As a junior associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Amber Cottle was consigned to a carrel. “I spent a lot of hours in the library doing research memos,” she says.
Ten years later, as Democratic staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, she will be instrumental in Chairman Max Baucus’s “efforts to reform the nation’s tax system,” according to a statement. The Montana Democrat has named Cottle to succeed Russ Sullivan, who is retiring after 18 years on Capitol Hill, partly to spend more time looking after a bevy of foster children (18 in all).
A native of St. Louis, Cottle interned for then-Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., while she was an undergraduate at St. Louis University. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, she clerked for a Baltimore judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
Cutler worked for four years in the international group at Wilmer, Cutler and then joined the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as assistant general counsel. Within two years, she was negotiating bilateral investment treaties on behalf of USTR.
In 2007, Cottle was named chief international trade counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, a post she considers “more hands-on, fast-paced, and policy-focused” than private practice. Baucus describes the 42-year-old as “an expert negotiator [and] problem-solver who works across party lines.”
Christopher Snow Hopkins
In the Tanks
For Nancy-Ann DeParle, who helped engineer the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the months ahead are an opportunity to meditate on one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in recent memory.
Decompressing is a “12-step process,” she quips. “I’m very much in the first step.”
The former deputy White House chief of staff, who joined the Obama administration in 2009 to oversee its push for health care reform, has taken a step back from the hurly-burly of government service. DeParle has been named a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, as well as a lecturer at Harvard Law School, where she is teaching a seminar with Cass Sunstein, who recently stepped down as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
“Brookings is a congenial place to hang out,” she says, adding that she accepted the position in part because it would give her the chance to interact with other guest scholars. DeParle plans to remain at Brookings until June, at which point the former managing director of CCMP Capital — an offshoot of JPMorgan Chase — will likely return to the financial-services sector.
At Harvard, DeParle and Sunstein will introduce their students to a smorgasbord of regulatory topics, such as the “Patients Bill of Rights” and rules emanating from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law.
DeParle was born in Cleveland and grew up in Rockwood, Tenn., west of Knoxville. She attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with a perfect grade-point average. (Her senior project focused on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.) DeParle went on to receive a law degree from Harvard and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford University’s Balliol College.
Wielding four degrees, DeParle has spent most of her career shuttling between government service and private practice. From 1987 to 1989, she served as commissioner for human services under the late Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter, a Democrat. She next practiced law in the Washington office of Covington & Burling. In 1993, DeParle joined the Clinton administration as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget. Shortly after that she became President Obama’s health czar.
After leaving the White House last month, “[I] didn’t even have a week off,” DeParle remarks. “I went to the inaugural ball and left the White House party at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Within a few days, I was teaching in Cambridge, Mass.”
Now that she has left the West Wing, the 56-year-old is basking in the hibernal sun.
“The White House really can be insular; everyone comes to you,” DeParle says. “My office had a great location, a few steps from the Oval Office, but the president got all the oceanfront property, with all the windows. My office was deep in the interior. You could be in there from 7 in the morning until 8 at night and never see the sun.”
She is married to Jason DeParle, a reporter for The New York Times.
Around the Agencies
As the Obama White House tries to tackle climate change in the face of congressional inaction, a key point man for the effort will be Jonathan Pershing, newly installed as de-puty assistant secretary for climate at the Energy Department.
Pershing couldn’t be better suited for the task. He has been working on international climate-change agreements since the first one was proposed in 1990, and he has been involved in climate research since the late 1980s.
“I’ve now been working on these issues for 25 years,” Pershing says. “And it is more clear today that the importance is high and the change is real. It’s going to get worse going forward “… but if we do things domestically we will be able to move forward internationally.”
Pershing, 53, has been around important scientific endeavors all his life. His father worked at Princeton University on an accelerator project funded by the Atomic Energy Commission and then joined some of the world’s most prominent — and mostly German — rocket scientists at the U.S. space-research center in Huntsville, Ala. “Some of my earliest memories are from Huntsville, when a lot of the scientists would come over for chamber concerts,” Pershing says.
Most of his growing up was done in New York City, though, before he went west to study engineering in Arizona and to work as a mining geologist in Alaska. On his way back east he earned a doctorate in geophysics at the University of Minnesota, where his research on climate change began.
Pershing worked at Minnesota with one of the pioneers in climate science, Dean Abrahamson, and helped study, among other things, how global warming might affect water levels and fish in the Great Lakes.
In 1990, he was named a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and assigned to the State Department’s climate office, which was just starting work on the first framework treaty on climate change. Pershing stayed at the State Department through 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was put in place to give industrialized nations specific goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Next was Paris, where Pershing became head of the energy and environment division at the International Energy Agency in 1998. “I learned early on that 85 percent of greenhouse emissions are associated with energy,” Pershing said, so he considered IEA’s work critical for the world to address climate issues.
In 2003 Pershing returned to Washington as director of the climate, energy, and pollution program at the World Resources Institute, a think tank focused on applying research to solve global environmental and economic problems.
While at WRI, he helped three U.S. regions — New England, the West, and the Midwest — form compacts on climate change that laid the groundwork for California’s new cap-and-trade program, he said.
Shortly after moving into the White House, President Obama tapped Pershing as a top climate negotiator at the State Department, a position he held until last month, when he moved to his new role at the Energy Department.
It always came as a surprise to Washington insiders that Baker Botts did not have a lobbying practice. The Houston-based law firm — named for James Addison Baker, great-grandfather of former Secretary of State James Baker — is intertwined with the neoconservative movement. As a teenager, George W. Bush worked there in the mail room.
Hence, the addition of Jeff Munk is overdue. As a partner in Baker Botts’s Washington office, he will set up the firm’s first congressional-affairs office. “Whenever I talk to people about it, they’re astounded to hear that Baker Botts is not on the Hill,” he says.
A native of Binghamton, N.Y., Munk, 51, has been ringing doorbells since he was 8 years old. His father, Joe B. Munk, was supervisor of nearby Vestal, N.Y., from 1969 to 1984.
After studying business and music at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., Munk came to Washington as a factotum at a music-industry advocacy group. In the process of making photocopies, he says, “I realized I needed another skill,” so he enrolled at Syracuse University’s College of Law. After receiving his degree, he returned to the capital to clerk for a judge on the U.S. Tax Court.
In 1992, Munk served as deputy general counsel for President Bush’s unsuccessful reelection campaign. Two years later, he earned a master’s from Georgetown University Law Center. After serving as legislative counsel for then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Munk spent 16 years practicing law at Hogan Lovells.
With a mellifluous voice á la Bing Crosby, Munk sings bass in the Washington Chorus. “It’s easier if you always read the lowest line on the page,” he says. “You don’t have to keep track of anything.”