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Hill Climbers: Ties That Bind in Freshman Keating’s Office

Tom Williams/Roll Call
From left: Lauren Amendolara, Mira Resnick, Fallon Shields, Kerry O’Brien, Garrett Donovan and Adair Gregory, from the office of Rep. Bill Keating.

When the Republicans won back a House majority in November, new GOP Congressmen were quickly thrust into the national spotlight. But a handful of Democratic Members in the freshman class have staff members working equally hard to make waves on Capitol Hill. And the office of freshman Rep. Bill Keating is no exception.

His six-person staff began working around the clock to kick-start the Massachusetts Democrat’s office since they started in January. Keating was recently appointed ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.

Communications Director Lauren Amendolara, 31, was directly affected by the slew of Democratic losses in November. Her former boss, then-Rep. Michael McMahon, was defeated in the elections.

Amendolara came to Washington in January 2009 to work for McMahon, who represented her Staten Island hometown. She worked as a communications director for two years.

But her time in the Bay State — she attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. — gave her the necessary ties to Keating’s office.

Amendolara didn’t always envision herself working in politics. After she graduated in 2001, she attended Fordham University School of Law.

When she received her degree in 2005, Amendolara practiced law at Pryor Cashman, a New York firm that specializes in real estate and litigation.

Four years later, she decided it was time for a change and made her way to Capitol Hill. Since starting with the Congressman in January, she has been learning the Massachusetts district while holding on to her New York roots.

“I’m a Mets and Jets fan, but we don’t talk about that since Congressman Keating is a die-hard Red Sox and Pats fan,” she joked.
Legislative Assistant Fallon Shields grew up in Keating’s district, which includes her hometown of Duxbury. The 26-year-old attended the University of Notre Dame, where she received a literature degree in 2006.

Inspired by her parents, who both worked for Members after college, Shields moved to D.C. Her long-standing interest in politics and policy eventually landed her a post as legislative assistant with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who at the time was Majority Leader.

Shields now handles work for the House Small Business Committee along with trade, education, health and housing issues. Shields is also enjoying the perks of living in Washington.

“I love walking along the Mall and the Potomac when the tourists aren’t out in full force,” she said. “D.C. is a very manageable city. It’s a great size with plenty of restaurants and museums, but it’s also easy to escape to Shenandoah or the beach for a weekend trip.”

Adair Gregory, 25, who also hails from the Bay State, worked on the Congressman’s campaign, which is what inspired him to seek a full-time gig with the lawmaker. Other than sharing a passion for Massachusetts sports teams, Gregory said he also admires Keating’s deep involvement in office decisions.

But his job with the lawmaker isn’t Gregory’s first stint working on the Hill. After he graduated from the University of Denver, he interned for the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee.

Legislative Assistant Kerry O’Brien also has experience on the Hill, and even working for the same district she does now; she was legislative assistant for Keating’s predecessor, former Rep. Bill Delahunt (D).

O’Brien grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of Maryland. She earned degrees in Spanish and political science, with a concentration in international affairs. Although O’Brien secured a job after graduation, her boss did not seek re-election in 2010.

Luckily, however, O’Brien was hired by Keating and got to keep many of her same job duties. She is now responsible for environment, ethics, fisheries, Indian affairs, and oversight and government reform issues.

Garrett Donovan, a Hill veteran, was hired as Keating’s chief of staff. The Massachusetts native has been working in D.C. for almost 11 years, most recently as chief of staff for then-Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.).

After his former boss was defeated in the November elections, the 29-year-old found a new home in Keating’s office. However, he said after many years living in the city, he no longer calls D.C. his place of residence.

“I traded my Metro card for a car and moved to Annapolis last year,” he said. “Haven’t regretted it for a minute since.”

Legislative Director Mira Resnick also worked for Klein before being hired by Keating.

The California native attended Columbia University, where she earned a degree in political science, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she earned a degree in Israel studies. After college, she worked on several campaigns, including the 2004 presidential campaign for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

She went on to work as legislative director for Klein. Resnick brought over many of the same skills in her new role with Keating, which has helped in her transition. Keating’s personality has also been comforting in the new office.

“Congressman Keating has a great sense of humor that makes being in the minority a lot easier,” she said.

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