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Byline: Naureen Khan and Christopher Snow Hopkins

Interest Groups : James Duff

Educating the public about constitutional liberties has always been close to James Duff’s heart. That particular passion is what got him involved with the Freedom Forum, the organization that operates the Newseum and champions First Amendment rights. This summer, Duff, 57, takes over as president and CEO of the forum. He inherits the position from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Overby, who is retiring.


“The freedoms that are embodied in our Constitution and the fact that our courts are protecting those freedoms distinguishes us from all other countries around the world,C[yen] Duff says. “The only way to preserve those freedoms is to have an educated public.C[yen]

Duff will be leaving his job as chief administrative officer of the U.S. Courts, a position that Chief Justice John Roberts asked him to assume in 2006. In that post, Duff presides over 35,000 employees and a $7 billion budget. “Working with our federal judges has been a real honor,C[yen] he says. “The opportunity to work with them to preserve the independence of the judiciary and obtain needed resources for the proper functioning has been very rewarding.C[yen]

Hailing from Hamilton, Ohio, Duff attended the University of Kentucky, where he was a basketball team walk-on, before arriving in Washington in 1975 and earning his law degree from Georgetown University. Duff has dabbled on Capitol Hill, been in private practice, and worked in the chambers of several Supreme Court justices. He currently teaches an undergraduate course on civil liberties at Georgetown.

Naureen Khan

Hill People : Kristie Greco

Like many Capitol Hill faithful, Kristie Greco started down the path to public service as an intern. An educational summer spent in the office of Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., while she was a student at Villanova led to a job as a staff assistant and then a legislative correspondent for the lawmaker. Greco, 36, has been climbing up the Hill career ladder in the 13 years since then, most recently serving as communications director for Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina. Now, she is packing her bags and heading south to Charlotte, N.C., where she will be communications director for the Democratic National Convention.

“We’ll be preparing to nominate the president and vice president for reelection,C[yen] Greco says, and will “handle the planning and outreach to the community of Charlotte, the state of North Carolina, and the region.C[yen] When the time comes, she adds, “we’ll be communicating the priorities of the convention and the nominee.C[yen]

Greco cut her teeth as press secretary for Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., from 2000 to ‘o6. When she joined Clyburn’s staff, the South Carolinian was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus but still a relatively unknown figure on the national stage. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006 and Clyburn became majority whip, Greco began playing in an altogether different ball game, working with the entire party leadership to shape the Democrats’ message and get it out to districts across the country.

“The transition C* to the majority meant the change from fighting to be relevant to everything you do is front-page news,C[yen] she says.

Working to make the often-esoteric nuts and bolts of policy and legislating accessible to the American public keeps Greco challenged and engaged.

“Capitol Hill is very policy driven,C[yen] she says. “The legalese in a bill doesn’t translate very well to the front page of a newspaper or the evening news, so I think that step is very important–communicating to people how the legislation directly impacts their lives.C[yen]

During her five years with Clyburn, Greco cites promoting Democrats’ landmark legislative accomplishments–from passing health care reform to imposing new regulations on Wall Street–as one highlight and witnessing the election of the first African-American president through the eyes of the highest-ranking black member of the Democratic Party as another.

“The people who work here are dedicated to what they do and are passionate about what they do, and that’s invigorating and inspiring,C[yen] Greco says. “To collaborate with them–whether it’s a colleague or a member or a reporter–is very rewarding.C[yen]


Consulting Game: William Navas

Toward the beginning of his tenure at the Navy Department, Maj. Gen. William Navas sat down with his boss.

“Look, 70 percent of the Navy’s budget is spent on people,C[yen] he told then-Navy Secretary Gordon England. “It’s not on airplanes, it’s not on ships, and it’s not on steaming hours. It’s on people-related costs: housing, medical, retirement, and moving people from place to place.C[yen]

In delivering his report, Navas exploded “the old mentality that people are cheap and equipment is expensive.C[yen] That paradigm, he says, does not fit the realities of an all-volunteer force, in which the Navy must entice “the best and the brightestC[yen] away from the private sector.

