” she says.

Among the biggest challenges of her move to Washington? Light says it has been vital to constantly go outside her comfort zone and make new friends, even while keeping in touch with the old.

Yet she seems to have had little trouble fitting right in with Young’s staff: She’ll be the third aide working in his office to make the 50 Most Beautiful People list.

—Jake Interrante


alt

alt

Age: 33
Hometown: Washington
Political party: Nonpartisan
Relationship status: Single

In a sea of dark suits and general preppiness, Margo Ellis stands out in the halls of Congress. After all, she is a self-described “6-foot-tall woman with a Marine Corps swagger.”

At first glance, the Washington native’s exterior is quintessentially Leatherneck: lean, fit, confident, alert, serious. Spend just a few minutes chatting with the former Marine, however, and you soon discover Ellis has a softer side.

It emerges — fittingly — as she talks about her fellow Marines.

{mosads}While many who join the military talk of doing their jobs to help defend the United States, “Marines really mean it,” Ellis says, choking up.

“You find a lot of passion on Capitol Hill, but [those people] get to see their kids at the end of the day,” an emotional Ellis says. “Not Marines. That’s powerful.” 

It quickly becomes clear that this respect and passion drives her work as a legislative liaison for the Veterans Affairs Department.

Ellis was an auto mechanic during her nine-year Marine Corps career.

“Growing up, if there was something that was considered ‘not normal,’ I wanted to do it,” she says.

 During a deployment in Iraq, Ellis was a member of the Corps’ Female Engagement Teams, which spent weeks at a time “outside the wire” to interact with female Iraqi citizens.

Her own experience helps her as an advocate for other veterans.

“I really feel like I have won the lottery working on Capitol Hill,” she says, “because I give a voice to all woman veterans whose sacrifices and service are too often forgotten.”

When her duties are done on Capitol Hill, Ellis heads across town, where she is working on a master’s degree at Georgetown University.

She also hosts a weekly video program on the Pentagon Channel called “The American Veteran.” Asked what she does in her free time, Ellis quips, “What’s free time?”

—John T. Bennett


alt

alt

Age: 54
Hometown: Detroit
Political party: Democrat
Relationship status: Married

When inspiration hits Rep. Hansen Clarke, not much can stop him. During a recent interview, he scrambles around his Washington office, snagging a notebook and a blue pen to demonstrate the sketching he sometimes does to escape from whatever policy problem might be on his mind. 

Within minutes, he produces several abstract drawings full of geometric shapes, paisleys, a human face.

“This may look like scribble to you,” he says, “but this is me, OK? And it opens me up and allows me, I know, to be a more effective representative.”

{mosads}Clarke studied fine arts in college but left it behind when he decided to pursue public office. He thought the two couldn’t coexist.

“Once I decided to be a lawyer, I dropped the art,” Clarke says. “All those years I didn’t do art, it got to me. There wasn’t a day out of the months out of the years that I didn’t draw, that I didn’t want to draw.”

It’s more of a pastime these days, because Clarke focuses most of his energy on turning around his hometown.

“I’m, like, on a mission here right now,” he says. “I’m from metro Detroit, you know what I mean?”

There’s a physical toll for such an intense focus. Clarke, a vegetarian, has added chicken back into his diet because he’s lost weight since arriving in Washington, a change he attributes to all of the walking he does around the Capitol. He denies himself most sugar to keep his mind clear (though he’s an avowed Snickers lover), and he rarely attends local social events unless he sees an opportunity for him to do his job better.

Clarke does relax, but mostly when back in Detroit. He hangs out with is wife, Choi Palms-Cohen, or reads. Books of choice include the Bible (“I’m more a New Testament guy”) and, as on one recent Sunday afternoon, a homeland security law and policy primer.

—Kris Kitto 


alt

alt

Age: 24
Hometown: Grey Bull, Wyo. 
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Boyfriend

Macy Sukut possesses that simple, homegrown beauty that could only come from the wide-open spaces of the West.

Yes, this Wyoming native hunts, fishes and skis, but these days, as intern coordinator for Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sukut is more likely to be strutting the Capitol’s halls in high heels than sporting her preferred, home-on-the-range outfit of ragged jeans and flannel.

{mosads}Even Sukut says she didn’t quite realize what a true country girl she was until she arrived in Washington in 2009.

“I wasn’t ever a fan of country music,” she says. “Then I came here and I realized my radio station was on country music every morning.”

However proud she is of her heritage, Sukut hasn’t limited herself to the Cowboy State. 

