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Margaret Everson, new Chief Policy Officer with Ducks Unlimited.
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Lucia Graves, Matt Vasilogambros and Laura Ryan
Feb. 6, 2015, midnight

Mar­garet Ever­son

Margaret Everson, new Chief Policy Officer with Ducks Unlimited. (Chet Susslin) National Journal

Killing a duck isn’t the top item on most pro­fes­sion­al To Do lists. But when Mar­garet Ever­son began her new job as chief policy of­ficer for Ducks Un­lim­ited, the task ranked high among her press­ing pri­or­it­ies. And so it was that early Janu­ary found her on a North­ern Cali­for­nia ranch that be­longs to one of her new col­leagues, squat­ting low in a duck blind at day­break, steady­ing a 20-gauge shot­gun and watch­ing the sky.

The ex­ped­i­tion wasn’t an in­stant suc­cess. “I can tell you this, she missed more than she hit,” says her tu­tor for the day, the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s West Coast re­gion­al dir­ect­or, Mark Biddle­comb. As the morn­ing grew bright­er, and gun­shots fol­lowed by Biddle­comb’s cries of “no bird” be­came a man­tra, Ever­son began to pity the bored Lab­rador re­triev­er who ac­com­pan­ied them, she says.

But you can’t very well help run a ma­jor duck-hunt­ing or­gan­iz­a­tion without ever hav­ing hunted a duck. “I was go­ing to get a bird, that much was clear,” Ever­son tells me back in Wash­ing­ton, when I meet her by her down­town of­fice. When I ask if she fi­nally ac­com­plished her mis­sion, she pulls up the di­git­al evid­ence on her smart­phone. There she is, her camo hunt­ing gear blend­ing in­to the cluster of reeds be­hind her, proudly hold­ing up a brown, limp-necked North­ern Shov­el­er.

Ducks Un­lim­ited, which Ever­son joined this past Decem­ber, is an in­ter­na­tion­al non­profit ded­ic­ated to pre­serving wa­ter­fowl and the wet­lands that sup­port them — chiefly to en­sure that those who like to hunt ducks have an “un­lim­ited” sup­ply of birds at their dis­pos­al. Foun­ded in 1937, the group es­pouses a philo­sophy that bears a cer­tain re­semb­lance to that of Teddy Roosevelt, the Re­pub­lic­an hunter and out­spoken con­ser­va­tion ad­voc­ate who greatly ex­pan­ded fed­er­ally pro­tec­ted lands dur­ing his pres­id­ency. The or­gan­iz­a­tion’s small Wash­ing­ton of­fice, which Ever­son now heads, is made up of four re­gistered lob­by­ists and an as­sist­ant, and its dé­cor is very much “Duck Dyn­asty” meets K Street. When I vis­it, there are ducks on the walls, the couches, and the shelves — and C-SPAN on the TV.

Though some might see a con­tra­dic­tion in a group ded­ic­ated to sav­ing ducks so people can blow them out of the sky, oth­ers say the Mem­ph­is-based or­gan­iz­a­tion, which has con­served more than 13 mil­lion acres of wet­lands in North Amer­ica since its cre­ation, and boasts a mem­ber­ship of about 600,000 in the United States, is a valu­able ally on cer­tain en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues. Ken Salaz­ar, who worked with the group dur­ing his time as In­teri­or sec­ret­ary, told me that Ducks Un­lim­ited is “a uni­fy­ing force among con­ser­va­tion or­gan­iz­a­tions,” be­cause it can cross par­tis­an lines and “tran­scend polit­ic­al grid­lock in Wash­ing­ton.” (Those al­li­ances are in­creas­ingly valu­able to Ducks Un­lim­ited’s core con­stitu­ency as well, Ever­son notes, as the num­ber of hunters in the coun­try has waned.)

“In my life­time, I’ve seen Ducks Un­lim­ited work all over the coun­try,” Salaz­ar says, re­call­ing his ef­forts with the group to pre­serve the Dakota grass­lands and prair­ie potholes. “They are a hunt­ing or­gan­iz­a­tion,” he adds, “and that’s fine with me.”

