Webb’s Office Up and Running

Posted February 2, 2007 at 3:56pm

When Hill Climbers last visited Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-Va.) office, we featured the appointment of Webb’s top dog on Capitol Hill, Chief of Staff Paul Reagan. Now Webb has filled in his leadership team with a cadre of savvy veterans. [IMGCAP(1)]

Michael Sozan, 38, will act as Webb’s legislative director.

Before joining Webb’s team, Sozan was the counsel for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) since 2004. From 2001 to 2003 he was an associate at the law firm of Arnold & Porter, and from 2000 to 2001 he worked as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. He also worked as an attorney at the Department of Justice from 1996 to 1999 and a law clerk for Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Larry Elder from 1994 to 1996.

The Clifton, Va., native wrote in an e-mail that when he was a child he “lived for periods of time behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in communist Hungary.”

Sozan earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary in 1991 and a law degree from The George Washington University in 1994.

Serving as the communications director for Webb is Jessica Smith, 29. Smith previously served as the traveling spokeswoman for Webb for Senate. [IMGCAP(2)]

Before stumping for Webb, Smith worked for Fenton Communications as the account director for organizations such as MoveOn.org, Win Without War and the 2005 “Vote for Change” concerts. Before that, she was the director of Campaign to Defend the Constitution. She also worked as the communications director for the Congressional campaign of Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.); campaign manager for Ann Hutchinson for Congress; research analyst in Nigeria for Ginsberg Lahey Research; scheduler for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.); Wisconsin political director for former Vice President Al Gore’s (D) 2000 presidential campaign; assistant to former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe at the 2000 Democratic Convention; and for the political department of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

So what talents are required to obtain such a résumé in such short a time period? Smith shed a little light in an e-mail.

“My parking karma is second to none,” she wrote.

From Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Smith graduated from Cornell University with a degree in government in 1999.

If you want to get on Webb’s schedule, there may be no more important person to know than Lisa Stark, 27, who serves as Webb’s director of scheduling.

Before joining Webb’s team, Stark learned the trade of scheduling in the office of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). First serving as an assistant scheduler to Granholm’s transition team in 2002, Stark went on to work as deputy scheduling director and lead advance for Granholm’s gubernatorial office and as scheduling director for Granholm’s re-election campaign. She also served as inaugural coordinator for the 2007 Granholm Cherry Inaugural Committee.

Yet none of this was expected when Stark was in middle school.

“I went to a middle school for performing arts,” Stark wrote in an e-mail. “We spent half of our school days in singing, acting and dancing classes!”

From West Bloomfield, Mich., Stark graduated from James Madison College with a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2003 and expects to go on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.

Speaking of all the staff he has hired since coming to the Senate in January, Webb said in a statement: “I am extremely pleased that this outstanding team has agreed to serve Virginia and our nation in the coming six years.”

Two for Team Bono. Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) has hired a couple of new staffers.

Veteran Bono staffer Chris Foster, 28, has returned to the office to serve as Bono’s deputy chief of staff and legislative director.

Before rejoining Bono’s team, Foster worked on the legislative staff in the office of Native American and Insular Affairs on the House Resources Committee since 2003. Before that, he worked for Bono as her senior legislative assistant from 2001 to 2003 and as her campaign manager in 2000. He also interned for Bono while in college, where he initially made a big boo-boo.

“I interned for the Congresswoman during my time at Michigan State University,” he wrote in an e-mail, “and one of my first official actions in the office was accidentally hanging up on CNN’s Larry King.”

Foster continued by noting the obvious.

King “wasn’t very happy about that, which he expressed upon calling back.”

Despite his initial setback in the office, Foster obviously proved himself enough to be hired by Bono on multiple occasions. Perhaps it is Foster’s propensity to eat pigeons that allowed Bono to overlook his initial faux pas.

“I’ve also had the rare experience of eating pigeon in the Republic of Palau,” he wrote in an e-mail. Maybe some experiences are rare for very good reason.

Born in Glasgow, Ky., Foster graduated from Michigan State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in political theory and constitutional democracy.

Also joining the office is Amy Ingham, 24, who will serve as legislative correspondent.

In an e-mail, Ingham wrote that “in addition to managing all constituent correspondence, I work as the Congresswoman’s legislative assistant in the areas of banking, government operations, small business, NASA, postal operations, science and faith-based organizations.”

Prior to joining the office, Ingham was a staff assistant for the House Small Business Committee. She also briefly worked as the assistant to the chief of staff in the office of Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.).

A native of Palm Springs, Calif., Ingham graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in business administration in 2005.

New Gig for ex-Burns Aide. Matt Mackowiak, 27, recently left the Hill to become an associate at Burson Marsteller, a public affairs and public relations firm.

Before making the move to the private sector, Mackowiak had worked as the press secretary for recently dethroned Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) since the end of 2005. For most of 2005, Mackowiak worked for President Bush’s advance team. During the 2004 presidential election, he was the Linn County Manager for Bush-Cheney ’04. From 2003 to 2004 he worked as a press aide for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In an e-mail, Mackowiak boasted a feat almost too remarkable to believe.

“I have watched every single episode of Hardball since 2001 (pre-Tivo!!!),” he wrote. One word comes to mind: Wow!

From Austin, Texas, Mackowiak earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003.