She already has spent a year perfecting her German and skiing in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg, Austria, and she aspires to a master’s degree in global security beginning next spring, she hopes.

Not surprisingly, Sukut’s secret to sustaining her natural beauty is rather low key. She says she doesn’t log much time in front of the mirror.

Besides drinking “lots of water,” Sukut admits she does have one vice that helps her sustain her sleek profile. 

“I am a workout fiend,” she says. “I run a lot.”

Even exercising comes fairly easy for Sukut, as she says she carried the habit over from her days at the University of Wyoming — where she played varsity basketball and ran track.

One warning: If you’re looking for a running partner on Capitol Hill, watch out for Sukut. She disapproves of runners who gab while on the road.

“I don’t understand how people run and talk at the same time and still get a workout,” she says.

When Sukut runs, she listens to country music.

—Josiah Ryan


alt

alt

Age: 23 

Hometown: Wheaton, Ill.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Dean Thompson has worked for Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) for more than four years, which pretty much qualifies him as a veteran on Capitol Hill.

“I was fortunate enough to meet Peter as a high-school student, interned with him way back when, and started working on his first campaign volunteering as a college student,” said Thompson, the senior adviser for whip operations. “I’ve been with him ever since.”

{mosads}Thompson stays active by running, biking, climbing, hanging out with friends and bartending part-time at The Ugly Mug in Eastern Market.

“I think it’s really important to sort of get some perspective outside of [the Capitol],” he said.

Though young and accomplished, Thompson hasn’t achieved all of his goals just yet. He said he would like to hit the bike trails with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who rides every morning with a group of lawmakers.

“I’m not really at [McCarthy’s] level … but at some point I will get up the nerve to do it,” he said.

When Thompson isn’t working, bartending or exercising, he enjoys shopping for clothes at Astor & Black.

“I really like clothes,” Thompson said. “Dress for the job you want, that’s what everyone says.”

Another new goal: daily flossing. His dentist gave him a study showing that flossing every day strengthens the immune system.

“I have scratched in Sharpie in my mirror, ‘floss everyday,’ ” Thompson said.

To get his well-styled hair, Thompson uses Goldwell wax, which comes in a tube dangerously similar to a stick of deodorant.

“One time I put deodorant in my hair instead of the hair product,” he said. “So if you get hair gel that looks like deodorant, make sure that you know what you’re using when you put it in your hair in the morning.”

—Ramsey Cox


alt

alt

Age: 30
Hometown: Trenton, N.J.
Political Party: Independent 
Relationship Status: Single

Since her career as a high-school track star, Ify Ike, a policy fellow for Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), has always been well-rounded.

“I was trained to be an all-around athlete,” said the former Junior Olympics contender, who competed in nearly every track event and also played tennis and basketball. “I loved being able to help the team.

{mosads}“I’m definitely not the health nut … I’ve never been a gym-membership person,” said Ike, who now prefers playing team sports and kickboxing to stay active. 

“My body loves feeling nauseous,” she said, her full lips splitting to reveal a huge smile. “It feels so good to be alive, to realize how much you can push yourself.”

This sense of self-motivation has seeped into Ike’s studies as well. A talented undergraduate at West Virginia University, Ike went on to earn a law degree at The City University of New York School of Law, a master of laws at George Washington University, and a master’s degree in communications studies from WVU. 

Ike’s first name is short for Ifeomasinachi. Her family is from Nigeria, and her name is a translation of a Bible verse that says “every good and perfect gift comes from above.”

Today, this dynamic attorney is an urban youth advocate, a weekly blogger and an active member of her church. She leads a spoken-word group, having penned poetry, prose and, most recently, a screenplay. 

“I’m hoping one day to hold a little gold bald man on the stage,” Ike joked. 

Yet this mid-Atlantic native’s greatest desire is to one day return to Brooklyn — where she used to live while working on Wall Street. 

“Brooklyn is my heart. All roads lead to Brooklyn,” said Ike, her flawless skin glowing and her eyes wide and warm. 

“I used to have dreams of owning a brownstone and being like the Cosbys,” Ike laughed. “But that dream entails five kids and a husband, so we’ll see. I still want the brownstone, though!” 

Yet judging by Ike’s record, it seems almost obvious that this dream — and any others she has — will surely come true. 

—Becki Steinberg 


alt

alt

Age: 33
Hometown: Winchester, Va.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Has a boyfriend

Trent Bauserman may have grown up in Virginia, but a part of his heart lives in the Rocky Mountains.

Bauserman’s a skier, and a few years ago he fell in love with the slopes in the West.

