Hill Climbers: Lobbyist-in-Training

Posted July 15, 2008 at 4:40pm

It’s been two years since Meredith Regine worked as a lobbying intern, but she learned at least enough to persuade her father to break with his right-leaning views during this year’s primaries.

[IMGCAP(1)]“It was like pulling teeth to have my dad vote Democrat,” she said. “But he did vote for Hillary Clinton in the Rhode Island presidential primary,” she said.

Those persuasive skills should serve her well on the Hill, where she was recently promoted to junior legislative associate for labor policy in the majority office of the House Education and Labor Committee. She was the committee’s staff assistant before being promoted.

Regine, 23, is originally from Middletown, R.I. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in political science in 2006 and is pursuing a master’s in political management at George Washington University.

Work and classes keep Regine occupied, but she also manages to squeeze in softball games with team Fighthouse, running and visiting home in Rhode Island. She’s also looking to get involved in more community service projects — and as if that isn’t enough, “Once I am done with school, I plan on having a life again.”

James Schroll took over Regine’s staff assistant duties in June. The Charlottesville, Va., native received his political science degree in May from the University of Mary Washington and had several internships to prepare for his new job. His most memorable moment on the Hill came during a close encounter while running a message to the Senate.

“I was walking quickly and turned a corner near the elevators, only to be face to face with Sen. Robert Byrd [D-W. Va.]. I said hello and watched as an aide helped him through the Capitol,” Schroll recalled. “Coming into contact with politicians that I had only seen on television previously made this experience a reality.”

Schroll, 23, was interning with the Education and Labor Committee at the time. He said the experience from that summer solidified his decision to come back.

The committee’s new education policy staff assistant, Fred Jones, started his job in late May, and his enthusiasm still has not worn off. Jones, 24, praised his boss, Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), as “seeming like a very gregarious gentleman with a great sense of humor.”

The new staffer, who comes from Greenfield, Mass., can’t get enough of the city.

“I like them all,” he said of the neighborhoods in D.C. “I like downtown for its variety. I like Columbia Heights for its Latin food. I like U Street’s history. I like Southeast’s personality. I like the diversity of D.C.”

And he likes his job.

“Working in government is one of the most altruistic methods of improving society,” he said. “I want to be a part of history.”

Rachel Racusen stepped up to Democratic communications director at the beginning of the month after being with the press office for nearly two and a half years.

Racusen, 25, claims Boston as her hometown and graduated from Union College as a political science major in 2004.

Her new job exemplifies why she came to D.C. “I wanted to work in political communications and thought there was no better place to do it,” she said.

Racusen moved to Washington three and a half years ago, but the charm of the city has yet to wear off.

“It feels very easy to establish a community here. I love the feel of walking down the street and bumping into five people I know,” she said. “It’s also very nice to live in a place where everyone comes from a different part of the country, has an interesting story and are generally excited about what they do.”

Formerly with the Government Accountability Office, Jeff Appel joined the committee as senior education policy adviser and investigator in February after having spent a year working with them on detail from his former office, according to a committee press release.

Appel, 45, is originally from Arizona and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arizona. He earned a master’s in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University.

Appel worked with the GAO for 23 years on issues including K-12 education, labor, national service and environmental issues. He served as an assistant director in their Education, Workforce and Income Security group, where he managed research on postsecondary education issues since 2000.

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