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Hill Climbers: GOP Majority Is Draw for Staffers

Tom Williams/Roll Call
From left: Cielo Villasenor, DJ Jordan, Lori Salley, Wendy Knox and Andy Karellas have recently joined the Republican staff for the House Small Business Committee.

But she ultimately wanted to work on the Hill. In 2007, she landed a press secretary gig with former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.). Knox stayed with the Congressman until his retirement last year.

Since starting with the committee last month, Knox has sought advice from her husband, Jason, who works on the Senate Budget Committee.

Cielo Villasenor, the youngest of the group, was hired as press assistant and new-media coordinator. The 23-year-old Californian went to George Washington University, where she earned a degree in political science. During her time there, Villasenor did an internship with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and paralegal work for a law firm on K Street.

After graduation, Villasenor worked for Political Media Inc. as director of new media. But she has a long-standing interest in politics; at 16, she lobbied for a new library and community center in her hometown.

In 2009, Hunter hired Villasenor as staff assistant. She also handled social media, which has helped her in her current role. Villasenor has spearheaded the Small Business Committee’s new Facebook page.

Communications Director DJ Jordan, 33, may have an interest in politics, but he also has an interest in sports, which he actually pursued first. After graduating from Liberty University, where he played football, the Virginia native landed a job with Comcast SportsNet. Jordan worked as a production assistant there for two years.

In late 2003, Jordan moved to CNN to work as an electronic graphics operator for Wolf Blitzer’s show. The show inspired him to seek a more editorial job, and he eventually left to work for Fox News as a field producer and assignment desk editor, where he covered plenty of committee hearings.

While reporting on the Hill, Jordan realized he wanted to work there. He landed a gig with Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) in July 2008 and stayed on as communications director until he secured his post with the committee in February.

“That’s the story of my career: just getting bugs and coming closer and closer to fulfilling them,” he said.

Submit news of hires and promotions on Capitol Hill to Hill Climbers here.

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