Ripon Society & Franklin Center Honor the “Unsung Heroes of Capitol Hill”

The Ripon Society's Top 20 Schedulers & Executive Assistants of 2015Recognize the Top 20 Schedulers & Executive Assistants in Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – The Ripon Society and Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange held a luncheon yesterday afternoon honoring “The Unsung Heroes of Capitol Hill,” the schedulers and executive assistants in Congress who, in the words of Ripon Society President Jim Conzelman, “make sure the trains run on time.”

“This luncheon was our 66th event of 2015,” Conzelman stated. “It was also our final event of the year. In that regard, let me just say that we saved the best for last. I say that because for all the talk we hear about ideas and principles, and for everything we read about policy and politics, we all know that it is people who matter the most.

“And as we close out another year in Washington, we thought it was a good time to recognize some of the most important people in town.  We call them the Unsung Heroes of Capitol Hill — the schedulers and executive assistants who make sure the trains run on time. We were honored to have them with us yesterday. We are grateful for their help and patience throughout the year. And by hosting this lunch, our goal was to simply say – ‘Thank you for your hard work.’”

According to Conzelman, yesterday’s luncheon was attended by a group of over 100 schedulers and executive assistants. Conzelman noted that this was the fourth consecutive year that The Ripon Society has hosted a luncheon honoring these “unsung heroes” of Capitol Hill. Past luncheons, he added, have featured speakers such as Anita McBride, the former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush, and Patrick Jephson, the former private secretary to Princess Diana.

For this year’s event, he stated, they decided to do something different.

“We decided to poll our members and the members of our Congressional Advisory Board on Capitol Hill,” he said. “We asked them to name the scheduler or executive assistant who demonstrates the highest level of professionalism in what is arguably one of the most challenging jobs on a Congressional staff.

“The response was overwhelming. Literally, I had members of Congress and Chiefs of Staff stop me in the hall to say they heard what we were doing and had the name of someone they wanted to pass along. In total, we received several hundred responses, which yielded a list of 96 names. From that list of 96, we selected the top 20 vote getters, whom we recognized at yesterday’s lunch.”

The Top 20 Schedulers and Executive Assistants of 2015 included:

  • Megan Becker, the scheduler for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-1st/LA);
  • Josie Beecher, the scheduler for Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA);
  • Mary Doherty, the scheduler for Congressman Mike Capuano (D-7th/MA);
  • Tamara Edwards, the scheduler for Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-16th/IL);
  • Ben Elleson, the scheduler for Congressman Billy Long (R-7th/MO);
  • Laura Engquist, the scheduler for Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-12th/OH);
  • Colleen Gallagher, the scheduler for Congressman Pat Meehan (R-7th/PA);
  • Lynn Haueter, the executive assistant for Congressman Kevin Brady (R-8th/TX);
  • Carol Kresse, the executive assistant for Congressman Jeff Denham (R-10th/CA);
  • Matt Leasure, the scheduler for Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-4th/OR);
  • Julia O’Connor, the scheduler for Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-6th/WA);
  • Kate Paul, the scheduler for Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-3rd/MN);
  • Michelle Runk, the scheduler for Congressman Jim Renacci (R-16th/OH);
  • Jaclyn Schwinghamer, the scheduler for Congressman Richard Hanna (R-22nd/NY);
  • Lindsey Shackelford, the scheduler for Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-10th/NC);
  • Danielle Suber, the executive assistant for Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-3rd/UT);
  • Jessica Sunday, the scheduler for GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th/WA);
  • Bits Thomas, the scheduler for Chairman Fred Upton (R-6th/MI);
  • Tory Wickiser, the scheduler for the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-1st/WI); and,
  • Alana Wilson, the scheduler for Congressman Sean Duffy (R-7th/WI)
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In addition to recognizing the group, Conzelman also read some of the specific comments that were submitted along with the poll – comments, he said, that embodied the hard work and dedication of all of the executive assistants and schedulers in the room. The comments included:

“…is always positive and calm under pressure…two things that are extremely difficult in her role.”
“…handles every crisis calmly, but with a great sense of humor, and has raised the already high level of customer service in our office to a previously unreached bar.”
“…is one of the most selfless, kindest, most generous people I have ever met. She does so much for others — both in and out of the office — and doesn’t get nearly enough credit!”
“…is the source of energy for our office; always positive, organized, and extremely helpful.”
“…keeps the trains moving on time — through sheer force of will.”

Conzelman — who spent 25 years as the Chief of Staff for former Congressman Mike Oxley (R-OH) prior to joining The Ripon Society – concluded the luncheon by reading a letter that Ronald Reagan had written to Meshelle Osborne, the young daughter of his personal secretary, Kathy Osborne, 30 years ago to the day, on December 14, 1989:

“Dear Meshelle,” the letter from America’s 40th President began, “As you can see, I’m taking care of your mother. By writing this myself, I’m saving her from having to type it. Congratulations on your tennis. I played a little when I was your age but then football, track and swimming got in the way, and now it’s horses – so no tennis for me. Your mother keeps all of us on track and doing what we should. You can be very proud of her. I don’t know what we’d do without her. And, incidentally, she’s very proud of you. Nancy sends her very best to you, as do I. And we wish you the merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year. Hope to see you soon. Love – your Buddy, Ron.”

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“Like President Reagan’s personal secretary,” Conzelman said, “the schedulers and executive assistants working on Capitol Hill today make a difference in the lives of our leaders. And by doing that, they make a difference in the life of our nation, as well. We thank them for their service and appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to join us for lunch yesterday.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

Founded in 1978, The Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to enhancing global understanding of important international issues. The Franklin Center brings together Members of the U.S. Congress and their international parliamentary counterparts as well as experts from the Diplomatic corps, foreign officials, senior private sector representatives, scholars, and other public policy experts. Through regular conferences and events where leading international opinion leaders share ideas, the Franklin Center promotes enlightened, balanced, and unbiased international policy discussion on major international issues.