{mosads}“I’ve just been going out there at least once a year with some friends, and it’s heaven for me,” he said.

But it didn’t take a winter vacation in Colorado for Bauserman, an environment and energy policy adviser for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), to fall in love with the outdoors. Growing up on a farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, he has always felt a pull toward nature.

“I feel like growing up in the country really helped ground me and gave me an appreciation for simpler things,” he said.

One of those simpler things is his dog, Pete. Bauserman rescued the mutt as a puppy three and a half years ago from the Washington Animal Rescue League, and he now proudly shows off a photo of Pete curled up on his chest to anyone who asks.

But he doesn’t exactly eschew all of life’s finer things. Bauserman wears a pair of shiny, silver Senate cufflinks, which he bought in celebration of his being hired in the Senate. He also has a pair of House cufflinks that he purchased 11 years ago when he first started on Capitol Hill, and he still wears them occasionally (“I’m a House staffer first… I remember where I came from,” he said). Rounding out the Democrat’s collection is a pair of donkey cufflinks.

And then there are his grooming products.

“One word: Kiehl’s,” he said.

Bauserman credits his parents for his love of the outdoors.

“They sort of instilled within me concern for the environment, concern for leaving the world a little bit better off than you found it,” he said.

–Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: In a relationship

Maile Mercer, who advises Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) on economic policy, will soon leave Capitol Hill for nursing school — a calling, she says, that’s in her blood.

{mosads}“My mom and grandmother were both nurses, and many of my mom’s friends are nurses as well,” she says. “In some ways, there was just no escaping this profession.”

Mercer volunteered at a children’s hospital during college but ultimately pursued a degree in politics. She interned for (then candidate) Rep. Brad Miller’s (D-N.C.) campaign in 2002, and then was pointed to Price’s office, where she’s worked for four years.

“I could definitely continue to be happy and fulfilled working here, and for my boss, for a really long time,” she says. “I guess I was just lucky enough to find a career that was even more perfect for me.”

This occurred to Mercer a year ago, when she took a leave of absence to care for her mother, who had broken 11 bones in a bad fall.

Though she’s about to start a career in healthcare, Mercer says her own approach to fitness is “low-key.” 

“I like Yoga District” — the popular multidisciplinary studio — “because it’s a little crunchy,” she says. “I like my yoga non-judgmental.”

She also rides her bike occasionally on the Capitol Crescent trail, and calls herself “a big stickler on helmets.”

 Mercer was born in Oahu, Hawaii, and her first name, pronounced MY-lee, is Hawaiian.

She deadpans about having “a huge fan club in the 8-12 range” a la Miley Cyrus, and laments that so few get the pronunciation right on the first try. 

“If we’re on the phone, I understand a little confusion,” she says with a laugh. “But when we’re standing face-to-face … Do you really think my parents would name me ‘Mail?’”

—Elise Viebeck


alt

alt

Age: 32
Hometown: Minnetonka, Minn.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Has a girlfriend

Josh Holmes, the chief of staff for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has found the secret to maintaining his physical health while working in the mentally taxing environment on Capitol Hill.

“I combine stress with frequent walks to the Capitol and back,” he jokes from his office in the Russell building.

{mosads}As for his secret to staying awake during those late-night voting sessions: Diet Mountain Dew and Snickers bars.

He usually has two Diet Dews a day, but “if it’s a bad day, I’ll have a third,” he says.

His job also requires him to go to a lot of work dinners, so he makes up for life on the cocktail circuit by skipping breakfast, saying his first meal is usually around 3 p.m.

Holmes may be an information addict — he uses a BlackBerry and an iPhone — but he does take some down time.

“I’m a huge sports fan. If you can compete, I will watch,” he said. “It’s hard to underestimate how big of a sports fan I am.”

He also says there’s “one week a year where I’m completely out of pocket.” That’s in August, when he travels to his family’s cabin in Canada. And it’s quite a trip: a flight to Winnipeg, followed by a couple of hours in the car and then a boat ride to the cabin.

“I’ve been going every year of my life,” he said.

This Senate staffer has a soft side too, revolving around his black and white Boston terrier, Chloe. 

“She’s adorable,” he said.

And there’s an equally adorable story about how Chloe came into his life, which was about three years ago. At the time, Holmes’s girlfriend was working at the Republican National Committee on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign and vowed that when the election was over, she was going to get a dog.

“Her birthday was Election Day in 2008, and I got her Chloe,” Holmes said.

—Emily Goodin


alt

alt

Age: 23
Hometown: Cincinnati
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Steven Smith arrived in Washington just four months ago and he’s already fallen in love with the city.