Navas, 68, retired from the military earlier this year but has agreed to work part-time at government-relations shop Dawson and Associates, with one proviso: “Like I told Bob Dawson,C[yen] the firm’s president and founder, “ever since I was commissioned in 1965, I have been in charge of something. I’d like to be part of a crew, not a crew chief.C[yen]

Navas was born in MayagE-ez, Puerto Rico. His great-great-grandfather emigrated from Valencia, Spain, in the mid-18th century. Denied the familial patrimony (which, by law, was bequeathed to his older brother), Navas’s forebear had three choices: the military, the clergy, or the New World. He and another brother–also barred from the family estate–set out for Puerto Rico in the 1750s.

Navas, like his 92-year-old father, studied civil engineering at the University of Puerto Rico. After graduating, he was commissioned in the Army and later found himself in the jungles of Vietnam, where he commanded 160 combat engineers as they divested mountaintops of vegetation; cleared minefields; repaired roads; and built trenches, water towers, and sandbag embankments.


After the war, Navas established an engineering and land-development firm in western Puerto Rico where he worked for 10 years. In 1981, he came to Washington to study at the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair. Shortly thereafter, he returned to active duty, with assignments to Panama, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

When President Bush took office in 2001, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called on former Army Secretary John Marsh–who had mentored Navas–to help him restructure the department. Marsh recommended his former protE[umlaut]gE[umlaut] for a top position in the Navy.

Christopher Snow Hopkins

Consulting Game: Daniel Franklin

Daniel Franklin’s career has spanned three professions over two decades and is propelled by a single quest. “I have always been fascinated by the question of why people think what they think,C[yen] Franklin says, “and why they change their minds.C[yen]

That’s the basis of his work today with the Benenson Strategy Group, a Washington polling and consulting firm, where last month Franklin was named a principal. He will continue advising clients while taking on a heavier share of internal responsibilities.

“The simplest way of putting it is, we have a range of clients who have questions about how they should proceed on important strategic challenges, given the state of public opinion,C[yen] he says. “My job is to figure out what is the best way to proceed.C[yen]

Franklin, 39, started at Benenson in 2006 and has had a busy five years since then. He was lead pollster for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, as well as for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent-expenditure campaigns in 2006, 2008, and 2010. He worked for lead pollster Joel Benenson on the team that conducted polling and communications research for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. In addition, Franklin has done work for a number of corporate and nonprofit clients ranging from the National Football League and the New York State Public Service Commission to T-Mobile and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Early in his career, Franklin’s interest in what makes people tick manifested itself as a love for journalism. A native of Dayton, Ohio, he recalls being intrigued from a young age by the newspaper world.

“I remember my eyes just getting wide at the thrill of watching newspaper [printing presses],C[yen] he says. “It was beautiful, and it really got to me. I totally fell in love with it.C[yen]

Franklin spent his undergraduate years at Columbia as an editor at his college newspaper, The Spectator, and landed as a writer and editor for Washington Monthly after graduating. He has also freelanced for Time magazine, USA Today, Slate, Mother Jones, and The American Prospect, but has at several points in his career felt compelled to get off the sidelines. “I loved being a journalist, but I always felt that I wanted to be not just reporting on the decisions being made but also contributing to them,C[yen] Franklin says. The impulse led him to work as a speechwriter for Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend from 1996 to 2001 and for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in 2002 and 2003.

The world of polling and strategic consulting held a special appeal because it combined the skills he had learned as a journalist and a speechwriter–allowing him to get into people’s heads and put that information to good use. He is currently based in Manhattan.

“When I am able to conduct a focus group with ordinary people on economic issues or social issues or even something as simple as a product, I can understand how people are living; that’s fascinating,C[yen] Franklin says. “It is extraordinary to be in the ring when important things are being discussed and determined.C[yen]