Hillin' With Shadow Staffer Jill Gerber
Jill Gerber is a rarity on the Hill. She's worked as a staffer for the same congressman -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa -- for more than a decade, and has no plans to bolt to K Street, where her knowledge and connections could bring a big payday.
The communications manager and senior writer belongs to the class of shadow staffers who make the trains run on time and eschew the spotlight. Gerber, 45, is a press person who's never been profiled.
She started out as a newspaper reporter in South Carolina, and came to Washington to work for Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C. In 1998, she joined Grassley, who's now a six-term lawmaker and ranking member of the powerful Senate Judiciary committee.
Gerber's an all-purpose press person, working on everything from government waste in housing to the "Fast and Furious" gun-running sting.
"It's like being in a college class every day," she says. "I love being exposed to so many different areas. I think if I were to work for an association or company, I might have a much more limited scope."
Her guiding philosophies include being thorough, remembering what it's like to be a reporter and to "stop talking when I don't know the answers."
Working for Grassley is fun, she says. He teases her "relentlessly" to marry her longtime boyfriend, who lives in New York City. "He's even talked to my boyfriend's father" to try and get the ball rolling, Gerber says. Her boss claims he's reserved the Iowa church where he married for the wedding.
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y. and Charlotte, N.C.
College: Journalism degree from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Can't-live-without: Coffee and iPod.
Favorite spot in Washington: Capitol steps facing the Mall, before they were closed to the public.
Secret obsessions: Motown, old school R&B and neosoul music (including John Legend).
Photo: Jill Gerber, the communications manager and senior writer for Sen. Chuck Grassley, speaks in the senator's Washington D.C. office on June 15, 2012. Credit: Chet Susslin/National Journal.