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Hill Climbers: A Communicator From Childhood

Staci Cox has always been a good communicator. 

Growing up, she participated in the debate club and would often do public speaking events through local organizations, such as her church. “I love to talk. I love to write,” said the Michigan native, now a staff assistant and legislative correspondent for Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). “Communication has always been my thing.”

In high school, Cox knew she wanted a career that involved speaking and writing. “I had it in my head that I was going to be a lawyer,” she said. “I love being in front of people.” 

At that point, she hoped to one day open a litigation public affairs firm, something she still considers a possibility down the road. “You kind of need to know law to do that,” she explained. But a career in politics wasn’t on her radar.

Coming to the District for college changed all that. As a student at American University, where she studied public communication, Cox was immersed in the world of politics. 

“You basically can’t survive at that school if you’re not politically active,” she said. “You’re right where all the action is.”

While she was learning about politics, Cox was able to further her public speaking in a less conventional format: cheerleading. Although she had never cheered before — she ran track and field in high school — Cox said her public-speaking experience made it easy to cheer on her classmates at the men’s and women’s basketball games. 

“You have to be outgoing,” she said of cheerleading. “You’re always in front of people.”

Cox also honed her communications skills when she studied abroad in Paris her junior year. “You realize how important communication is when you go to a foreign country where they don’t speak English,” she said, explaining that she improved her French while living with a host family. “You learn how to make things work.”

After graduating in May 2011, Cox took her skills to the Hill, where she served as a communications intern for Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

In November, she moved to Moore’s office, where she has served as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent but will take over as a legislative correspondent and press assistant this week. In Moore’s office, Cox said her communications skills have come in handy.  

“I’m the first person visitors see coming in … and I’m the last person anyone sees going out,” she said.

Her experience with athletics, especially track and field, also has some parallels to life on the Hill. “I like to win,” she said. “And I like the camaraderie.” In politics, she said, “people should focus more on the camaraderie and less on the winning.”

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