She’s that voice carrying down the seventh floor hallway of the Longworth House Office Building.
She’s that friendly face in line at the cafeteria.
And now, after 28 years of working for three Members, she’s retiring.
“I’ve had my thrill on Capitol Hill,” said Carolyn Anderson, special assistant to Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.). “I think it’s time to let the young people take over and let them see what it’s all about. It’s time to have time for myself.”
The 62-year-old, who spends her days answering phone calls from constituents and welcoming visitors to the office, earned the nickname “Miss Kansas” while working for former Kansas Rep. Jim Slattery (D). Despite that description, she’s actually a Washingtonian, born and raised.
“She took an interest in getting to know the people of Kansas,” Slattery said. “I may have given her that nickname. I know it came from our office.”
Growing up in the city, she never thought she would have anything to do with Congress, let alone work for its Members.
After she graduated from Eastern High School in 1966, she went to work for the American Council on Education. That’s where she remained for 17 years until 1983, when the higher education organization went through budget cuts and she was laid off. She was out of a job and, as a single mother, needed to support her daughter, Tamika.
A neighbor who worked in Longworth House Office Building’s post office mentioned that the House of Representatives, then in its 98th session, was hiring. Anderson went in, took a typing test and filled out a questionnaire. She was told that there was an opening in Slattery’s office. After an interview with the Representative’s staff, she was asked to start the next day. And just like that, her career on Capitol Hill began.
The years have been good to her. Thanks to her job and connections, she’s attended receptions (“I’m going to miss those”) and met people ranging from then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 (“She just walked right up to him and told him she wanted to take a picture,” recalls Brandon Naylor, Moore’s communications director) to Fred Rogers, better known as TV show host Mister Rogers (“Oh, he was my favorite,” she said).
Slattery, who represented Kansas’s 2nd district from 1983 to 1995, fondly recalls the time that Anderson was the person behind the front desk of his office, calling her one of the most dedicated employees he ever had.
“When someone walks into a Congressional office, that first impression is so important,” he said. “They set the mood. I trusted her and she never disappointed.”
That’s what has made her a standout among the Hill crowd. Yes, she’s a hard worker — but she’s nice, too.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.