Hill Climbers: Military Family Shaped Marchand’s Future

Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:23pm

Amber Marchand’s childhood gave her two advantages: As an “Army brat,” she became used to moving around, and she grew up with an appreciation for all things military.

Those qualities have brought her to her new post as communications director for freshman Sen. Roy Blunt.

“I’m an Army brat,” Marchand said. “My family is from the Midwest, I was born in Georgia and my folks moved to Northern Virginia.”

Although the 29-year-old’s gig with the Missouri Republican is her first time working for a Senator, this isn’t her first foray into government.

After graduating from Penn State University with degrees in public relations and psychology in 2003, Marchand was offered a job in the press office of the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Tom Ridge. The
Cabinet post had just been created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Marchand said her family background inspired her to pursue a career in government. Not only did her father work in the Pentagon, but she also grew up on a military base until she was in high school because her parents and stepfather were all career Army officers.

“I’ve always been interested in military-related issues and veterans, because that’s the environment I grew up in,” she said. “Being able to put my degree to use in an environment that’s so meaningful to me is perfect.”

Marchand then transitioned to the House Homeland Security Committee under Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). She worked as a press secretary there for almost a year. During her time with the committee, she met her future husband, Sterling.

While Sterling went to night school to complete his law degree, Marchand decided it was time for a change of pace.

In 2006, she joined the campaign for Lynn Swann (R), a former Pittsburgh Steeler who was running for Pennsylvania governor.

“My husband and I were definitely not on a normal schedule,” Marchand said, laughing.

She traveled with Swann as his deputy communications director for eight months. Although Swann did not win the race, Marchand learned invaluable experience on the campaign trail, including multitasking and thinking on her feet.

In 2007, Marchand moved to the press office at the Republican National Committee. She covered the Southeast region until she was promoted to deputy press secretary in 2008.

A year later, Marchand again decided it was time for a change. She began working as a national press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, where she was responsible for 10 campaigns in the 2010 election cycle.

Blunt’s campaign was one of them. Although she was headquartered in D.C., she was in daily contact with the campaigns to figure out where they needed help in their communications efforts.

Marchand recalls a turning point in her career, when Sen. Scott Brown (R) won his special election in the deeply blue state of Massachusetts. The victory really set the tone for Republicans, Marchand said.

After Blunt easily won his election in November, Marchand thought it would be a good time to get back on Capitol Hill and took the job as communications director. Since starting earlier this year, she has been focused on incorporating social media into the new office, as many constituent inquiries have been coming in via Twitter and Facebook.

“It’s sort of an interesting evolution of the communications role,” she said. “I’m laying the groundwork of how that structurally works because it’s not traditional. But I think it’s effective.”

Marchand brings a good deal of experience with new media from her work on the past two election cycles, where social tools played an increasingly important role for the GOP. She plans to use her experience from the campaigns and committees to aid her in her new role for the Senator.

“I feel like I got the best of all the worlds,” Marchand said of her past experience.

“I enjoy the campaign world, but at the same point, this is something I’m really enjoying right now.”

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