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BREAK ON THROUGH. Lindsay Punzenberger, a longtime aide to Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., is the new assistant vice president at Venn Strategies, LLC. During six years in Petri's office, she helped the lawmaker forge a number of initiatives, including the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the direct loan program. Punzenberger grew up in Eau Claire, Wis., and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined Petri's staff as a scheduler in June 2004 while earning a master's in public policy at George Mason University in Virginia. Nine months into the job, Punzenberger got her first taste of the enmity sometimes directed at lawmakers. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which prohibits violence and intimidation on the part of animal rights activists, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, but the process was attended by a number of "threatening letters." Punzenberger's final year on the Hill was "the most interesting of my whole career, working on healthcare reform, cap-and-trade and then student loans," she says. "Congressman Petri was a big advocate of the direct loan program, one of very few Republicans." The controversial measure was eventually incorporated into this year's healthcare bill. At Venn, Punzenberger will advise clients in matters related to health care; she was attracted to the public affairs firm by a desire to engage the legislative process from "the other side." As for differences between Washington and her home state, "We deal with snow a lot better," she says. In Washington, "not a lot of people shovel their sidewalks right away. It's a little different in Wisconsin -- we're out there as soon as it starts snowing."

PRIVATE LIVES. Kathleen Barrón, 39, is ready to relearn how those in the private sector live. As vice president of federal regulatory affairs and policy, she will help Exelon Corp. -- one of the nation's largest public utilities -- devise strategies to help it achieve its policy goals. After studying policy and communications at American University, she entered law school at the University of Houston, where she explored energy policy and took advantage of the school's broad course offerings. After a stint at a private law firm, she spent four and a half years as deputy general counsel for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where she focused on electric power sales and corporate regulatory matters. Exelon represents her first foray into the private sector in several years. Barrón looks forward to working with climate change legislation and its potential effect on electricity production. Her spare time is spent tending to the hectic lives of her three children, aged 11, 8 and 6.


This article appears in the July 3, 2010 edition of NJ Daily.

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