Annalee Flower Horne '08 has found a professional home on Capitol Hill.
"My mom has worked for FCNL forever, and I grew up in DC. I have an interest in public service and policy, and making the world a better place," says Flower Horne, a staff assistant for Congressman Peter Stark (D- California).
Her Earlham degree was an asset when Flower Horne started looking for work in the halls of government. Over and over, she said, staffers mentioned that their chief of staff had gone to Earlham, or their former press secretary. "We have a pretty good reputation, and we're taking over Capitol Hill," Flower Horne jokes.
The job began as an internship, helping get the Representative's website and social media presence up to date. Flower Horne's writing skills tipped the scales in her favor when the staff assistant position opened up.
Upon arriving at work, Flower Horne sorts the day's papers and checks on the social media sites. If noteworthy new subjects are being raised on the Congressman's Facebook or Twitter pages, Flower Horne puts together a response and has it approved by Stark's press secretary before posting it. She also helps the interns with their responsibilities, like organizing tours of the capitol for constituents.
Stark's office is a lively and welcoming place, Flower Horne said. "People think [congressional offices] are these vast structures, but there's about 11 people working in our office. Pete knows all of us and we know each other," she says. The communications director sometimes brings his dogs in for a visit, and coworkers brought Flower Horne a pecan pie (her favorite) on her 25th birthday.
It's also a very young workplace. Most of Flower Horne's coworkers are under 30, something which surprised her when she first began. "If you're trying to work there, it's best to start off pretty soon after college," Flower Horne says.
Working for Congress serves as an ongoing education in how government works. Flower Horne is well versed by now, for example, on Representatives' role in getting bills passed, something that's not always obvious from the outside. "People sometimes ask Pete to write a bill on a certain subject because they don't know that there's already a bill - usually one written by someone with committee jurisdiction. The best way for members to show their support in these cases is to co-sponsor the existing bill, instead of writing their own," she says.
Being a Quaker in government has not presented too many obstacles for Flower Horne, thanks to the fact that Stark's viewpoints largely harmonize with her own. For example, Stark votes against military spending and has been advocating for proposed national budget cuts to include the military's budget as well. "We agree on the kinds of issues Quakers really care about; peace, justice, equality," she says.
Majoring in Peace and Global Studies (PAGS) at Earlham not only made Flower Horne well-versed in social justice issues, it honed her critical thinking and analysis skills that help her put those issues into context at work. "You need to be able to take that wide-angle look to see how things affect each other," she says.