At the Bar
When Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., died last year of complications from pneumonia, his staff remained on the payroll for two months to help wrap up the late lawmaker’s work.
“He was 89 when he died, but it was still kind of a shock,” says Ben Dunham, Lautenberg’s chief counsel at the time. Once the office closed, Dunham took “a true vacation, with nothing hanging over my head, to reassess and figure out what I wanted to do next.”
After a trip to Croatia — where he asked his then-girlfriend to marry him — Dunham, 35, visited a handful of corporations, trade associations, and law firms in Washington before ultimately deciding on McKenna Long & Aldridge, where he took over last month as counsel in the federal government-affairs practice.
Dunham, who was raised in northern Alabama, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a law degree from the University of North Carolina.
Asked what brought him to Washington, he says, “I figured out pretty early on in law school that you could make a bigger difference actually writing the laws “¦ than you could arguing in front of a judge on how to interpret a law that’s already been written. I think that made the decision for me.”
Dunham spent five years in Lautenberg’s office, helping to draft a major rewrite of the Toxic Substances Control Act and to coordinate the senator’s response to Hurricane Sandy.
Christopher Snow Hopkins
At 19, Craig Albright was poised to enter the business world when he had an epiphany.
“I realized that I was literally watching C-SPAN for fun,” says Albright, who recently became vice president for legislative strategy at BSA | The Software Alliance.
So the Michigan State University undergraduate applied for an internship with then-state Rep. Jon Jellema of Michigan and was soon crafting legislation in place of Jellema’s main policy adviser when the latter went on maternity leave. Before Albright’s internship was over, Jellema had shepherded an infrastructure bill through the state House.
As vice president for legislative strategy — a newly created position — Albright will lead BSA’s lobbying efforts in two areas: intellectual property and data. He is the second senior hire by Victoria Espinel, who took over as president and CEO in October.
Albright spent the previous four years as a special representative at the World Bank, where he administered a global government-affairs program as a senior aide to Presidents Robert B. Zoellick and Jim Yong Kim.
Albright, 41, grew up in the Detroit suburbs, where his father was a corporate executive and his mother was the lead soprano for the Detroit Opera House. (As a boy, Albright was an extra in many of the troupe’s offerings, including The Marriage of Figaro.)
As a senior at Michigan State, Albright stayed with family friends in Washington while he implored lawmakers to give him a job, eventually winning over the top aide to then-Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich.
Starting as a low-level staffer, Albright climbed to the top of the pecking order, serving as chief of staff to Knollenberg and later to Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas.
Before moving to the World Bank, Albright served as deputy assistant for legislative affairs under Vice President Dick Cheney and then as special assistant for legislative affairs to President George W. Bush.
He is married to Mary Beth Albright, a former litigator at Williams & Connolly, who vaulted to stardom after appearing on a cooking competition show on the Food Network. “We can’t go to restaurants without people recognizing her or the manager coming out,” Craig Albright says.
Away from the office, Albright accompanies his 6-year-old son — “an absolute sports fanatic” — to Washington Nationals baseball games, George Washington University basketball games, and Woodrow Wilson High School baseball games. Every morning, his son races out to the doorstep to retrieve the newspaper and peruse the sports section.
In the Tanks
“Data visualization” may be a hot phrase among Washington professionals, but the concept is nothing new.
“More than 30,000 years ago, people were drawing on cave walls to communicate information about hunting and gathering,” muses Jonathan Schwabish, who is joining the Urban Institute as a senior researcher and a data-visualization expert. “I basically think of data visualization as “¦ graphs and visuals that effectively communicate information.”
At the Urban Institute, Schwabish will help the think tank’s cadre of policy experts move beyond prosaic graphics. “When most people create a chart with a tool like Microsoft Excel, they just use the defaults,” he says.
Schwabish, who comes to the Urban Institute from the Congressional Budget Office, will also pursue his own research, such as devising graphics to illustrate the byzantine Social Security benefit formula. A labor economist by training, he maintains that inventive graphics are now de rigueur among academics.
“In the world of economics, it used to be that a scholar would simply throw a line chart in his journal article and go on his merry way,” he says. “Now, there’s this acknowledgment that there are better ways to show data than have been recognized in the past.”
Schwabish, 37, learned data visualization through a “series of fortunate events,” he says, beginning with a one-day course taught by Yale University’s Edward Tufte, whom Schwabish calls the “godfather of modern data visualization.”
At the time, Schwabish was working on a CBO report about Social Security benefits that included an unwieldy spreadsheet. On Tufte’s advice, Schwabish embellished the data with a series of pie charts. “In a moment, you can look at this long display and you can immediately see which options did which,” Schwabish says.
Schwabish is a native of Buffalo, N.Y. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in economics from Syracuse University, where his dissertation consisted of three essays on inequality. Since arriving at CBO in 2005, he has published reports on earnings and income inequality, immigration, retirement security, data measurement, and food stamps.
Last year, House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., brandished one of Schwabish’s infographics during the annual long-term budget outlook meeting, prompting a writer for Fast Company to gush over the “go-getter in the Congressional Budget Office “¦ who’s trying to visualize a more sensible future.”
When he isn’t sword-fighting with his 5-year-old son, Schwabish conducts science experiments with his 7-year-old daughter.
Daniel Fabricant, who has returned to the Natural Products Association as its new CEO, is enamored of naturally occurring remedies.
“The things that come from nature — the compounds that come from nature — are just fascinating,” he says.
As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Fabricant wrote his doctoral dissertation on black cohosh, a flowering plant indigenous to the Great Smoky Mountains that has been used for centuries to treat menopause. “These plants are magical,” he says.
At the Natural Products Association, Fabricant will monitor laws under consideration on Capitol Hill that have implications for the industry.
“When things happen, they tend to happen quickly,” he says. “There’s no time to get together a big broad initiative. You really have to already have the contacts in your Rolodex. We’re looking to reinvigorate that function and put more [boots]on the ground.”
Fabricant, who was most recently director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, will also stay abreast of forthcoming rules and regulations.
“With this particular session of Congress being as gridlock-y as it appears to be, we have to keep an eye out on the regulatory side,” he says. “Any time you’ve got an environment like this, the regulatory side tends to heat up where there may not be as much advancement to the legislative process.”
Fabricant, 38, grew up in Miami. His mother, brother, and sister are all accountants. “I became the black sheep of the family when I pursued science,” he says.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Fabricant returned to Miami to work in Miami-Dade County’s Medical Examiner Department under Joe Davis, one of the experts called in the O.J. Simpson murder case. “Davis is really the father of forensic pathology,” Fabricant says.
After receiving a Ph.D. in pharmacognosy, Fabricant joined the Natural Products Association, first as vice president of global government and scientific affairs and later as acting CEO.
At the FDA, he oversaw regulation of the $32 billion dietary-supplement industry, whose products are used by more than 180 million Americans daily.
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The Department of Justice "is dropping a discrimination claim against a Texas law that required voters to present identification at the polls." The case will continue to carry on with private groups who filed the lawsuit. The DOJ dropped the claim because Texas is planning to "cure the deficiencies" with the law, according to a draft copy of the dismissal motion the DOJ sent to the Campaign Legal Center. Texas Governor Jim Abbott tweeted a picture of a headline sharing the information with a caption saying "It's a new day in D.C."