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PEOPLE: People for March 9, 2002

Interest Groups

"It's fun to be working with people on both sides of the aisle," says David B. Williams. And that's what Williams says he plans to do as the new director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc., the political arm of the family-planning organization. Williams, 51, has a long history of interest in reproductive rights. After covering Massachusetts state government as a broadcast journalist, he began to dabble in campaign politics in the mid-1980s. In 1986, voters shot down an anti-abortion-rights ballot initiative, and soon afterward, Williams became a board member and media adviser to the Massachusetts chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. "That was the beginning of my relationship with the movement," he recalls. In 1994, Williams met Massachusetts Democrat John F. Tierney at a New Year's party; Williams later became Tierney's campaign manager in his bid for a U.S. House seat. Tierney lost that election but won in 1996, and Williams joined him in Washington as chief of staff. Williams also worked for then-Rep. Michael Forbes, D-N.Y., and, most recently, for the House Government Reform Committee. He will report to Vice President for Public Policy Susanne Martinez, who joined the Action Fund in November.

The Christian Coalition of America has a new top lobbyist in Jim Backlin, who has left the office of Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., after seven years as chief of staff. Backlin has already jumped into the fray on campaign finance: The coalition opposes current legislation because it would limit the ability of organizations to run ads near election time. "The Christian Coalition put out 70 million voter guides in 2000, including 3 million Hispanic-language voter guides in Florida," he said. "We feel [the bill] is unconstitutional." Backlin, 59, is no stranger to the coalition: From 1987 to `88 he worked on the presidential campaign of the group's founder, Pat Robertson. Backlin served in the Veterans Administration under President Reagan. Following the Robertson campaign, Backlin worked for the House Republican Study Committee until 1994 and then landed on Bartlett's staff. In addition to working on the campaign finance issue, Backlin has been fighting for a human cloning ban and for the Bush Administration's judicial nominees.

At the Bar

As an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General since 1993, lawyer Beth Brinkmann argued before the Supreme Court 18 times-the most arguments presented by a woman in the past three decades, according to her new employer-yet she never lost her reverence for the Court. "Every time you go up there, it is amazing, and an honor and privilege being there. You also feel very patriotic-at least I do," said Brinkmann, who has just become of counsel at the Washington office of Morrison & Foerster. Brinkmann, 43, will continue to do appellate work, representing clients before the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. "The expertise in the Solicitor General's office is getting into complex areas of law quickly and really bringing an appellate perspective to it. That is the value-added that I can bring, that appellate expertise of distilling the issues," she said. The Yale Law School graduate also clerked in 1986 for the late Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, was an assistant federal public defender in Washington, and worked for four years as an associate at Turner & Brorby in San Francisco.

Media People

After 24 years as a Wall Street Journal reporter, Jerry Seib is the new head of the daily's Washington bureau. Seib, 46, began his Journal career in Dallas. Two years later, he moved to Washington and, except for a three-year stint in Cairo, he has been working in the nation's capital ever since. Reflecting on his 1985 trek to the Middle East with his wife, then-Journal reporter Barbara Rosewicz, he says: "We didn't go looking for it. [The editors] came and offered it to us. We gulped really hard and said, `Yeah, we'll do that.' " After the initial culture shock, Seib says he enjoyed reporting in the Middle East-until he was taken prisoner by the Iranian government while covering the Iran-Iraq War in 1987. "They declared that I was an Israeli spy," he recalls, and it took some "heroic" work by Journal staffers to gain his release a week later. Seib is proudest of his work as the lead reporter during the Persian Gulf War, and of his columns following September 11. The deputy Washington bureau chief since 1997, Seib replaces Alan Murray, who now heads the Washington bureau at CNBC. Seib says The Journal's bureau will continue to adjust its Washington coverage to post-9/11 realities.

Journalist Jon Bowen has-you guessed it-arrived as the new editor of Arrive, Amtrak's onboard lifestyle magazine, which is based in Arlington, Va., and distributed on Northeast Corridor trains, including the popular Washington-to-New York route. Bowen, 36, was formerly a freelance writer and has had his byline in publications as diverse as The Washington Post, Runner's World, and He's covered topics ranging from tattoos to the Tao of office cubicles. Bowen was previously an account executive with public relations firm Z Comm, the custom publisher of Arrive. In addition to writing features for Arrive, which is published every other month, Bowen hopes to grow the magazine's readership and to sustain the interest of what he describes as the corridor's highly educated travelers in high-tech gizmos, hip hotels, restaurants, travel, and luxury items. Asked why he decided to become a wordsmith after college, Bowen joked, "Because I can't do math."

