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When the Republicans took back a House majority after the midterm elections last November, a number of GOP staffers were inspired to seek new opportunities on Capitol Hill, including Dina Ellis Rochkind.
But Rochkind wasn’t new to the experience of a Republican job surge in Washington. In fact, Rochkind first became involved in politics because of the Republican takeover in 1994.
“The 1994 takeover solidified it for me,” Rochkind said of her desire to pursue a career in politics. “I feel like we’re in a similar time now. It’s very exciting and a good time to get involved.”
Rochkind was recently hired as senior financial services counsel for freshman Sen. Pat Toomey. Although she just came over from the private sector to work for the Pennsylvania Republican in April, this isn’t her first gig on the Hill. The 41-year-old is actually a seasoned Hill veteran with experience in financial services.
The Pennsylvania native graduated from Penn State University with a degree in English writing and experience reporting for her school newspaper. Rochkind went on to earn a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law, which later became apart of Penn State.
After she graduated from law school in 1994, Rochkind started reading newspapers every day and became fascinated with the political climate brewing in Washington. The events bred her desire to come to Capitol Hill, but she didn’t have the resources to move there right away, so Rochkind took a job as a legal reporter for the Daily Record in Baltimore.
Rochkind settled on the East Coast and began to carve a path for her future career in government. She went knocking on doors in an attempt to meet people in the field and gain her footing on the Hill.
The networking eventually paid off; Rochkind was granted her first full time job in 1995 as legislative assistant for then-Rep. John Shadegg. She stayed in the Arizona Republican’s office for a year, where she learned the basics of working in politics.
But by 1996, she was offered a gig as legislative counsel for then-Rep. George Gekas. Her stint in the Pennsylvania Republican’s office, where she spearheaded bankruptcy reform legislation, is how she got her start in financial issues.
One of the most memorable moments of her career was when she and her coworkers were working on crucial bankruptcy reform legislation and got called into the office of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
“They told us we had to get it done, and so we stayed up all night,” Rochkind said.
Her two years of experience with banking issues helped secure Rochkind’s next post with the Senate Banking Committee, where she was principal legislative and legal adviser to then-Chairman Phil Gramm (R-Texas).
Rochkind went on to work for the Treasury Department in 2001 and then shifted over to the House Financial Services Committee in 2003.
But after four years with the committee, where she was the principal legislative adviser to Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) on consumer credit issues and financial institutions, she decided it was time for a change. Rochkind left the Hill to work for Chrysler.
Although she was in the private sector, she didn’t abandon financial issues completely. Working for the company’s government and Congressional affairs departments, Rochkind advocated for tax, financial service and health care issues on behalf of the automobile company.
But her long-standing interest in financial issues never went away, and when Toomey personally asked her to come join his office as senior financial services counsel, Rochkind couldn’t say no. And it sounds like she couldn’t be happier about her Hill homecoming.
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