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Hill Climbers: Ginny-ing Up New Staffers

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Cassie Smedile got the short end of the stick.

In her application for the press secretary opening in Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite’s (R-Fla.) office, her task was to simply write a column on health care. Compared to the typical application essays for jobs in Brown-Waite’s office, that question seems rather dull. Lower-level applicants have been asked questions on everything from bocce ball to iPod music selections for Queen Elizabeth II.

In May, Smedile was hired as Brown-Waite’s press secretary from her job as minority deputy communications director for the House Ways and Means Committee, a position she held for the past two years. Prior to those jobs, Smedile worked a brief stint in 2007 as staff assistant to Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Smedile’s duties now principally include managing media inquiries and information dissemination for Brown-Waite.

“This is the first time I have ever worked for a personal office, and it’s a whole different kind of energy,” she said. Having moved out of the policy world, Smedile notes that her new job allows for a lot more creativity. “We are always thinking of new ways to reach out to our constituents, so the job is more free-flowing compared to my previous work,” she said.

A 24-year-old Missourian and 2007 graduate of Marquette University, Smedile looks forward to the opportunities her new job presents — including an opportunity to play on Brown-Waite’s bocce team. The Congresswoman’s staffers are known in Washington, D.C., bocce circles as strong enthusiasts of the sport.

Joining the staff just as the spring season was finishing, Smedile hopes to play in the future. “Bocce ball was something that really gauged my interest in working for the Congresswoman,” she said.

In the near future, however, she says the Brown-Waite staffers might branch out athletically. “We play bocce ball instead of softball, but we might switch that up soon,” she said. For Smedile, playing softball might give her a competitive advantage, as she is ambidextrous.

Other changes to the Brown-Waite office in May included the promotion of 23-year-old Katie Troller from legislative correspondent to legislative assistant. A 2008 graduate of Miami University in Ohio, Troller says that she knew she wanted to work for Brown-Waite when she saw the job application.

“I found out about the legislative correspondent job through a listserv posting. The job description asked for a 300-word essay describing how bocce ball changed your life. I instantaneously knew I wanted to work for an office that had such a great personality and appreciated bocce ball,” she said.

Troller spent part of her childhood playing bocce with her grandparents in Wisconsin every summer. She used the application to describe how the sport allowed her to learn and share with her grandparents.

“Usually, bocce ball is just a sport played a lot by Italians, but old people in Wisconsin like it,” she said.

An intern for the Senate Republican Conference during the summer of 2007, Troller has a long-held passion for public service. Growing up in Ohio, she lived in the hometown of ex-Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Terrace Park, where personal interaction with the Congressman sparked an interest in politics.

“I was in the sixth grade when I remember coming home from school and announcing that I wanted to work in Washington,” she said.

Troller’s job duties as legislative assistant now include work on issues such as veterans’ affairs, defense services, transportation, environment, education, energy and telecommunications.

Rounding out the recent staff changes in Brown-Waite’s office is Kyle Glenn, who was hired as a legislative correspondent in May. While his duties include timely mail responses and managing constituent tours, Glenn says he also appreciates being tasked with making the Congresswoman’s office feel warm and inviting.

Like Troller, Glenn’s job application featured an interesting essay question. “I was asked to describe what music I would place on an iPod for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. I went with a royal theme. I’d put some artists from the ‘American royalty’ scene on there: Aretha Franklin, Prince, Queen Latifah, Elvis Presley and such,” he said.

A native Virginian, Glenn grew up right outside of Washington in Alexandria. He also knew from a young age that he wanted to work on Capitol Hill, saying, “My parents met in the office of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and even now my dad works on the Hill, so I guess politics runs in the family.”

A recent graduate of Indiana University, Glenn, 21, missed Washington during his undergraduate years.

“I had a great college experience, but I just love the area so much,” he said. For him, this love for D.C. is based on Five Guys’ burgers, $10 Nationals seats and late-night jogs around the National Mall.

As for the office bocce team, Glenn hopes to play soon. “When I was hired, the team was just entering the spring playoffs so I could only be there for emotional support. Hopefully, we can work something out where I play in the future,” he said.

Submit news of hires and promotions on Capitol Hill to Hill Climbers here.

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