Belland is constantly aware that everything she does is a reflection on Kline, who, she said, as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, gets more appearance requests than other members she’s previously worked for.
It’s no surprise that Janelle Belland, scheduler for Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., was voted most conservative in her high-school class senior year.
“I had a photo of Bob Dole in my locker in high school,” Belland said, perhaps ironic now that the former Republican senator from Kansas has said the GOP might be too conservative even for him.
Belland grew up in White Bear Lake, Minn., and attended an all-girls convent high school, where she was encouraged by teachers who “really wanted women to have a voice,” she said.
Later, she took her interest in government to the University of Dayton in Ohio, where she majored in political science and took every available opportunity to show up in Washington, landing herself an internship with then-Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz. That put her in the position of being able to take a full-time position with Renzi when her internship was over.
“I was graduating, and they needed a scheduler,” Belland said. “So they hired me, I went back to Ohio, graduated, then came out here like a week later, started scheduling and just got kind of thrown into it.”
But Belland offers up an unusual confession for someone whose job it is to schedule the activities of a busy member of Congress.
“I’m not the most punctual person,” she sheepishly admitted.
But, she said, she doesn’t let that get in the way of her job and, despite her personal struggles with punctuality, nearly always gets to the office each morning before Kline arrives.
“I just always really liked, kind of, the behind-the-scenes work of Washington,” Belland said.
And although Belland does do such behind-the-scenes work on Capitol Hill, she is in some ways the face of Kline’s office, and a very happy face at that — the kind of person that would put you in a good mood right off the bat — which is helpful when constituents arrive at Kline’s door.
“I think I have a pretty good read on people,” she said. “So I can tell if they come in and if they’re upset about, you know, that they’re not meeting with Mr. Kline.”
And sometimes it’s the little things like that — putting a frustrated visitor at ease, making sure there are the correct number of chairs for each individual meeting, turning the lights on in the congressman’s office before he gets to work, watching the clock during appointments and events — that make a day flow so smoothly.