Its not unusual to hear a Congressional staffer say he or she came to Washington to help people, to network, to make a difference. But the new executive board members of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association are taking that even further, carrying those goals over from their day jobs to the organization they now head.
Teresa Bravo found out firsthand how useful it is to have a supportive community to turn to upon first arriving in Washington, D.C.
A lifelong resident of Tucson, Ariz., Bravo landed in Washington in January 2008. It was a month after she graduated from the University of Arizona, and she had come to town to be staff assistant to Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Bravo joined the CHSA soon after arriving in the city in order to meet people and develop a network.
Simply belonging to the organization wasnt enough for Bravo, however. During her first year on the Hill, she served as the CHSAs treasurer. This year, she decided to take things a step further and was elected president in February.
I knew what was going on and what needed to be improved, she said.
Having a network of people who had common experiences and could offer advice about living and working in Washington was so vital to Bravos experience that she wants to provide the same support to new members.
When you come here, you dont know anyone, she said. You miss the food, you miss your family, you miss the weather.
As the CHSA establishes and strengthens its connections with other groups throughout Washington, it can provide resources for those members who need to make professional contacts or just want a taste of home. For example, the CHSA maintains relationships with several Latin American embassies.
It connects our members with sources here, knowing people from all over the world, she said.
Bravo is the organizations first female president, a distinction she takes seriously.
Its an honor, she said. I have to step it up and show what we have.
Vice President Simon Tafoya has had a busy spring. In addition to being elected to the CHSA board, he started working as a legislative aide to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in April. Before that, he was a legislative correspondent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Tafoya holds a masters degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a bachelors degree from Colorado College.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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