Ever­son her­self is the em­bod­i­ment of the span-two-worlds ap­proach. Born in Mor­gan­town, West Vir­gin­ia, she plays up a child­hood spent fish­ing and ex­plor­ing the out­doors, but she’s def­in­itely more at home in Wash­ing­ton than in a duck blind. An en­vir­on­ment­al law­yer by trade, she spent four years work­ing at the In­teri­or De­part­ment’s so­li­cit­ors of­fice, provid­ing leg­al ana­lys­is and policy ad­vice on mat­ters per­tain­ing to the Ever­glades and South Flor­ida eco­sys­tem. She found her­self in an of­fice full of ducks after a brief stint as a con­sult­ant, be­fore which she served as as­sist­ant at­tor­ney gen­er­al in Ken­tucky and then gen­er­al coun­sel for the Ken­tucky Fish and Wild­life Re­sources De­part­ment.

But it was her two-year ap­point­ment by the In­teri­or sec­ret­ary in 2006 — to serve as a coun­selor for Dale Hall, then head of the Fish and Wild­life Ser­vice, and now the CEO of Ducks Un­lim­ited — that would set her path to the present. The bet­ter part of a dec­ade later, Hall would de­cide he wanted to work with her again. An­noun­cing her hire in Decem­ber, Hall praised her “deep con­nec­tions in the con­ser­va­tion com­munity” and her ex­per­i­ence design­ing and im­ple­ment­ing con­ser­va­tion ad­vocacy ef­forts with gov­ern­ment­al bod­ies and non­gov­ern­ment­al stake­hold­ers.

Does Ever­son worry that she’ll get bored with her new group’s nar­row fo­cus? On the con­trary, she says, she’s thrilled to work for an or­gan­iz­a­tion with a spe­cif­ic pur­pose. “When you have such a defined scope to your mis­sion,” Ever­son ex­plains, “it’s very easy to ad­voc­ate and rep­res­ent your mem­bers’ in­terests.”

— Lu­cia Graves

Dav­id Turet­sky

David Turetsky, new partner at the Akin Group. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Dav­id Turet­sky re­mem­bers well the day in Janu­ary 2013 when someone hacked the gov­ern­ment’s emer­gency broad­cast sys­tem. TV sta­tions blas­ted out the mes­sage that zom­bies were rising from the grave and warned the pub­lic to stay in­side. Turet­sky was the head of pub­lic safety and home­land se­cur­ity for the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion at the time, and he was not a happy man.

“While the mes­sage was amus­ing and people were able to dis­cern that it was false, it was a par­tic­u­lar con­cern that those sys­tems were ac­cess­ible to hack­ers,” he says. “It was a spe­cial con­cern that it was a day be­fore the State of the Uni­on, be­cause I was con­cerned about that hap­pen­ing with the pres­id­ent’s face on the tele­vi­sion.”

Turet­sky says he aler­ted oth­er agen­cies across the gov­ern­ment, and of­fi­cials were ul­ti­mately able to identi­fy the equip­ment that had been com­prom­ised. It turned out that the de­fault pass­words provided by the sup­pli­ers hadn’t been changed — which is not the kind of er­ror any­one ser­i­ous about cy­ber­se­cur­ity should make. Turet­sky’s mini-“War of the Worlds” mo­ment re­af­firmed his strong be­lief in the need to teach oth­ers about the threat posed by a lax at­ti­tude to­ward cy­ber­se­cur­ity, in­clud­ing the risks to both na­tion­al se­cur­ity and the eco­nomy. In April, that con­vic­tion, coupled with the ex­pert­ise he de­veloped at the FCC, took the Para­mus, New Jer­sey, nat­ive to law firm Akin Gump.

In or­der to un­der­stand what he does for cli­ents at his new job, Turet­sky says, it helps to un­der­stand what he did in his old one. At the FCC, he was the point man on everything from restor­ing 911 ser­vices in North­ern Vir­gin­ia after they were knocked out by the 2012 derecho, to con­vin­cing net­works to open up their Wi-Fi ser­vices after the Bo­ston Mara­thon bomb­ing so people could send “I’m OK” mes­sages to their loved ones. When Hur­ricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, Turet­sky needed to help en­sure that cell-phone com­pan­ies had fuel to keep their gen­er­at­ors op­er­at­ing and broad­casters had ac­cess to their sta­tions in evac­u­ated areas, so he slept on an air mat­tress in his FCC of­fice. “We didn’t know, even in this area, what the roads would be like the next day,” Turet­sky says. “The FCC chair­man did the same thing,” he adds, smil­ing, “but he had a couch in his of­fice.”

