What’s it like being a new Capitol Hill press secretary?
“It’s going pretty well — a little bit like drinking from a fire hose,” Jordan Haverly said.
Haverly was appointed press secretary for Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., in February. With the benefit of a few months’ experience, he explained, “It’s busy. There’s always something happening, always stuff to watch — the news cycle never stops.”
Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have flipped the 24-hour news cycle into overdrive.
Haverly recalled working on the Hill when House Republicans were just starting to embrace new media after they lost their majority in 2006.
“We were in the minority then, so it was a great way to communicate when we couldn’t always capture the narrative in the mainstream media,” Haverly said. “We could communicate with people through other outlets and get our message out there.”
Haverly started working on the Hill as an intern in Shimkus’ office in 2006, the summer after his freshman year of college at American University. He hails from rural Pennsylvania, but joined the Illinois Republican’s office when he heard of an opening from a fraternity brother who had also interned with Shimkus.
As Haverly progressed through college, he stayed on at Shimkus’ office, becoming a staff assistant and a legislative correspondent by the time he graduated.
“I was definitely busy,” Haverly said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to do it now, but AU makes it a little bit easier because a lot of people have internships and jobs while they’re going to school there.”
American University was the only school Haverly applied to because he knew he wanted to come to Washington, D.C., and work for Congress. He was fascinated by politics at a young age and credits his politically active family for sparking his interest in government.
Haverly’s mother is their home county’s chief tax assessor and has been involved in local politics throughout Haverly’s life.
“My mother had me walking in parades before I could really even walk. She’d carry me,” he said.
After graduating from American, Haverly became a scheduler in Shimkus’ office and discovered that he enjoyed delving into a wide variety of issues, which led him to the press side; he eventually made his way up to deputy press secretary.
In 2012, Haverly left the Hill for a short time to work as a senior online analyst for New Media Strategies. “I thought that was the next step at the time,” he said.
While he appreciated gaining a new perspective in the private sector, Haverly said he missed the pace and culture of working on the Hill. So, he leaped at the chance to return, this time as digital media director for the Financial Services Committee before ultimately coming back to Shimkus’ office.
“There’s so much opportunity to do great things here and to really — as idealistic as it sounds — to make the world a better place,” Haverly said.
That’s not to mention the added bonus of working in the same building as his fiancee, Tiffany McGuffee, communications director for Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. The couple met when they were both staff assistants on the Hill and will be married at the Capitol Hill Club this August. They live on the Hill and enjoy frequenting the restaurants on Barracks Row.
Haverly said he plans to stay in Washington for a while, since he is working at his dream job. He said having patience helped him rise through the ranks of staffers from intern to press secretary.
“You’ve got to put in the time, pay your dues,” said Haverly, “and it’s worth it in the end.”
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