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BORDER FOCUS. Driven by a passion for immigration issues, Nicole Dinis and Evelyn Rodriguez are ascending the ranks in the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. Dinis is settling into her role as senior legislative assistant, handling budget and appropriations issues and assisting with Gutierrez's work on the Judiciary Committee. Much of her time will be devoted to immigration and civil rights issues that are big concerns in Gutierrez's largely Hispanic Chicagoland district. Rodriguez has been promoted to legislative assistant from the role of legislative correspondent. Raised by a single mother, Rodriguez jumped into public service early on by working with Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, a national nonprofit focusing on mentorship for young minority women. She went on to found a WYSE chapter at Milwaukee's Marquette University, where she was an undergraduate. Her career on the Hill began with an internship in Gutierrez's office when she was a senior, which led to a fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and her current position. In her new role, Rodriguez will handle foreign affairs, taxes, transportation and financial services, but like Dinis, she expects to focus on immigration reform.

HHS-BOUND. Jim R. Esquea, an analyst for the Democratic staff of the Senate Budget Committee, was confirmed by the Senate this week as assistant HHS secretary for legislation. Esquea had been with the Budget Committee since 1999, and before that he worked for five years as a health analyst at the OMB in the Clinton administration. Esquea holds a master's degree in public administration from Columbia University.


TOP SERVICE. President Obama announced Thursday he would nominate Marguerite W. Kondracke and John Podesta to the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a public-private partnership established in 1993. Kondracke is president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance, created in 1997 by former Secretary of State Colin Powell to promote the well-being of America's young people. She has extensive experience in the private and public sectors, first as CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions and later as special assistant to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as well as staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Children and Families Subcommittee. Kondracke is an alumna of Duke University and received her master's degree in psychology from Tennessee's Austin Peay State University. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, and he co-chaired Obama's transition to the White House.

This article appears in the June 26, 2010 edition of NJ Daily.

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