Veteran Capitol Hill staffer Antonia Ferrier is still adjusting to her new role as a lobbyist.
The energetic former staffer is now a senior vice president at Forbes-Tate, a public policy consulting firm in D.C. Although Ferrier is excited about her new job, she said, “the Senate and the Hill will always feel a little bit like home.”
Ferrier is not able to use her Hill contacts for business yet, because staffers-turned-lobbyists are banned from contacting colleagues for one year. But she can use her experience in both chambers to advise clients about the right time to lobby lawmakers. “As a consultant you just help provide the right context, the right background, the right knowledge to help them determine whether to engage or not,” Ferrier said.
Ferrier joined Forbes-Tate in March, after 12 years as a Hill staffer. “Sometimes in life you have to challenge yourself by taking yourself out of the comfortable, out of what you know,” Ferrier said of her decision to leave Capitol Hill.
Ferrier had previously worked for prominent Republicans in the House and Senate. She is a self-described “quixotic Republican,” and said, “There’s no question when it comes to fiscal issues and economic issues that I’m a pro-growth, pro-markets girl.”
But Ferrier was not always an ardent GOP supporter. She hails from the deep blue state of Massachusetts and grew up a Democrat.
“My hometown does not really have a diversity of viewpoints,” she said. “I’d never met a Republican.”
But once Ferrier left Lexington, Mass., for American University, she began to re-evaluate her liberal stances. “Taking some econ classes, thinking about taking some poli sci classes, etc., I started thinking about things more, looking at things, being challenged in my viewpoints.”
Describing her political evolution, she leaned across the table and spoke in a hushed tone, saying she eventually realized, “OK, I think I am a Republican. Wow.”
Since then, Ferrier has not looked back, and is animated and passionate when talking about the GOP. “While I may not be up here [on Capitol Hill], I strongly believe in the Republican Party. I believe in Senate Republicans. I want [Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.] to be our majority leader.”
After working as an associate for Barbour, Griffith & Rogers after college, Ferrier left D.C. for the Big Apple to work for a strategic communications firm. But as the chaos of the 2000 presidential election unfolded, Ferrier realized she belonged in Washington.
She proudly displayed her “Sore Loser-man” sign, a reference to then-Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman, in her New York City office. “My boss just would shake his head and say, ‘Really? You’re going to put the Sore Loser-man thing on your desk?’ Yes I am. And I just realized I wasn’t done.”
So Ferrier returned to D.C. and landed a job as deputy communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In December 2002, she became deputy press secretary for Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
A year later, Ferrier became former Sen. Olympia Snowe’s communications director. Ferrier said the Maine Republican “made me the best staffer. She had very high standards.”
Ferrier went to the private sector after four years in Snowe’s office. But a few months into her new job, she was approached about working for then-House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Ferrier returned to the Hill.
In 2009, Ferrier joined then-House Minority Leader John A. Boehner’s communications team as the press secretary with a focus on responding to White House policies.
A year later, she returned to her roots in the Senate to work for Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, the ranking member of the Finance Committee.
“Ah, that is the committee of greats!” she exclaimed, describing her excitement about taking a job with Hatch.
Ferrier served as Hatch’s communications director and senior adviser for four years, and eventually decided, after more than a decade on the Hill, that it was time for a change.
“Getting out of that comfort zone, understanding a different perspective in terms of how policy impacts people, companies, industries, all on down, is really valuable,” Ferrier said.
She is still getting her bearings as a lobbyist, and looks forward to learning about a new side of politics.
“I hope that whatever my future might hold, it’s something that I, at some level, can leave and get some satisfaction from being challenged,” Ferrier, said, adding that she hopes to continue her service to her party and her country. “That sort of do-gooderism in me will never go away.”