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“Be All You Can Be” on Capitol Hill

Sen. Ken Salazar’s (D-Colo.) new press secretary will not comment on her age or most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill. Rather, Stephanie Valencia offers the responses “a woman never reveals her age” and “hmm … why would I say that!?” She focuses instead on her new job, which she says is to “be the best press secretary I can be.” That’s a pretty impressive mentality for the ageless New Mexican. [IMGCAP(1)]

Valencia brings a wealth of experience to Salazar’s office: assistant to the chief counsel in the Democratic National Convention Committee in Boston, press secretary for Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and press secretary and assistant to Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.). She also served on the 2004 presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and was the head Senate Democratic page during the impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton.

Valencia holds a bachelor’s degree in faith, peace and justice, as well as a degree in international relations from Boston College, both of which she obtained in 2004.

Valencia did comment on her future goals: She wants to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and eventually wants to be chief of staff for a Member from New Mexico.

It fits with the Army spirit.


Big Changes for New Staffer. Tristan Leavitt had a busy summer. Having just received a bachelor’s in political science from Brigham Young University, he traveled across the country with his wife, had a baby boy and started a new job as intern for Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho), all within the span of a month.

But if Leavitt is affected by the transition, it is only in a good way. Recently promoted to staff assistant in Sali’s office, the most important thing for him to share with Hill Climbers was the following: “My son is growing like a weed — he’s only two months old and already weighs 13 lbs.! He just recently learned how to smile, which I am thrilled about. Babies are already adorable, but how can your heart not melt when they smile at you?”

Though he’s been on the Hill for just a short time, he already has had an embarrassing moment to relay: “The first time my wife came into the office, I had only been there a short while as an intern. When Mr. Sali walked out to meet her, I called him by his first name without thinking about it. He didn’t seem to mind, but as a new intern, I was mortified!”

As staff assistant for Sali, Leavitt is responsible for tours, flag requests and other duties such as answering constituent mail. His future goals include pursuing a law degree or an MBA in the fall of 2008. He is originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and was student body vice president at BYU before he graduated in the spring.

He’ll Always Have Paris. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) has taken on David Dailey as his new legislative assistant. Dailey started interning in Scott’s office when he was 18 and later became a legislative correspondent. Working 30 hours a week and carrying a full load of classes at American University, he graduated in four years, receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science this past May. He said he knew that he had finally “made it” on the Hill when he received his first BlackBerry.

His most embarrassing moment on the Hill was when his girlfriend shared his iPod playlist with a co-worker. “One freak’n Paris Hilton song and you become the joke of the office!” he said. “Dave ‘Hilton’ now appears on the sign-out board whenever I leave the office.”

But he has no shame. “It’s a pretty good song,” he said.

Dailey’s future goals include going to law school, moving back to his native Norfolk and possibly running for office.

He has the same birthday as his hero, whom he calls “Al ‘freak’n’ Gore.”

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