A Lucky Encounter

Posted January 25, 2008 at 5:16pm

Jaime Lizarraga was introduced to Kelly Werner, a fellow Hill staffer, at a reception to unveil the portrait of former Texas Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D). The two saw each other in passing for a year, but they never said hello.

[IMGCAP(1)]“I ignored her because I didn’t think she remembered me,” Lizarraga told Climbers in an e-mail. “Now that we’ve been married for almost eight years, she still gives me a hard time about how it took me a year to ask her out.”

Lizarraga recently started as the director of Member services for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). His responsibilities include acting as a liaison to new Members (in his words, “majority- makers”). He also works on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and acts as a senior adviser to Pelosi on financial services and housing policy issues.

He began his Capitol Hill career in the early 1990s, working for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. And for the past decade, he has worked for the Financial Services Committee. He spent the last half of that stint serving Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is now the chairman.

The 41-year-old father of two has another baby on the way but still finds time to play in a soccer league and to join regular pickup games. He follows the European leagues closely.

He’s also a deft electrician. “I’ve obsessively re-wired sections of our house and haven’t electrocuted myself — yet,” he said.

[IMGCAP(2)]His parents were migrant farm workers from Mexico, and he grew up on both sides of the border. He attended elementary and high school in Mexico, and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1988. He earned his master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990.

New Board for CAPASA. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association has announced its new board for the year.

Carmela Clendening will head up the organization as president. The Ellicott City, Md., native works as a director of advance and outreach adviser for Pelosi.

She is 27 years old and has a bachelor’s degree in government and politics and a certificate in Asian-American studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned both of those distinctions in 2002.

Clendening’s experience includes working for the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign in 2004. It was there that she met Pelosi, who quickly hired her.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity and an honor to work for the first woman Speaker of the House,” Clendening said.

She is a mentor with Everybody Wins at Tyler Elementary School on Capitol Hill, and she hopes to one day work in a field that allows her to combine her “passion for social justice issues and entertainment/fashion,” in something similar to the Product Red campaign to eliminate AIDS in Africa.

Victoria Tung is the vice president of CAPASA on the House side. She also serves as the executive director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Tung, 27, is from Menlo Park, Calif.

She completed a Congressional fellowship in the office of Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) through the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. After spending another year in Honda’s office working on “minority health disparities issues” through the California Endowment Scholars in Health Policy Fellowship, she was hired as the first executive director of CAPAC.

Her goals include earning a master’s degree in business administration and learning how to integrate her “passion for social justice and advocacy with socially responsible corporations and foundations,” she said. She is a reading mentor at Tyler Elementary through Everybody Wins.

Winnie Chang, from Palos Verdes, Calif., is the vice president of CAPASA on the Senate side. She is a Republican staffer for the Senate Budget Committee. Chang has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Riverside, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Washington.

Chang, 37, formerly served as a Republican appropriations analyst for the House Budget Committee. She has an ambitious future goal: to visit every presidential library.

Charles Dujon has a bachelor’s degree in history from Northwestern University and has been CAPASA treasurer for 10 years. He was elected as treasurer again this year.

Dujon is from Odessa, Texas, and serves as legislative director for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). Dujon also has experience in the office of Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) and has worked for the American Gas Association and the American Bankers Association.

His goals include “world peace and to learn to cook 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes,” he said in an e-mail. When asked about his embarrassing moments on the Hill, he said, “After more than a decade, there are too many to narrow it to just one.”

That’s not the only quirky thing about this 35-year-old.

“I wear bow ties on Thursdays,” Dujon said. “I started growing an appropriations beard long before they were en vogue. … My boss joined the Appropriations Committee in 1999 and every year since then, I have stopped shaving on October 1st, the start of the federal fiscal year, and I don’t shave again until the president signs the last appropriations bill. My hirsuteness has done wonders for my dating situation.”

Best of luck, Dujon.

Henry Truong, from Los Angeles, is the secretary of CAPASA and is a legislative correspondent and legislative aide for Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.). Truong also has experience with former Del. Robert Underwood (D-Guam), where he works in conjunction with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Berkley, in 2005.

Truong, 24, hopes to go to law school and continue to work in public service and policy. He also has a personal goal of backpacking on all seven continents.

Truong is an Everybody Wins volunteer, a member of the California Alumni Association, and a member of the Liberal Agenda team in the House Softball League. CLIMBERS

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