Vince Morris, the new communications director for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, advises Hill insiders to be involved with activities outside the office.
Have no doubt that Communications Director Vince Morris can dish valuable advice on working in Washington, D.C., a place he has called home for almost 15 years. But his best advice to staffers is to do the unthinkable on Capitol Hill: Create an active personal life outside of work.
“Or else you just go crazy,” he said.
The 44-year-old started with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) in January, but it’s hardly his first press gig. He moved over from the House Rules Committee, where he was communications director for two years. “It was sort of like the traffic signal for the House floor, since every single bill has to go through the Rules Committee on the House side,” he said.
Before that, he worked for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a fellow native of the Bay State.
Working on the press side of politics came naturally to Morris; he was a reporter for 15 years. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in journalism, he worked at several local daily papers throughout Maryland and North Carolina before he secured a spot at the New York Post. In his career, Morris has covered everything from forest fires and NASCAR to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the Iraq War.
After a decade and a half of reporting, Morris said he decided it was time for a change. He knew he wanted to stay in Washington — his wife is a District native — so in 2007, he began working on the Hill. But he wasn’t entirely removed from journalism. “There’s a lot of changes, but you still have some of the same, friendly connections with people,” he said.
Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has not only a loyal following of constituents but also a loyal following of employees, some of whom have worked for the Senator for more than 10 years, Morris said.
By night, Morris calls himself Dad, a member of the PTA and a scuba diver. Morris is involved in his daughters’ Capitol Hill public school. He is co-chairman of the PTA’s advisory board.
When he’s not busy planning tropical vacations that revolve around scuba diving, Morris volunteers at the local library, where he is president of Friends of the Northeast Library.
“I’m pretty hands-on,” he said. “I make time to get to the schools, to volunteer at the library, to do stuff outside of work.”
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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.