Capitol Hill can be a rough-and-tumble place, but Laura Sisemore has already skated through a shark tank.
The California native worked for the San Jose Sharks hockey team before joining the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) as press secretary.
Sisemore did not always plan on going into communications.
“At the end of my college career, I absolutely thought I was going to go to law school,” she said.
When her law school applications could not be completed because of an adviser who went on sabbatical before submitting her letters of recommendation, Sisemore decided to look for work instead.
After graduating from Stanford University, she worked at the university’s law school reunion program as a fundraiser. This experience allowed her to transition to working for the Sharks’ communications team.
“At the time, I was absolutely devastated,” she said about not attending law school, “but now, looking back ... it all ended up working out exactly as it should.”
She spent two years working for Stanford Law School before moving to her job in community outreach for the Sharks, a position that she said she found on Craigslist.
“I didn’t even know hockey, to be honest,” she said. “What I knew was fundraising.”
Sisemore said her time with the Sharks prepared her for working on the Hill. “Both are very fast-paced, up-and-down environments where success is really focused on ‘winning,’” she said.
She compared Quigley’s responsibility to his constituents to the Sharks’ responsibility to their fans.
“They feel, as they should, an ownership of the product,” she said. “They feel they have a stake in it, and they’re very vocal when they agree or disagree with how things are going.”
When she wasn’t hanging out with professional hockey players, Sisemore was competing in or advising for beauty pageants.
“There are a lot of people who give pageants a really bad rap for things that they perceive it to be,” she said, arguing that the Miss America program is based more on merit.
“For me, it was a really great opportunity to champion a cause,” she said, explaining that she got involved with her YWCA’s rape crisis center through pageants.
Participating in pageants also supplied her with skills that she uses every day in Quigley’s office.
“It gave me a really good chance to hone my interview and public speaking skills,” she said, “which, for a communications person, is pretty darn important.”
Despite the law school and hockey detours, Sisemore said she always imagined herself one day working in politics.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.