Political Stripes

Republican political consultant Katie Cook has struck out on her own and opened a voter-contact company, Direct Line Politics, in Alexandria, Va. Cook, 42, said she made a spontaneous decision to leave her political consulting firm, the Lukens Cook Company, where she spent 12 years. With a background in fundraising, she said, "I figured if I can get people to write checks, I can probably get them to vote, too." Cook said she got "sucked in" to the direct-mail and fundraising world after working on political campaigns in Virginia. In 1983, fundraising strategist Walter Lukens hired Cook as his assistant at Ann Stone & Associates, and seven years later, Cook followed Lukens to his firm, the Lukens Company. In 1998, the name of the firm was changed to reflect Cook's status as a shareholder. At Lukens, one of Cook's most memorable feats was assisting the 1996 re-election effort of Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. She conceived the mass mailing of a handwritten letter from Smith's wife, Mary Jo, which Cook said played well with female voters. Now, Cook is working with Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va.

Lobby Shops

Mike Strachn says the part of his engineering training that stayed with him when he jumped into the policy arena was "a logical approach to problem-solving, more than anything else." Strachn spent 23 years as an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers before taking a job on Capitol Hill. Now he's making another switch, this time to the private sector, to become the newest senior vice president at Cassidy & Associates Inc. At the Corps, Strachn explained, "I ended up-not by design, but just by circumstance-working on legislative issues." Strachn served as the Corps' legislative liaison before joining in 1994 what was then called the Public Works and Transportation Committee. He signed on as a senior professional staff member on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee and worked his way up to deputy chief of staff at the full committee. When Strachn, 53, decided to do policy work outside of government, the Cassidy firm topped his list of workplaces.

Seven months from now, observant Hill staffers tuning in to Comedy Central may recognize a familiar face: former Hill aide Aaron Chang. Chang, who has a new job as the chief operating officer for the Carmen Group Inc., took a break to film an episode in Los Angeles of the game show Win Ben Stein's Money. Although Chang is mum about whether he got to dip into Stein's game-show earnings, he is happy to talk about his gig at Carmen. "I was brought on to help steer the firm in terms of daily operations and budget and strategic planning," he said. Chang came from the staff of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., where he served for nearly three years as director of advance. He is joined by a bevy of new hires at the Washington lobby shop, including Marketing Director Richard Masterson, who comes from the New York City-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. In addition, longtime Federal Transit Administration engineer Douglas A. Kerr is a senior associate; former Washington state public defender Susan Pai is general counsel; and Frank Pugliese, who recently retired as a Federal Supply Service commissioner, is a new managing associate.

The data-storage giant EMC Corporation is doubling its presence in Washington by adding three new government-relations managers, all from Capitol Hill, to the lobby shop it opened a year ago. Cord Sterling has spent the past seven years as the lead professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee. Craig Metz joins EMC after eight years as the chief of staff to the late Rep. Floyd Spence, R-S.C., who passed away in August 2001. And Dave LesStrang comes from the House Appropriations Committee, where he served most recently as an appropriations associate on the subcommittee dealing with foreign operations. He was also a legislative director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif. "The company has seen the utility of having a single voice in Washington," said EMC Director of Government Affairs Timur Eads. The office is immersed in topics such as export control law, the alternative minimum tax, and privacy.

Consulting Game

During the workday, Randy Ihara dedicates himself to his job as the new vice president of public affairs for Issue Dynamics Inc., a Washington consulting firm. But he's also dedicated to his hobbies, and he resorts to what he calls "spare, spare, spare" time to work on a novel about three generations of Japanese-Americans. "Hearing my mother and father talk about the internment sparked the idea of the story," he says, referring to the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Ihara spends his "spare" time serving as president of the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance in Northern Virginia. His "spare, spare" time goes to playing bluegrass music and raising bonsai trees. Ihara, 58, joins IDI from the Edison Electric Institute, where he was the vice president for external affairs. At IDI, he'll be in charge of putting together constituent coalitions on public policy issues. Ihara previously worked at CSX Transportation, as a staffer on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and as director of policy for Kentucky's Division of Energy.


Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., recently expanded his staff by adding three Evergreen State natives. New press secretary April Gentry is returning to familiar territory after spending a year as press secretary to Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont. She succeeds Joy King, who is now the deputy communications director for the Ohio State Republican Party. Gentry, 23, who hails from Seattle, got her start working on the campaign of Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash. Now, says Gentry, Nethercutt's staff is concentrating on Appropriations Committee issues, particularly those involving the subcommittees on the Defense, Interior, and Agriculture departments, on which Nethercutt sits. Another Dunn veteran, Ken Van Pool, has joined Nethercutt's staff as a legislative assistant; he'll focus on health care, education, Social Security, and veterans' affairs. Van Pool, 26, is from Federal Way, Wash., and spent nearly three years working for Dunn, most recently as a legislative assistant. He replaces Elise Deschenes, now manager of federal affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. And 22-year-old Elizabeth Fleming, a former intern in Nethercutt's Spokane office, has made the move to Washington to serve as a staff assistant.

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