Some VA employees attempt to steer clear of the political scene, knowing that what they see or hear on Capitol Hill could portray the department in an unfair or unflattering light. Mooney, 49, doesn't have that luxury. For the Virginia native and George Mason University alumnus, "each day starts focused on that day's congressional hearings and related engagements." It's her job to prepare VA officials for hundreds of congressional hearings, in which lawmakers will quiz them on programs, services, and operations. Nominated by President Obama in June 2009 and sworn in two months later, Mooney is uniquely qualified for the position, having worked as a Hill staffer for more than a decade, including a lengthy stint as chief of staff to then-Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore. But Mooney's service at the VA is informed by more than just her work experience. She is married to Paul Evans, a veteran who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her father, a retired Navy civilian, suffered from a nuclear-test-connected cancer after serving as an atomic veteran in the Marshall Islands. ("Atomic veteran" is the term for military personnel exposed to radiation.) "As the daughter of an atomic veteran," Mooney says, "working to improve the lives of the veterans we serve ... is the best reward."