“When I came to DC I was kind of a hippie – It’s funny where life takes you”
We met with Kristin in her boss’s office in Washington DC for a chat about life working on the hill…
“I didn’t expect to actually be in government, I thought I would be advocating to government,” she says. Her first job was a legislative aide for a Congressman and after a few years learning the ropes, she realized she was better suited for a career focused on many issues, not just a single cause. “Working on staff you get to do a little bit of everything and it never gets boring, which I like…I figured out I’m better as a multi-tasker.” She’s also learned that you can advocate for change while working within the system. As Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, she oversees the legislative staff, consults with her boss, sits in committee meetings and helps direct policy decisions.
As Chief of Staff, she is basically Langevin’s right hand, managing his agenda, schedule and advisers. Unlike other Chiefs on the Hill, Kristin has additional duties with her boss. Congressman Langevin has been in a wheelchair for over 30 years, paralyzed from the waist down after an accidental shooting while volunteering at a local police department. “It adds a whole other layer to the job,” Kristin says. “At every event, every appointment, I have to be aware of his needs, whether it be writing things down, assisting with food and drinks or even just standing over his shoulder to help him clear papers and files.” When her contemporaries might be able to rest for a few minutes during an event knowing their boss is comfortably schmoozing, Kristin needs to stay attentive to ensure no intrusions from Langevin’s disability interfere with his work.