Longtime Hill Staffer Retires

Posted October 5, 2004 at 3:27pm

After more than two decades on Capitol Hill, Lionel Collins Jr. is retiring from public life. Currently the chief of staff of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), Collins is leaving the Hill to work for the Jones Walker law firm in New Orleans.

Collins received his bachelor’s from the University of New Orleans and his law degree from Howard University. After completing his education, he worked for a number of different offices while in Washington, D.C.

He started his career on the Senate side of the Capitol, working in the Banking Committee for a few years, then for five years as a legislative assistant in then-Sen. Russell Long’s (D-La.) office. He then served for a year as legislative director for the Virgin Islands’ first Delegate, Ron de Lugo (D), and as legislative director and chief of staff for then-Rep. Pete Geren (D-Texas) for half of a decade.

In 1993, Collins joined Jefferson’s office as his chief of staff, working in that capacity until retiring last month. When asked about the various Members he has worked for, Collins said “I’ve always worked for gentlemen, and in that regard I’m very fortunate.”

Likewise, Jefferson had nothing but kind words for his departing staff member.

“I am so proud to have worked with an individual of Lionel’s character and ability these many years,” Jefferson said in a press release. “He has been the glue of this office and everyone who works with our office will miss him.”

Jefferson went on to say that he was “excited about the new opportunity that lies ahead” for Collins. At Jones Walker, Collins will focus on appropriations, tax and trade issues.

Collins feels that coming on board with Jones Walker “is a great opportunity for me to continue to work on projects that are important to my home state of Louisiana. … Jones Walker represents the city of New Orleans and I’ll get a chance to continue helping the people of Louisiana.”

Collins has worked on a number of issues near and dear to him while on the Hill. Although his focus has almost always been on domestic issues, he is particularly proud of work he did on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a bill that has “had a significant effect on trading” between our country and the continent.

When it comes to domestic issues, the most important to him certainly is health care. One of the main problems he tried to solve is that of persuading “people to

see the doctor when they’re not feeling good” in regular intervals to ensure they stay healthy. He also is concerned with the state of education across the country; along with health care, “making a dent in those two issues is the best way to help people.”

And helping others is what Collins thinks working on Capitol Hill is all about.

When asked if he had any advice for the fresh faces that regularly pop up in D.C., Collins said he tells “youngsters working around the Hill is a great job because you can help people.

“The greatest satisfaction you can feel is when a constituent calls and you are the only one who can help them.”