Going Local: A Conversation with District Directors
June 11, 2020
Whether a Member of Congress has one or multiple district/state offices, each office serves as an integral part of the Member’s service to his or her constituents. Each office is under the direction of a District Director, who serves as the overseer of district operations, developer of local policy objectives, and liaison with community leaders and other constituents. It’s no easy task and takes the right skill set to manage effectively.
The Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) and the John Brademas Center of New York University co-hosted a conversation with six District Directors that focused on their work directing all activities and staff of the district office.
This conversation was part of the Young Leaders Network series. Current NYU undergraduates, Kathy Li and Robi Lopez-Irizarry, who are taking part in the John Brademas Center Internship Program, served as co-moderators.
This event was free and open to everyone. Registration was required in order to receive log-in information for the webinar. This webinar was recorded.
Joe Abner, District Director, Office of Rep. Steven Chabot (R-OH)
Joseph Abner currently serves as the District Director for Congressman Steve Chabot, representing the First Congressional District of Ohio. He is going into my ninth year of working for him in the Cincinnati district office. I started in January of 2011 as Constituent Liaison, and started his role as District Director in January of 2019. He have a degree in Business Management. He has a set of twin daughters; that turned fifteen in March of this year.
Rick Adkins, Deputy Chief of Staff/District Director, Office of Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Rick has managed the Constituent Services and Outreach staff for the 11 counties of the 3rd Congressional District of South Carolina since January 2011.
Rick spent 21 years in the mortgage business, owning his own company, before selling it to the Peoples Bank (Anderson, SC ) in 2007. He is active in numerous clubs and organizations in the community. He is a board member of A.I.M. (15 years), serving 3 terms as Chairman of the Board, 1 year as Vice-Chairman, 2 terms as Governance Chairman and currently Chairman of the Finance Committee. He is a member of the Southern Wesleyan University Benson School of Business Advisory Board. He is a member of the Anderson Rotary Club and has served as membership chairman, Sergeant-at-Arms and is currently Chairman of Health and Happiness. He is a 2018 Paul Harris Fellow. He was a member of the DHEC OCRM Appellate Panel and served on the South Carolina State Board of Education, 2 years as the Finance Chairman and 2 years on the Educator Licensing Review Committee. He served in the inaugural class of Leadership Next in Anderson. He has been a Deacon at Concord Baptist Church and was the Chairman of the Youth Ministry search committee. Rick holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Finance from Clemson University
Rick Jakious, District Director, Office of Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rick is the district director for U.S. Representative Seth Moulton. Rick is focused on making sure that government works for the constituents of the Sixth District of Massachusetts and finding ways to combine the strengths of government, nonprofit and business to improve people’s lives. Previously, Rick was the CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, representing the interests of thousands of small- to medium-sized nonprofit organizations in the Commonwealth. Rick led efforts to pass first-in-the-nation legislation to create a high quality, affordable 401(k) for nonprofit workers by leveraging existing state resources at no additional cost to taxpayers. He established an annual award for the unsung frontline workers at nonprofits, in honor of a Boston youth worker slain by a senseless act of gun violence. Rick was tapped by Governor Deval Patrick to join the board of the Massachusetts Health Connector in order to help execute a turnaround of the failed health exchange and protect health insurance for tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents. Earlier in his career, Rick helped veterans and active military personnel get the services they deserved as a caseworker for U.S. Representative Brian Baird. He also worked in many roles at City Year, a national nonprofit program working to end our nation’s high school dropout crisis. Rick is the board chair of Beyond Walls, a public arts organization activating spaces to foster more livable, economically viable, and equitable communities, and he has been a regular volunteer with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, RAW Art Works, and Boy Scouts of America. He is a proud AmeriCorps alumnus.
Kathy Mahan, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Kathy is the deputy chief of staff for the Congressman Jim Costa, who represents the Fresno, Madera and Merced area of California’s central San Joaquin Valley. She is a key advisor, manager and communications director for the Congressman and is based out of Costa’s Fresno district office. Prior to working in Congress, she spent 25 years as a journalist. She has a strong background in news, entertainment and digital/social storytelling. She has been married to her husband Kevin for 20 years. They have one really spoiled cat, Storm. Kathy loves to travel, cook, read, take photos, exercise, collect art and go to concerts, theater and other shows, along with spending time with her family and friends.
Chris Miller, District Director, Office of Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL)
Chris was raised in a rural town of western Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Relations from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Chris then served 30 years in the United States Army. While in the Army, he received a Master of Business Administration in Management from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He also completed the NATO Senior Officer’s Course at the NATO Defence College, Rome, Italy. Chris served mainly throughout Europe and the eastern part of the United States. Since retiring from the Army, Chris has helped various small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Jacksonville, Florida. He also assisted candidate John Rutherford with his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, Florida, District 4. Chris then served as Representative Rutherford’s Deputy District Director for three months. He has been Representative Rutherford’s District Director for the past 37 months.
Megan Sims, District Director, Office of Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)
Megan Sims currently serves as the District Director for Congressman André Carson (IN-07). Over the last decade, Megan has served in a variety of roles in the official and campaign offices for Congressman Carson. During her tenure, she has handled a wide variety of issue areas, including transportation, small businesses, grants and labor unions. As District Director, she oversees all district office operations, serves as a liaison to the community and works to implement policy objectives and strategic operating plans for the 7th Congressional District. Megan is a lifelong Hoosier and prior to joining Congressman Carson’s office, Megan was employed in various levels of government and politics within the State of Indiana.