GUARD DUTY. The 111th Congress may be one of the most polarized yet, but some committees are more prone to partisan feuding than others. "Compared to what I have heard about other committees," the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee "is very collegial and cooperative," says Lucinda Lessley, recently appointed legislative director for Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md. "We've had good relationships, by and large, with our counterparts in the minority," Lessley says. "Traditionally, infrastructure has been generally bipartisan." Born in Paducah, Ky., Lessley moved to Wichita, Kan., at age 10 when her father took a job administering GI Bill benefits to service personnel. She majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, and then taught English for a year at a secondary school outside Frankfurt, Germany, as a Fulbright Scholar. Lessley later earned a master's in public policy from the London School of Economics, launching her career in government. She did a stint as a budget and transportation analyst for the Maryland General Assembly before joining Cummings' office as a legislative assistant in January 2005. She ran for Maryland delegate in 2006, but lost in the Democratic primary. Lessley is enthralled by working in the Capitol. "Whenever I've had the occasion to be on the floor, I always think ... this is sort of the altar; it embodies the provisions laid down in the Constitution about how government should work -- it's amazing to witness that." After hours, she plays for the "Baltimore Oracles" softball team, alongside several colleagues from the Hill.
BUSY McBEES. Betsy Phillips, formerly a professional staff member with the House Appropriations Committee, is the new executive vice president of the defense and security practice at McBee Strategic. In addition to her work for the committee, Phillips developed and oversaw the civilian portion of the Joint Campaign Plan while serving at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq in 2007. She received both her bachelor's and a master's in public administration from the University of West Florida. She also did post-graduate work at George Washington University. Also joining McBee Strategic is Kathy Mitchell, who has been named vice president of the firm's financial services practice. Mitchell was previously federal affairs director for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. She is also a veteran of the Hill, having served as deputy chief of staff for former Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., and as a senior legislative assistant for Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla. Mitchell began her career as a legislative analyst at the American Cancer Society. She is an alumna of the University of Oklahoma.
This article appears in the September 18, 2010, edition of NJ Daily.