Everyone has a routine to prepare for a new job: some like to meditate and relax, while others buy new business suits and spend hours memorizing the company’s mission statement.
The methods of preparation differed for two new staffers in the office of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, but both efforts helped them settle in with the Georgia Republican in October.
“I wanted to learn more about the district. I’m from South Carolina, so it’s very close, but it’s not the same,” said Leslie Shedd, communications director for Westmoreland. “My second week that I was here I went down to the district and ended up visiting 13 of the 15 counties. I talked with local media and met with constituents to really get a feel for what’s important.”
Senior Legislative Assistant Kevin Doran also set out to familiarize himself with his new role, but he took a more relaxed approach from within the confines of his D.C. office.
“Working in a lobbying firm, our recess was busier than session,” Doran said. “I came here the Thursday before the election, and for the first time in a long time, I had a chance to catch up on reading things like Roll Call, Politico and everyday Hill information. I also read a lot of the mail coming in and out of the Congressman’s office and started to learn the nuances of how it operates.”
At first glance, the 31-year-olds seem like total opposites. Shedd hails from South Carolina, while Doran is originally from the south side of Chicago. Shedd works with the press, whereas Doran works with legislation. Shedd has been working in the public sphere, but Doran just came from the private sector.
One thing they have in common, however, is that neither ever expected to wind up on Capitol Hill.
“I wanted to be a vet my entire young life,” Shedd said. “But my senior year of high school, my mother and my allergist had a conference call with me and explained I’m highly allergic to cats, hay and being outdoors, and that I can’t be a vet.”
Doran said, “In college, I was undecided at first. Nothing really piqued my interest. But I was dating a girl who came up here to intern. I visited and just fell in love with the place.”
After coming to terms with her crushed veterinarian dreams, Shedd decided to pursue something completely different and earned a bachelor’s in political science from Clemson University in 2001. In 2007, she received her law degree from the University of the District of Columbia, although she never planned to practice law.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.