Let’s start with where you began your career in Washington. I know that you went to Princeton, were a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, went to Yale Law School, clerked for a couple of judges, and then ended up in Washington. Was working for the Senate Judiciary Committee your fi rst position in Washington?
No. First I was in private practice. When I fi nished the second clerkship, my father-in-law said, “It’s time for you to get a real job.” I imagined the job opportunity at the law fi rm as the big fork in the road. I always wanted to be a lawyer.
And that comes out of your family experience?
No, it just comes out of an version to blood. Otherwise, I probably would have been a very good doctor. A person could look at my résumé and think that I’ve jumped around, but in reality, from high school through college, studying overseas, law school, all of my jobs, there are two constant threads. One is that what I’ve done has always been connected to law, policy, and politics. Second, while I may have had many different positions and opportunities, there has been a consistent theme in terms of the people. Whether the people come with me or I’m joining people, I’ve had relationships where there’s a lot consistency. People sometimes say to me, “You have a big network.” In reality, I think that there are only about six hundred people in anybody’s world, and central casting just moves them around. I keep running into the same people over and over again.
So why don’t you walk me through some of those experiences?
I began in high school, walking precincts to get out the vote. Then in college I was at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I’ve always had this combination of academically pursuing policy and politics. I was an urban affairs concentrator. My thesis was on NIMBY-type [Not In My Back Yard] issues and residential treatment centers for juvenile offenders.
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