Former history major Kara Getz ’93 always dreamed of working on Capitol Hill. Now as chief counsel to the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee, she achieved her goal, serving as the lead Democratic staffer covering retirement policy where she works with members in developing legislation.
Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you along your career path?
There are a lot of Dickinsonians who work on the Hill, and networking with them was a big help in finding my first job on the Hill. Also, my professors at Dickinson helped me strengthen my writing skills and enhance my communication skills more generally—and that’s been a big help throughout my career.
What was your favorite activity at Dickinson?
I loved all four years at Dickinson, but definitely the highlight was the year I spent in Bologna, Italy. It was such an amazing experience learning a new culture, traveling to interesting places and developing strong friendships with my fellow classmates.
What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?
When I think back on my time at Dickinson, it’s the friendships that I made—and continue to have today—that are the best part of my experience. College is this unique time when you’re living in this small community with hundreds of your closest friends. So it’s not necessarily a specific memory that pops out at me but just the many afternoons and evenings of hanging out with my friends.
How do you stay involved with/support Dickinson?
I loved my time at Dickinson and try to support the college as much as I can. I try to regularly make a financial contribution. And recently, I hosted a group of students for a meeting with Dickinsonians who working on the Hill. We talked about our experiences and provided advice on finding a job on the Hill.
How did you get interested in your work, and what about it excites you most?
I always wanted to work on Capitol Hill. So, after becoming a lawyer and working for a firm for a few years, I decided to pursue working on the Hill. I like many aspects of my job. I like the people I work with—and I like meeting new people every day. I also enjoy doing a job where I feel like I’m making a difference in the world and helping people.
What does your current work entail?
I work as chief counsel to the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee. As a part of that role, I am also the lead Democratic staffer covering retirement policy for the committee.
One thing I love about working on the Hill is that, in my experience, there isn’t a typical day. But generally, I attend lots of meetings and speeches with the chairman and provide counsel as necessary. I also have a number of meetings on my own with outside advocates and lobbyists on particular issues before the committee. I also put together hearings on various topics for the committee and work with the members to develop legislation.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
In my experience, the biggest challenge with working on the Hill is the schedule. It’s a lot of late nights and weekends. I’ve even worked on New Year’s Day. But after being on the Hill for quite some time, I recently started working part-time, and that’s provided me with a lot more flexibility.
What comes to mind as something unforgettable that you’ve done since you graduated?
As proud as I am of what I’ve achieved in my career, the greatest thing that I’ve accomplished in my life is my daughter, Katie.
If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?
Of course, there are many famous people, living and dead, who’ve made significant contributions to society who I’d love to have dinner with. However, if I could pick just one person who is deceased to have dinner with, it would be my grandmother. She was just such a funny and dynamic lady who was a great storyteller. And she’s who I’d enjoy having dinner with the most.
You just built a time machine: Where and when do you go?
I’d go back in time about four years to when my daughter was first born. I saw a newborn baby the other day and thought, I can’t believe how fast time is going—that was my daughter four years ago. So I’d love to just go back and do it all again!
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I’ve given some thought to this question, and I’m not sure I’d change anything. Obviously, my life, like anyone else’s life, has had its ups and downs. But I wouldn’t be where I am today—and have the life that I have today—without that rollercoaster ride. So, I really wouldn’t change a thing.
Published January 14, 2020