Editor's note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights the work of African Americans who are contributing to the President's goals for winning the future.
I live and breathe Capitol Hill. This passion for politics and public policy is due in large part to my father George. He has always been more than a parent to me. My father taught me not only the value of hard work, but how to be responsible and how to make the most of my potential. He helped me appreciate the nexus between education and opportunity which helped motivate me to attain degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park and the George Washington University School of Law. During these many life lessons, my father also became my professional mentor and I would not be in this job today if not for his professional guidance. He exposed me to Capitol Hill and shared the keys of how to be successful – being true to your word, respecting those with differing viewpoints, and not allowing emotion to cloud your political and policy judgment.
For most of my professional career, I have worked on Capitol Hill and walked the hallowed halls of Congress. I got my start on the Hill in the early 1990s as an intern for former Rep. Craig Washington and for former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. As a full time staffer, I served as Legislative Director for former Rep. Major Owens and the current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. Prior to joining the Obama Administration in January of 2009, I was Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. My work for these Members of Congress prepared me and honed the skills that I use to advocate for the President’s agenda on the Hill.
In my current role, I serve as the senior advisor to the Vice President on all matters before the United States Congress. As the liaison for the Vice President on Capitol Hill, my responsibilities include developing and executing the congressional outreach and strategic legislative plan for the Vice President. I have participated in White House efforts to win passage of key pieces of legislation including the Recovery Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Act, and the extension of middle class tax cuts. Having this opportunity is a dream come true.
Last month, I had the privilege to see and hear the President’s State of the Union Address in person. With the President’s agenda in hand, I now have the responsibility of arming the Vice President with information and updates as he interacts with his former congressional colleagues in furtherance of the “Winning the Future” vision outlined by the President. However, advancing the President’s agenda will also require me to help shape routine pieces of legislation, such as annual spending bills, that will contain the critical investments necessary to bring the President’s vision to life through becoming law. I feel privileged to play a role, no matter how small, in helping to build a stronger country for my children.
Sudafi Henry is Assistant to the Vice President and Director of Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Vice President.