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Roll Call

Hill Favorite ‘Miss Kansas’ Retiring After 28 Years

Tom Williams/Roll Call

People know who Miss Kansas is.

Shes that voice carrying down the seventh floor hallway of the Longworth House Office Building.

Shes that friendly face in line at the cafeteria.

And now, after 28 years of working for three Members, shes retiring.

Ive had my thrill on Capitol Hill, said Carolyn Anderson, special assistant to Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.). I think its time to let the young people take over and let them see what its all about. Its 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, shes 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. Thats 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 Buildings 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 Slatterys office. After an interview with the Representatives 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, shes attended receptions (Im 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, Moores communications director) to Fred Rogers, better known as TV show host Mister Rogers (Oh, he was my favorite, she said).

Slattery, who represented Kansass 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.

Thats what has made her a standout among the Hill crowd. Yes, shes a hard worker but shes nice, too.

David Carlin, the son of former Kansas Gov. John Carlin, was an intern in Slatterys office under Anderson. He described her has having a larger-than-life personality.

She always gives you a great, big hug, said Carlin, now a lawyer in D.C. Thats something that typically doesnt happen on the Hill.

For Naylor, the most important thing he learned from four years of working with Anderson was to always be nice to people. Kindness, Anderson likes to say, gets you everywhere.

Shell call up the superintendents office with a request, and its here in five minutes, he said. When shes walking around the hallway, everyone calls her Miss Carolyn or Miss Kansas.

At Naylors description, Anderson just laughs and says, I guess they just have respect for me.

When Naylor walked into Moores office during August recess four years ago, he remembers her poking her head over the top of her desk, asking him if he was all right and if he needed anything.

Now, he calls her his D.C. mom and hes her kid on the side.

Those are the kinds of relationships she developed over the years. She keeps in contact with Slattery and his family, as well as interns and other staffers shes worked with over years.

And its paid off. Between the years that Slattery left Congress and Moore was elected, she worked for former Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.).

Howard Bauleke, who had worked in both Slatterys and McCarthys office, became Moores chief of staff and suggested Anderson apply for a job in the Representatives office. Years of working with Bauleke had taught Anderson one thing: They got along well. In fact, their famed banter and jokes about being a married couple continue to this day. 

In addition, he got her back to working for the Kansas delegation, something she has enjoyed and will miss in her retirement.

Moore, a law school friend of Slatterys, hadnt known about Anderson and her reputation until she started working for him. But hes glad he hired her.

If theres one thing I can say is my favorite thing about Miss Kansas, its her smile, he said. Whenever you walk in the door, she always has this big smile on her face.

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