Get to Know: Wintta Woldemariam, Capitol Hill Legislative Aid
Who said Capitol Hill was too white?
Before working behind the scenes in Congress, Wintta Woldemariam had a bit of a political career of her own. While in law school at the University of Texas she served as the National Chair of the National Black Law Students Association representing the interests of nearly 6,000 black law students from around the country. Very much inspired by the political process, Woldemariam, who studied political science and African-American studies at Duke, took her skills to Capitol Hill, where she now works as a legislative assistant for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Previously she served as counsel to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Despite charges that Capitol Hill is too white, she stands out as one of the growing numbers of black faces occupying powerful roles and impacting the way the political process works for the American public. As hundreds network at the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference, it’s important not just to recognize the black members of Congress, but the black staffers who help keep Washington and the country running.
Name: Wintta Woldemariam
Title: Legislative Assistant
Years in Washington, D.C.: 2
Alma Mater: Duke University & The University of Texas School of Law
How did you get involved in politics? After watching the 2000 election unfold, I got involved in voter registration and education at Duke and in the Durham community, making sure that students and community members were aware of their rights as they cast their ballots.
What was your path to Capitol Hill? As a college student, I interned for a member of Congress and for a presidential campaign. As a law student I worked in the Texas legislature, and advised on voting rights issues. That led me to a fellowship in the House working on judiciary issues and ultimately to my current position in the Senate.
What's a day in the life like for you? Every day on Capitol Hill is dynamic and fast-paced, and filled with research and analysis of critical issues. No two days here are the same.
What do you think of diversity on Capitol Hill? There is a lot of diversity in the type of work that black Hill staffers are doing. We are policy advisors, chiefs of staffs, communications directors, and senior strategists. Of course, there is still a very long way to go in making these bodies truly representative of their constituents, but I think we should recognize and applaud the diversity that is already here and the critical work that these staffers are doing.
What do you love most about Washington? Sunday afternoons at Malcolm X Park
What do you like least about Washington? Traffic
What's one little known Washington tidbit you think more people should know? That there is history all around us! Not just in the monuments and sites, but also in the seemingly ordinary buildings all around the city that have extraordinary histories. For example, Charles Hamilton Houston’s former office, where he created the blueprint which ultimately dismantled segregation, is in Chinatown.
Finally, a large amount of the American public seems to feel that it's hard to get things done in Washington. This may translate to a lack of faith in members of the House and Senate. How does your work as a professional staff member day in and day out actively combat that idea? Because every day, thousands of Hill staffers like myself work very hard for the people of our states and districts. We work hard to ensure that their voices are heard and that their interests are at the forefront of the conversation. If nothing else, the American public can rest assured that there are people working on their behalf in the halls of Congress.