Kristine Simmons' interest in politics was well established before
she graduated from RIT in 1990 with a degree in professional and
Still, she seems amazed at the path that led to her current job
as a Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for Domestic
And she credits RIT with getting her started on that path. She
was very active in student government, and worked on what is today
known as the Horton Distinguished Speaker Series. "My interest
in politics was heightened," she says.
"When I graduated, Andrew Dougherty (special assistant to former
RIT President Richard Rose) helped me set up informational interviews
in Washington." she says. "Through Congressman Frank Horton's office,
I was offered a four-month internship on the House Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight, I'm sure as a courtesy to RIT."
That job gave her a chance to prove her worth: The internship turned
into a permanent position on the professional staff, where she stayed
for seven years.
|On a May visit to RIT, Kristine Simmons chats with her
former professors, Bruce Austin, professional and technical
communication, (center) and Louis Andolino, political science.
As part of her duties with that committee, she worked on the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, the second bill in the Republican's
"Contract with America" to become law. She led a team charged
with drafting legislation to restructure the Department of Commerce.
In 1997, she became a staff member with the Senate Committee
on Governmental Affairs, chaired by Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.).
Prior to taking the White House job in March of this year, she
worked for two years as staff director of the Senate Subcommittee
on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District
of Columbia, which is under the Senate Committee on Governmental
Affairs, chaired by Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio). In this
position, Simmons led the Subcommittee's efforts to address challenges
facing the federal work force.
Meanwhile, she married John Simmons (business administration,
finance option) '91, who recently became senior advisor at Akin,
Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, where he will work with former
U.S. Representative Bill Paxon. Kristine and John been together
since college, and now have two children, 31é2-year-old Caroline
and 11é2-year-old John Michael.
Like many working parents, Kristine strives to balance her family
commitments with her job. When the opportunity at the White House
came along, she thought it over very carefully before accepting.
The new post so far seems a good fit for her family life as well
as her job experience. Among her duties: advising the president
and White House senior staff on federalism, intergovernmental
relations and government reform issues; co-chairing the Bush Administration's
District of Columbia Task Force; and serving as White House Domestic
Policy Council liaison with cabinet agencies and Congress on federalism
and government reform issues. It doesn't happen on a daily basis,
but briefing President Bush on these topics is part of her job.
She has an office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,
and a pass that gets her into the White House West Wing.
She loved her previous jobs, but the 11-year Washington veteran
admits that working for the White House is special. "It's exciting
to be there."
On a visit to RIT in May to speak at a Women's Council luncheon,
Simmons marveled at the changes. "I'm impressed with the development
of the campus, in terms of both the academic buildings and those
intended to enhance student life."