WORKING ON THE HILL: Not Happy In Your Job? Step One To Healthy Change — Count Your Blessings

This post came about today because early this morning as I was walking Twister, our exuberant Black Lab, I was somehow reminded by a magnificent oak of the fact I couldn’t see the trees for the forest on my first “bad” job on Capitol Hill.

My backyard, as seen from my home office. Lovely old Silver Maple on the left, Rose of Sharon and pines in the back, neighbor’s cherry tree on the right.

Here’s the background: My first job on the Hill was as press secretary for a Maryland congressman. It was a great experience, as I learned so much from Don Baker, a superb Washington Post reporter, about journalism and the news process, and I absorbed volumes about the ways of the Hill.

But then I got over-confident, talked my way into a job working for an older Texas congressman as his chief of staff, and promptly realized I had screwed up royally.

It truly was not a good fit. He was set in his ways, which, after all, had gotten him re-elected multiple times during an era when old-guard conservative Democrats still ruled the Lone Star State. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Not Happy In Your Job? Step One To Healthy Change — Count Your Blessings”

WORKING ON THE HILL: Studies Reveal Unexpected Profiles Of Hill Staff Pay, Demographics

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released the results of her July survey of Congressional Compensation and Diversity on September 26, it prompted Casey Burgat, senior fellow for the R Street Institute’s Governance Project, to run a comparison with data on HIll staff he uses in his analyses.

Casey Burgat, R Street Institute Governance Project Senior Fellow (screen shot from C-SPAN)

Pelosi’s results were based on responses from more than 5,000 respondents to a survey that was sent to 10,000 Hill employees. Burgat uses data obtained from Legistorm, the widely used compiler of official congressional information about salaries, staff backgrounds, employment histories and much, much more, as of March 2019.

For the most part, the Pelosi and Legistorm data are close, but Burgat found some significant differences, especially with regard to issues like salary and gender distributions by position. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Studies Reveal Unexpected Profiles Of Hill Staff Pay, Demographics”

Looking For The Recipe For Your Office’s Culture? Just Add Salt

By Bret Bernhardt

We talk a lot about influencing our culture in the macro, but what about closer to home? What’s the culture like in your office? Is it warm, friendly, selfless, welcoming, and open? Or is it coarse, backstabbing, self-serving, and overly ambitious?

Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for senators Don Nickles and Jim DeMint.

Now, what is your role in that culture? Do you strive to bring it to a higher level or do your actions or inactions contribute to an unhealthy environment? We can look for the answer in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13) What does this mean? Continue reading “Looking For The Recipe For Your Office’s Culture? Just Add Salt”

WORKING ON THE HILL: Look Who’s Getting Promoted

Recent Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Drew Story is the new legislative assistant for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Story comes from a year-long stint working for Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). He has a Ph.D. in chemical and environmental engineering from the University of California at Riverside in 2018.

Arjun Mody is the Senate Republican Conference’s newly hired staff director, under Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.). It’s a return engagement for Mody, as he previously served in the same job under Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) Arjun is a 2004 graduate of the American University Washington College of Law, as well as a 2003 graduate of the Arizona State University College of Law and a 2000 La Salle University graduate in political science. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Look Who’s Getting Promoted”

STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!

Recent Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Jesus Espinoza is a Hill veteran, having previously worked for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as an intern and more recently as deputy press secretary for Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and press secretary for Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). Now he’s taking the reins as communications director for Rep. Susan Lee (D-Nev.). Espinoza is a 2016 graduate from Williams College in political science and Spanish.


Andrea Porwoll is another Hill veteran making a move up, this time to be communications director for Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.). Porwoll previously worked as a public affairs officer for the Department of Homeland Security and before that was press secretary for Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.). She also worked as a communications coordinator at Heritage Action for America and as an intern for Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). She is a 2016 graduate in public relations, political science and government from Florida State University. Continue reading “STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!”

WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Your August Recess Resolution – Finding Community on the Hill

By Bret Bernhardt

You’ve just returned from a week or two out of the office. During that time you’ve been on a vacation, participating in a codel, or working in the state or district.

Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for senators Don Nickles and Jim DeMint.

Now you’re back in DC in your normal work routine with your familiar surroundings, including your staff colleagues and the people you hang with outside of your job.

For some, it may be a happy and fulfilling return. For others, it might be a reminder that the break from the routine was a needed respite from life in Washington. If it’s the latter, that merits evaluating whether or not you have a healthy community around you in which to live and thrive.

What Does Real Community Look Like? Continue reading “WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Your August Recess Resolution – Finding Community on the Hill”

STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!

Plus, should Hill workers enjoy whistleblower protections? Looking for a congressional job?

Recent Moves, As Reported by Legistorm:

Augie McGinnity-Wake is now digital director for Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). He moves up to the Big Show following an internship for Wisconsin state senator LaTonya Johnson. Yes, he’s a Wisconsin Badger.

Jonay Holkins becomes counsel for Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). Previously, Jonay was with Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

Jean Roehrenbeck ends a four-year run as federal affairs director at National Grid USA by joining Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) as chief of staff. Jean is a St. Joseph’s University (Philly) graduate. Continue reading “STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!”