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Hill Climbers: Army Put Staffer on the Path to Public Service

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Erik Elam, legislative director for Rep. Don Young, didn’t have to give up the military to work on Capitol Hill: He enlisted in the U.S. National Guard in Virginia.

And perhaps he was right; after a year in the Alaskan’s office, Elam was promoted to legislative assistant. He took on energy and resources issues for the Congressman, who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Elam was just promoted to legislative director in February. Although he is taking on a more managerial role, he still handles most of the same issues he did previously.

Since working for Young, Elam has had the opportunity to travel to the Congressman’s district, which encompasses the entire state of Alaska. Although the 10-hour flight can be difficult at times, Elam said it’s necessary to do his job effectively.

“We can talk about conditions in a village on the North Slope, but until you’ve actually been there and until you’ve had to go to a bathroom in an outhouse, you don’t know,” he said.

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

Correction: April 6, 2011

The article misquoted Legislative Director Erik Elam. He said, “We can talk about conditions in a village on the North Slope, but until you’ve actually been there and until you’ve had to go to a bathroom in an outhouse, you don’t know.”

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