ALAYNA VAN TASSEL
32, MARRIED, NATICK
CHIEF OF STAFF, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON POST AUDIT AND OVERSIGHT
Van Tassel and the six staffers she oversees for committee chair David Linsky might be in for some time in the media glare — they've been charged with investigating the state crime lab fiasco.
She's ready for the spotlight, our panelists say. "She's smart and chic," says one. "A true inspiration," raves another.
Van Tassel is back in her hometown of Natick, and back working on Beacon Hill, after three years in Washington — where she picked up a master's degree from George Washington University. She also ran the Boston Marathon. And our panel attests to her cookie-baking mastery, too.
Job title: Chief of staff, House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight
Held since: 2010
Marital/relationship status; children; pets: Married; dog Oliver T. Puppy (the T stands for "the"); two cats Bella and Ajax.
Originally from: Natick
What you do: As chief of staff I am responsible for the overall management of Chairman David Linsky's office in the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee, and I supervise six staff members.
I work directly with the chairman to set the policy agenda, and advise on strategies to expedite his legislative and budget priorities. Recently, I served as point person for the successful veto override of the salary reserve funding, and staffed the chairman on the Conference Committee for Melissa's Bill.
The House Post Audit and Oversight Committee investigates issues of concern to the Commonwealth, and presents possible solutions. This session, the Committee issued reports on the Lyme disease epidemic, and how reforms to the Massachusetts Indigency Criminal Defense Program can save the Commonwealth $10 million annually. The Committee has recently been charged with investigating the state crime lab.
One experience that made you glad to do this work: I don't think anything can surpass the work I did in support of marriage equality, following the Goodridge v. DPH ruling during the 2003-2004 legislative session. It was such an emotionally charged debate, with incredibly high stakes. The entire country was watching to see what the Massachusetts legislature was going to do. I still get emotional thinking about it. It was a historic moment for our state and country, and it is an experience I will be telling my grandchildren about.
Other jobs: Budget and policy director, Senator Patricia Jehlen; staff director, Representative Alice Wolf; office of Government Relations, Georgetown University Hospital; government relations fellow, Population Connection; legislative aide, Representative Alice Peisch.
Other activities: Boston Marathon Finisher, 2010; Suffolk University CAS Alumni Board; Natick Democratic Town Committee.
Path to Beacon Hill: I went to Suffolk University for my bachelor's degree, and started interning in the State House during my freshman year. One of the reasons that I went to Suffolk was because I knew I could start getting involved in politics immediately. I interned in several different offices in both the house and senate during college, and was actually one of Chairman Linsky's first interns when I was an undergrad.
Because I had interned at the State House and in Washington D.C., I was able to get a legislative aide position immediately after graduating from college. Despite loving Boston and Beacon Hill I wanted to experience Washington D.C.. After three years as a legislative aide, I made the decision to go to D.C. to get my master's degree at George Washington University. I am glad I had the D.C. experience (I met my husband there), it made me realize that I wanted to be in Boston. After three years in D.C., I came back to Boston, and back to Beacon Hill. Personal style: Classic and colorful is probably the best way to describe my work style. I make an effort to be polished and professional every day, but I definitely think beyond a traditional black pants suit.
I view fashion as a form of self expression. I like wearing color. I have a lot of suit dresses in jewel tones, and am known for the yellow jacket I wear in the fall and spring. I try to find high-quality classic pieces that I can get a lot of mileage out of, and avoid items that are too trendy. Favorite thing about working in the State House: The people. I work with some of the greatest people on the planet. It is one of the reasons why I love my job. Even after people leave the State House, you maintain those friendships. The relationships I made when I first started at the State House are still some of my closest friends.
One thing you would change to make State House work more "beautiful": People work at the State House and go into public service because they want to make a difference in the world — it doesn't get more beautiful than that.