“It is pretty awesome,” said the staff assistant for Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). “I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to history and national politics, so I think it’s pretty cool to see it up close and in person.”

Smith majored in marketing at the University of Indiana and thought he would go into advertising after college but couldn’t find a job in the field. So he started looking into other options, and that’s when he “got lucky,” landing the position in Schmidt’s office. 

{mosads}One of his favorite parts of his new office so far is the joint softball team with House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office.

“We’re called the Mastodons,” Smith said. “Our softball skills are pretty good, but we have a lot of fun doing social things after games.”

In college Smith was on the cycling team, but more recently he has gotten into running. During his job interview, Schmidt, who has run more than 80 marathons, asked him if he was a runner.

“It’s pretty hard to not love running down the Mall,” Smith said.

On weekends he runs from his apartment to the Lincoln Memorial and back — about 6 miles — and he prefers to run in the heat of the day.

“I regret it when I’m out there, but I guess I always did sports growing up, and we trained at the hottest times of day just to be ready for any situation,” he said.

Smith credited his sister for his healthy habits.

“[She’s] a huge health nut, and so she kind of brainwashed me into being healthy,” he said. “I’ve always been a runner. I think to be healthy, anyone can get to whatever weight they want or health situation they want by just running a lot. It’s not easy, but running is definitely key to being healthy.”

–Ramsey Cox


alt

alt

Age: 25
Hometown: Cherry Hill, N.J.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Boyfriend

Ever tasted a Brie cheese, dark chocolate and fresh basil Panini? It’s one of Kate Bluhm’s many specialties.

She also grills watermelon, freezes her own ice cream in exotic flavors and joined her office kickball team just to be “snack mom.”

{mosads}Bluhm insists she is not a “food snob.” The scheduler for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) keeps a mental list of the best lowbrow food spots around the Capitol complex to get her through those extra-long workdays.

She even arrived to this interview with a cup of cake-batter ice cream.

With so much gastronomic indulgence, how does Bluhm maintain her physique? Not by exercising, she claims.

“Moderation,” she explains.

Bluhm has one other great love, to which she does not apply the same discipline.

“Shoes,” she says. “I love shoes.”

She keeps a collection of more than 20 pairs in her desk drawer.

Bluhm has purchased outfits — many outfits — to match wild pairs of shoes, and she’s proud of it.

She recounts the time she was making a cross-Capitol sprint to deliver a critical document to her boss in the chamber, when her left heel shattered under the strain.

She hobbled on, though, blazing a trail with one functional stiletto through a “field of huddled reporters.”

“You can’t stop,” she explains. “You have to keep going.”

Yes, Bluhm has a boyfriend, but don’t let that deter you from making her acquaintance. She wants to extend an invitation to the entire Capitol Hill community to join her for “Family Dinner,” for which she bakes up a storm at her place in Columbia Heights,Md.

—Josiah Ryan


alt

alt

Age: 26
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: In a relationship

Christine Martin is a die-hard sports fan. In fact, she remembers more football and basketball statistics than most guys, she says.

“I can pretty much out-coach boys,” Martin says. “They stare at me and can’t believe that it comes out of my mouth when I list off all the teams’ stats and who’s who.”

{mosads}The slender, brown-haired Florida native grew up cheerleading in high school and has always loved the competitive atmosphere that comes with sports, especially after attending both the University of Florida and Florida State University — two of the fiercest rivals in college football.

But Martin says she doesn’t talk too much trash to her boyfriend, whom she met at FSU, even though her true loyalty is to the University of Florida.

Martin says she can be a “girly-girl,” too, as she has fun going shopping and putting on makeup.

“Some people hate makeup, but I just happen to like it,” she says. “I think it’s fun. I learned as I got older and found what I liked and went with it. Presentation’s not everything, but it definitely helps.”

Though she’s lived in Washington for only six months, Martin already is baking her way into the hearts of her colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where she was hired as counsel earlier this summer.

“I made some pretty amazing key lime cupcakes recently,” she says.

Martin first came to Washington right out of law school after landing a job in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s legal department.

Though she says she has a lot of exploring left to do in this new city, she knows where she’ll be for at least one day every weekend this fall.

“Football season’s coming up, so I will obviously be in front of the TV every Sunday,” she says.

—Jordy Yager


alt

alt

Age: 31
Hometown: Long Valley, N.J.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Married

 Jacqueline Ferko, a lobbyist for Boeing, first came to Washington under a different guise: goalkeeper.

