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Hill Climbers: Not the Bodyguard

Not everyone will believe that Brandon Naylor, 26, was just promoted to be Rep. Dennis Moore’s (D-Kan.) communications director.

[IMGCAP(1)]Naylor’s towering 6 feet, 6 inch height often leads to a different conclusion: that he is Moore’s personal security detail.

“It’s just really funny, because anyone who knows Rep. Moore knows that he is one of the most laid-back, unassuming Members around,— Naylor said.

At the same time, the self-described “big guy— understands how people can make the mistake. “I guess because I wear suits and have that slow, deliberate walk, people think that I am a bodyguard,— Naylor said. “But I don’t wear an earpiece — that should be the giveaway!—

Wrong impressions notwithstanding, he certainly has been a number of things for Moore. Naylor, who has worked for the Congressman nearly three years now, started as out as an intern during the summer of 2006 and was hired shortly thereafter as an executive assistant. Since then, he has worn several other hats for Moore, including legislative correspondent, legislative assistant and deputy communications director.

[IMGCAP(2)]But it did not take an internship on Capitol Hill for Naylor to decide that he wanted to be in Washington, D.C.; for him, that path was laid much earlier in life. “My mom is an incredibly dedicated public school teacher and my father fostered the responsibility of service in me from a young age, signing me up for Boy Scouts,— Naylor said. “It was just the cherry on top coming to D.C. in eighth grade and falling in love with the city. … After college, I loaded up everything into a U-Haul and drove out here with nothing for me but a buddy and an apartment. Since then, I haven’t looked back.—

But for Naylor, living in Washington has been sweetened by working for Moore. Not only is Naylor a Kansas native, but Moore’s Congressional district includes the University of Kansas, where Naylor graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science.

While still a college sophomore, Naylor’s love for the school made him try out for a walk-on spot with the Jayhawk football team.

“They gave me a shot and were extremely respectful even though I had never played football,— he said. “I ended up not getting a spot, but I went out there just wanting to give back to the team.—

Naylor is now content in his status as a rabid fan of his alma mater. He includes meeting the 2008 KU baskeball team in a White House ceremony as one of his more memorable moments in Washington.

Speaking of teamwork, Members’ press shops are hardly one-man operations. Also moving up in Moore’s communications team is Megan McClendon, who took over for Naylor as deputy communications director this month.

McClendon, 25, will continue to maintain her role as constituent services aide along with her new position as deputy communications director. Working out of Moore’s Overland Park, Kan., office, McClendon will serve as the district media contact in addition to acting as a liaison between constituents and government agencies.

Although she is a 2006 graduate of Oklahoma University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, it was really McClendon’s graduate studies that deepened her political involvement. While pursuing a master’s degree in public policy from Pepperdine University, which she earned in 2008, McClendon interned in Washington with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Putting her newly honed political knowledge to work, McClendon was hired in Moore’s Kansas office in June 2008. The former Oklahoman now gushes with a newfound love for the Jayhawk State, saying, “Many of my family and dear friends are from the Kansas City area, and I have great memories visiting as a young adult. Overland Park, Kan., is now where I call home!—

But McClendon is not only effusive about her love for her new home state; as of late, she also appreciates life in a more meaningful way. At 25, McClendon is battling breast cancer and will soon undergo seven to eight weeks of radiation treatment.

McClendon said that many people are surprised to learn that she is coping with the cancer at her age. But she keeps a fighting spirit: “My passion and cause is breast cancer awareness, particularly in young women,— she said.

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