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Hill Climbers: Triumphant Return

If politics is a calling, then those who heed the call tend to follow a typical progression from college internships and campaign work to Hill staffer.

[IMGCAP(1)]But Washington, D.C., is not always that simple. Instead, Capitol Hill stands out as a place where individuals are drawn to leave successful careers in the hope of, all clichés aside, making a difference.

Such is the story of John Monsif, who was promoted this May from legislative assistant to legislative director for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). Although he is hardly a stranger to politics, life on the Hill was not Monsif’s first career choice.

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1999 with a degree in commerce, Monsif set out to apply what he had learned in school working in sales for a business in Boston. However, Monsif would not be content to remain in the private sector.

Originally from Greenwich, Conn., Monsif first entered the political world as an intern for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) while still in college during the summer of 1996. Monsif says that year was formative for him, as his internship was followed by volunteer work with President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in the fall of 1996. This experience led to further volunteer work as an airport manager for the Clinton Presidential Inaugural Committee and his eventual hiring as a fund manager for the Office of Policy Development in the spring of 1997.

[IMGCAP(2)]After taking a year off to work in

politics, Monsif went back to UVA to finish his coursework, followed by employment in Boston.

Monsif cites an enduring interest in politics as promoting his decision to come back to the Hill after nearly a decade away.

“I retained a passion for public service after my initial time in Washington, so at age 32 I decided to make a career change,— he said. “I wanted to be … where I could grow in a place bigger than myself.—

A native of former Rep. Christopher Shays’ (R-Conn.) district, Monsif was given another shot at politics by the Congressman. In the summer of 2007, he was appointed systems administrator, a position that led to his quick promotion to legislative assistant in December 2007.

Monsif notes that he was content to move back to Washington to work for a Republican. “Rep. Shays was a moderate Republican but as a Democrat I found him easy to work for because he is a very independent thinker,— he said. However, almost as quickly as Monsif adjusted to his new life, he was forced to look for another job, after Shays was defeated in his re-election bid last November.

“Of course I was upset with Rep. Shays’ loss in the 2008 election, but politics was where I wanted to be so I began searching for a new job,— he said.

Slaughter hired Monsif just weeks after Election Day.

Now back on the Hill for almost two years, Monsif concedes that his return required some big changes but says he was well-equipped to handle them. “Working in sales, I had a lot of flexibility, so moving back did require some life adjustments,— he said. “However, I think that flipping from working in the business field to politics, as well as working for both Democrats and a Republican, has provided me with a diverse skill set in my present work for the resulted in less running. But Monsif plans on staying in Washington for the long term.

“There are a lot of things which I don’t have time to do now, but I do hope to be here long enough to get out and do more things,— he said.

Submit news of hires and promotions on Capitol Hill to Hill Climbers here.

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