THE LARAMIE KIDS. Dan Kunsman just started as chief of staff to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. Kunsman spent the past nine years as part of a communications and public affairs office based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., with Liz Brimmer, who was a chief of staff for the late Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. Kunsman had been press secretary to Thomas. Kunsman is excited about the new role partly because it was an unexpected job opportunity. "It wasn't something that I was looking to do -- to come back to Capitol Hill -- because I had done my tour," he says. Kunsman replaced Shawn Whitman, who has left for the private sector. Both are from Laramie, Wyo., and have been friends since they were children; Whitman worked with Kunsman in Thomas' office in the 1990s. Kunsman started out in 1991 as an intern for then-Rep. Thomas. "I don't know if it was the politics that drove me as much early on as it was the opportunity ... to be in Washington," Kunsman says. "It wasn't ideological for me. It was more about the experience."
MILLER TIME. Katherine Miller is now managing director of Hattaway Communications in Washington. She was most recently executive director of public affairs at the United Nations Foundation. She left that position in October and has done some vacationing and soul searching in the interim. "I was in Paris and Mexico and San Francisco. I really took a midcareer sabbatical to see what I wanted to do next," she says. Miller once worked as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times before getting heavily involved in Democratic politics. "I was like, 'Wait, you can get paid to do this stuff?' " She worked on a number of campaigns, or as she admits, "a lot of losing Democratic campaigns" between 1992 and 1998. She was deputy research director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1998 and eventually became research director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2000 election cycle under David Plouffe, who later became campaign manager for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential race. Miller is originally from the small town of Niceville in the Florida Panhandle, an area currently dealing with the effects of the BP oil spill. "My family has been there for over 50 years. They've owned restaurants and small businesses. And it's pretty devastating," she says. Miller is going back in August and she and her family are considering doing some community work to help out the region.
This article appears in the June 12, 2010, edition of NJ Daily.