As a part­ner in Akin Gump’s pub­lic law and policy prac­tice, Turet­sky, 57, is now bring­ing his ex­per­i­ence with tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions emer­gen­cies to the private sec­tor — spe­cific­ally, by try­ing to help his cli­ents pre­vent them. The re­cent Sony hack is a good ex­ample of why com­pan­ies should be look­ing to ree­valu­ate their cy­ber­se­cur­ity sys­tems and as­sess the risks, he says. A se­cur­ity breach can not only com­prom­ise con­sumer pri­vacy or cor­por­ate strategy; it can also com­prom­ise a busi­ness’s repu­ta­tion — which is something not all com­pan­ies un­der­stand. “It’s im­port­ant for com­pan­ies to get the whole pic­ture,” Turet­sky says. But it is also im­port­ant, he adds, “for poli­cy­makers to un­der­stand that, just like gov­ern­ment, com­pan­ies don’t have in­fin­ite re­sources and have to as­sess risks and make choices. And there are no per­fect an­swers.”

Turet­sky’s work isn’t just about help­ing in­di­vidu­al cli­ents. While he cer­tainly knows that gov­ern­ment has a ma­jor role to play in pro­tect­ing the eco­nomy and crit­ic­al in­fra­struc­ture from cy­ber­at­tacks, he says get­ting cor­por­a­tions to take the is­sue ser­i­ously is no sec­ond­ary con­cern — not least of all be­cause most of that crit­ic­al in­fra­struc­ture is privately, not pub­licly, owned. At the FCC, he helped shape and im­ple­ment a 2013 ex­ec­ut­ive or­der through which the pres­id­ent in­creased in­form­a­tion-shar­ing and co­ordin­a­tion on crit­ic­al in­fra­struc­ture between the pub­lic and private sec­tors, but he be­lieves that much more must be done, and not all of it can be done by gov­ern­ment. “What they’re talk­ing about in the pub­lic policy arena will give some more shape, will provide some more tools, but it’s not a sil­ver bul­let for this prob­lem,” he says. “This is go­ing to take fo­cus in the private sec­tor.”

His new job will in­clude spread­ing that gos­pel and help­ing to en­sure that busi­nesses have com­pre­hens­ive cy­ber­se­cur­ity plans that in­clude edu­cat­ing their work­ers, as­sess­ing their sup­ply chains, and cre­at­ing cy­ber­se­cur­ity teams be­fore a crisis — not dur­ing one.

“This will en­able me to work on the oth­er side of the table with com­pan­ies, to try to help them en­hance cy­ber­se­cur­ity, to be ready to deal with those mo­ments when prob­lems arise,” he says, “and hope­fully con­trib­ute to rais­ing read­i­ness and con­trib­ut­ing to some of the great eco­nom­ic suc­cess that is pos­sible if we can man­age this is­sue.”

RE­PUB­LIC­AN SHOPS

Barney Keller

Barney Keller is the new executive vice president of Jamestown Associates. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Linda Stender is a spend­er” is the tagline of one of Barney Keller’s fa­vor­ite polit­ic­al ads. Jamestown As­so­ci­ates pro­duced it in 2008 for Re­pub­lic­an Le­onard Lance’s New Jer­sey con­gres­sion­al cam­paign, when Keller was a young polit­ic­al op­er­at­ive. The ad played off a sim­il­ar cam­paign Jamestown had put to­geth­er for Re­pub­lic­an Mike Fer­guson, who ran against Stender in 2006. Stender lost both races. “It just shows you the power of the mes­sage that isn’t just words, that de­liv­ers words in a way that con­nects with people,” Keller says. “Any-one could have done an ad that said Linda Stender voted for spend­ing in­creases and tax in­creases. But I think every­one re­mem­bers that Linda Stender is a spend­er.” As a new ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent for Jamestown As­so­ci­ates, Keller will now be help­ing the Prin­ceton-based con­sult­ing group cre­ate ad­vert­ise­ments for Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates in the 2016 elec­tion. The Mas­sachu­setts nat­ive comes to his new gig from the Club for Growth, where he was com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or.