 Ferko earned a college scholarship at American University to play goalie for the Division 1 soccer team. She said it was a dream to play at such a high level, though it surprised many that she played keeper.

 {mosads}“I was a little girly for the position,” Ferko said, noting that she was short for a keeper and had a penchant for manicures and pedicures. 

 Her time at one of Washington’s top colleges naturally led to a career in government. She started on Capitol Hill as an intern for her congressman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and later became a professional staff member for the Senate Small Business Committee with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

 Now the athletic blonde is working for one of the country’s largest defense contractors, and she loves it.

 “Aerospace is so exciting,” Ferko said. “We make planes. How cool is that?”

 With bright blue eyes and an easy smile, Ferko laughs when asked for beauty tips. She notes moderation is the best policy, but she has her weaknesses — all things cheese.

 “I eat anything that I want, but everything in moderation,” Ferko said.

 She also loves to work out and travel, saying she takes “a bucket-list trip” every year with her husband, stopping in Istanbul last year to celebrate their five-year anniversary. That followed trips to Austria, Germany, Hungary and Russia in years prior.

 Ferko still likes to play soccer when she can, but don’t expect to see her between the sticks.

 “I took the gloves off and I’m not putting them back on,” she said.

— Kevin Bogardus 


alt

alt

Age: 23
Hometown: Plymouth, Mass.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: In a relationship

When Danielle Beck is on edge, she bakes.

“If I’m having a horrible day or if I’m very, very stressed out, I go home and bake elaborate cupcakes,” says the legislative correspondent for Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). “Cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake.”

{mosads}She recently made duckie cupcakes for a friend’s birthday, using doughnut holes for the birds’ heads and diagonally cut marshmallows for their tails. They were a hit.

The petite Beck looks as though she wouldn’t dream of eating her own baked goods, but she talked enthusiastically about the kabobs and cheeseburgers she’s been grilling with her boyfriend this summer on her new Weber grill. Beck runs and does yoga occasionally, but she mostly credits her svelte figure to good genes.

“People would be surprised at the exercise I don’t do,” she says.

Beck first came to Washington as a student at The Catholic University of America, intending to study German. But she got stuck in an American government class her first semester, and to her surprise, she liked it.

From that point, she went on an internship bender, working for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.); the British Parliament (where she witnessed the historic 2009 resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons); the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and the Senate Republican Policy Committee. She graduated from college last year and two weeks later began working for Rooney.

Beck spends her Saturdays volunteering at a preschool for autistic children in Arlington, Va. They play Duck Duck Goose or mold Play-Doh together in an effort to build social skills.

“Sitting at a desk all day — [this] reminds you that there’s life outside of [Capitol] Hill that’s not related to any sort of Beltway, political whatever,” she says.

—Kris Kitto


alt

alt

Age: 28
Hometown: Clinton, N.C.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

Jason Lindsay is the type of Southern gentleman you only see in movies. Dark-haired with glasses framing his matching dark eyes, he opens doors for others and addresses people with a polite “Sir” or “Ma’am.”

{mosads}“My mom always taught me to have manners,” the North Carolina native said, admitting that his learned behavior is a bit of an oddity in Washington. “You say, ‘Good morning’ to someone on the street here, and they look like they think you’re going to rob them.”

Lindsay took a winding path to get to the capital. After serving in Iraq with the Army Reserves, he landed an internship in the summer of 2004 in Rep. Brad Miller’s (D-N.C.) district office. He was later recruited by the Veterans Affairs Department to conduct outreach to new vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He came to Washington a year and a half ago to pursue a master’s degree in government at Johns Hopkins University, and last summer he began working for Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

In the midst of all the change, Lindsay managed to lose 50 pounds. The weight started coming off after he moved to Washington. He started walking more, and he supplemented that with trips to the gym and a healthy diet. 

Lindsay has maintained the weight loss despite food-filled trips home to the South to see his family. 

“I’m heading down there this weekend — I’m already planning my strategy,” he said, giving a nod to his mother’s sweet tea and pies.

To the legislative correspondent for health policy, life is all about balance. 

“I like to surround myself with positive people,” he said.

—Kate Oczypok

Tags Boehner Chuck Fleischmann Chuck Grassley David Schweikert Dianne Feinstein Frank Wolf G.K. Butterfield Jeanne Shaheen Jeff Merkley John Barrasso John Boehner John McCain Kay Hagan Lisa Murkowski Marco Rubio Mike Crapo Mitch McConnell Patty Murray Robert Menendez Rodney Frelinghuysen Roy Blunt Todd Young
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video