Hill Climbers: From Wisconsin to Washington

Posted June 24, 2008 at 4:31pm

Even as a resident assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dawn Schueller was preparing for her future job on Capitol Hill.

[IMGCAP(1)]“You had to plan programs, advertise,” she said of her days as an RA. “It’s actually very good real-life training.”

That experience came in handy when Schueller began an internship with Sen. Herb Kohl’s (D-Wis.) office last summer, where she worked with the communications office writing press releases and making pitch calls. The hands-on experience helped her realize that she was in the right field.

Schueller made the permanent jump to Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago, when she was hired as a full-time staff assistant for Kohl.

Her new job includes “typical staff assistant work” such as answering phones and handling constituent mail, but she said she also hopes to work with the press department. Ideally, she’d like to get back into the communications side of politics.

“That would be one of my ultimate goals,” she said.

Schueller, 22, graduated in May with degrees in political science and journalism, but her interest in politics began before she got to college.

“I began interning and campaigning on [Kohl’s] 2000 campaign when I was going to be a freshman in high school in Wisconsin and fell in love with politics from there,” she said.

She has also interned for Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D).

She is only a few weeks into her new job and new city, so Schueller isn’t homesick for Wisconsin just yet.

“I miss my friends and family, but it hasn’t really been long enough to miss it,” she said. “Pretty much I love it out here.”

She is staying true to her roots when it comes to her favorite sports teams, though, and will remain a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks, along with the Green Bay Packers.

Help for a HELP Subcommittee. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) recently brought on Gerri Fiala as a staff director for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. Fiala will be involved in efforts to build a more highly skilled work force and preparing students to fill family-wage job openings in Washington state and throughout the country.

“I am extremely pleased to have Gerri joining my staff,” Murray said in a statement. “Gerri brings valuable experience on workforce and labor issues that will be critical as work to strengthen today’s labor force and build tomorrow’s.”

Fiala previously worked as director of workforce research at the National Center on Education and the Economy. She also spent 17 years with the Department of Labor.

Her new job includes heading Murray’s oversight and legislative efforts on the subcommittee. Fiala will continue to be involved in issues related to job training and education for high school students.

“I’ve long looked up to Sen. Murray as a champion for working Americans, particularly those who are not being treated fairly or given the opportunities they deserve,” Fiala said in a statement. “I’m excited to join her team and eager to help tackle the daunting challenges our workers face during these tough economic times.”

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