CON­SULT­ING GAME

Mar­cela Salaz­ar

Marcella Salazar, the new principal at the Raben Group. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Only three weeks in­to her new job at the Raben Group, a Demo­crat­ic con­sult­ing firm, Mar­cela Salaz­ar — a former pro­du­cer for CNN, CNN en Es­pañol, and Uni­visión — put her re­port­er’s cap back on to in­ter­view middle school­ers about their re­ac­tions to the movie Selma. The Raben Group had been work­ing with the March on Wash­ing­ton Film Fest­iv­al (star­ted in 2013 by Raben Group founder and pres­id­ent Robert Raben) to help send Wash­ing­ton pub­lic-school stu­dents to see the movie, as part of the “Selma For Stu­dents” fun­drais­ing ef­fort that began in New York City. With a film crew in tow, Salaz­ar, 36, was on hand to ask the kids what they thought. Their an­swers, she says, gave her goose bumps. She says one boy told her: “I didn’t know that vot­ing was a law, and I didn’t know that people died for that. I thought it was something you did if you wanted to. And now I know it’s my right when I turn 18, and no one can take it away from me.” The Chica­go nat­ive says the ex­per­i­ence re­minded her why she left the news busi­ness for a post as a prin­cip­al at the pub­lic-af­fairs shop: so she could take a stand on is­sues she cares about, and help her cli­ents do the same.

IN­TEREST GROUPS

James Balda

James Balda, president and CEO of the Assisted Living Federating of America. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

At his of­fice in Old Town Al­ex­an­dria, James Balda tells me he has re­cently star­ted to have a con­ver­sa­tion with his broth­ers that most fam­il­ies must even­tu­ally have: “How are we go­ing to make sure that our par­ents have care in the com­ing years?” It isn’t sur­pris­ing that the ques­tion is on his mind these days. Last month, Balda, 43, be­came pres­id­ent of the As­sisted Liv­ing Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica, an in­dustry group that ad­voc­ates for the op­er­at­ors of seni­or-liv­ing com­munit­ies. Balda comes to ALFA from the Na­tion­al Res­taur­ant As­so­ci­ation, where he was seni­or vice pres­id­ent of in­nov­a­tion and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. The Fair­fax, Vir­gin­ia, nat­ive has been an as­so­ci­ation pro­fes­sion­al for his en­tire ca­reer: “One of my best friends, his mom gave me a part-time job while I was work­ing my way through col­lege,” he re­calls. “She was an of­fice man­ager at the News­pa­per As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica. So I owe it all to her.”

AT THE BAR

Jack Sidorov

Jack Sidorov is the new senior counsel for Lowenstein Sandler LLP. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Shortly after Jack Sidorov joined the Justice De­part­ment in 1978, he began to work on the an­ti­trust law­suit that would break up tele­com gi­ant AT&T. Fast-for­ward 30 years, and Sidorov, 63, had be­come the de­part­ment’s top ex­pert on pre­mer­ger no­ti­fic­a­tion law — an area that deals with what in­form­a­tion com­pan­ies must provide to DOJ and the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion when seek­ing to merge. It may be an area of law that few people find in­ter­est­ing, Sidorov says, but those who do find it very in­ter­est­ing. And al­though he re­cently left the Justice De­part­ment to join law firm Lowen­stein Sand­ler, that’s ap­par­ently still the case for him: In his new job as a seni­or coun­sel in the firm’s Wash­ing­ton of­fice, Sidorov will con­tin­ue to prac­tice an­ti­trust law — just from the oth­er side of the fence.

Des­pite his long ca­reer, Sidorov says one of his proudest ac­com­plish­ments dates back to the days be­fore he passed the bar. The Long Is­land nat­ive says when he was a stu­dent at Har­vard Law School, he foun­ded the World Stick­ball As­so­ci­ation — an in­tra­mur­al league for base­ball’s urb­an sib­ling.

POLIT­IC­AL STRIPES

Missy Kur­ek

Missy Kurek is the finance director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Missy Kur­ek, 33, will stay on as deputy ex­ec­ut­ive for fin­ance at the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee for an­oth­er cam­paign cycle, the com­mit­tee an­nounced re­cently. She will also main­tain her role as a close ad­viser to Nancy Pelosi — which means she will con­tin­ue to be able to do one of the things she likes best about her job: travel around the coun­try with the House minor­ity lead­er to con­vince wo­men to throw their hats in­to the ring. “I re­mem­ber think­ing my mom should run for Con­gress after I got in­volved in polit­ics, be­cause she was such a good ne­go­ti­at­or,” the Texas nat­ive says. Her mom kept the peace in a “chaot­ic” house­hold of five chil­dren — four boys and one girl — over­saw the fam­ily’s fin­ances, and fed every­one all at once, she re­calls. Ac­com­plish­ing these tasks re­quires dip­lomacy and em­pathy, Kur­ek says — pre­cisely the kind of qual­it­ies she be­lieves mem­bers of the House need to suc­ceed.

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