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July 27, 2010

BACK TO THE SWAMP. For Gabriela Domenzain, the new communications director at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, coming back to Washington brings things full circle. Domenzain grew up in Miami and studied public policy at the University of Chicago. After graduating in 1998, she brought her passion for Hispanic and civil rights issues to the National Council of La Raza in Washington, where she served as a liaison between state-level advocacy initiatives and NCLR headquarters. But a chance opportunity to work on a documentary looking at immigration in Arizona brought her into the media world. The project opened her eyes to the power of the media. It also showed her the need to provide information that would enable the country's exploding Hispanic population to make better-informed decisions. After earning a master's in journalism from New York University, Domenzain returned to Miami to help launch Al Punto, a Sunday morning talk show by Univision. "If we saw anything throughout those years, it's how much this population of voters is in need of information, in need of understanding what's going on in their world," she says of her time at Univision. Now on the Hill, Domenzain sees the need for an improved communications strategy. "How do you explain to someone who's not a policy wonk, what the policy wonks are doing to help them? What's crucial to any movement, to any change, is people understanding and being on the same page and realizing their interests are being represented."

FOOD FLACK. Julian Baer, a former legislative assistant for the House Education and Workforce Committee, has been named nutrition affairs director at FoodMinds, a public relations firm with a bevy of clients in the food and beverage industry, including Kellogg Co. Baer was most recently a legislative assistant with Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC and has also worked at the Food Marketing Institute. He is a graduate of Hamilton College.

R&R TIME. After 40 years of service, Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb will retire from the Army on Oct. 1. Whitcomb is the Army's inspector general, and he has held several offices at the Pentagon, including executive officer for the vice chief of staff of the Army and deputy chief of staff for operations and plans. Whitcomb received a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, where he was commissioned through ROTC as a lieutenant. He was first stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and has been in several combat operations. Earlier this year, Whitcomb rose to prominence after his office conducted an investigation into mismarked graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Last week, House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton praised the retiring general on the House floor: "Throughout his lifetime of service ... Whitcomb has shown uncommon professionalism and dedication to the mission of the United States Army."

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