From Constituent to Congressional Staffer: One LI Graduate’s Story
March 12, 2012 | By Lauren Hart
James Wesolek leads constituents on tours around the U.S. Capitol. He drafts reply letters back to citizens living in his district. He helps keep the Congressman’s website up to date.
James is on the front lines of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he works as a staff assistant to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06), his Member of Congress since boyhood.
“The training the Leadership Institute offers is second to none in my book, and I owe a good portion of my career to it,” James said. “The things I have learned have put me far above my peers with only real world experience, so I recommend LI training to anyone thinking about making a career in politics.”
His childhood passion for politics and teenager activism has only grown in recent years. Now, James is making a career of it all.
James previously worked as an assistant for The Carlyle Gregory Company, LLC, a media and political consulting firm for candidates, public figures, political institutions, and businesses. Before that, he was a campaign coordinator for Blaine Young for County Commissioner and a field director for Hough For Delegate.
“I grew up hearing about the Leadership Institute,” James said. “However, it wasn’t until after college and after managing a campaign that I realized how invaluable LI’s training is.”
James grew up in Frederick, Maryland and was homeschooled with his two younger sisters.
“We were taught from a young age that individuals can always make a better choice than the government,” James said.
“Election Day was one of the few ‘homeschool holidays’ we had. Our house was a block away from the local polling location so
my family would go wave signs and pass out literature outside
the polls," James remembered. "My mother would even make a large pot of soup to pass out to volunteers.”
But it wasn’t until James was 15-years-old that he made campaigning his own. He went door-to-door and chatted with fellow Marylanders about State Senator Alex Mooney and his campaign.
After taking LI’s Youth Leadership School and Campaign Management School back to back, James applied for LI’s internship, and was placed last spring in the Institute’s development department. Since then, he’s taken eight LI trainings.
“I've taken many schools at the Leadership Institute,” James explained, “and each school offers something different, and has helped me in different ways throughout my campaign and consulting experiences.”
James continued, adding an example, “The things I learned in the LI’s direct mail school have come in handy as I work on constituent letters in my current job.”
You too can be trained in direct mail and fundraising.
“LI training is like drinking from a fire hose,” James said. “There is so much great material thrown at you, just try your best to soak it all in!”
Please welcome James as the Leadership Institute Graduate of the Week.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.