Every morning for the past eight years, Jennifer Loraine wakes up, hops in her car and drives a little over six miles to her office in Washington D.C. She sits in the heavy traffic among a bevy of other Capitol Hill staffers just trying to get to work — but the 34-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her morning commute down Rock Creek Parkway includes driving by the residence of the Vice President of the United States,
the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and the George Washington monument — in that order. “It’s sometimes surreal to me,” Loraine says.
Going through two sets of breaks through the stop-and-go traffic of D.C. ranks close to the heavy traffic she grew up with at Lake of the Ozarks. Yet just like the summer traffic at the Lake, if the cherry blossoms are in bloom in D.C., Loraine adds another half hour to her commute due to the tourists. Pulling into an underground parking garage and riding on the underground train, she makes her way to her office in the United States Capitol Building.
Loraine recently took on the role of senior policy advisor and counsel for the United States House of Representatives Minority
Leader Kevin McCarthy, and is happy with the course her life has taken. Coming on board with McCarthy as the House Majority
Leader in May of 2018, the Village of Four Seasons native from Central Missouri has worked hard to earn the respect she has gained on Capitol Hill.
It took a series of strategic moves, a supportive family and a bit of fate to land Loraine behind the scenes in the epicenter of the political world, but she certainly doesn’t forget that she hails from a little town at the Lake of the Ozarks.
AN ALL-AMERICAN FAMILY If she’s not traveling to the Southern border to meet with border patrol agents, stepping aboard a nuclear powered submarine, or flying to the panhandle of Florida to assess hurricane damage, you’ll most likely find Loraine spending time with her family.
Born and raised in the heart of the Midwest, she is the youngest of four children of Tom and Carolyn Loraine. Born March 4, 1984, she watched as her mother became involved in local public service, serving as the first female school board member at School of the Osage in 1988; and the first female presiding Commissioner for Camden County in 2003.
“I think that, subconsciously, my mother’s involvement in local politics stuck with me, and I realized that more and more as I got
older,” Loraine says. Her father, a practicing attorney at the Lake, equally influenced his youngest daughter, as she later decided to
follow in his footsteps and attend law school.
“My parents have really been my driving force,” she says. “They taught us that if you commit to something, you stick to it and see
that commitment through. It really instilled a good work ethic in all of us.”
While being surrounded by people in positions of power everyday, Loraine still awards credit to her parents for giving her a solid
foundation on which to thrive. “Both of my parents have beenextremely encouraging, extremely loving and taught me so much. They really gave each of us the tools we need to go out into the world and become successful human beings,” she says.
Remaining close to her siblings has been important to Loraine. Keeping in constant contact with her brother and sisters, the four
even travel together on vacation each year. Her brother Bradley is a construction contractor at Lake of the Ozarks; her sister Sandra Schaefer is a teacher at Camdenton High School; and her sister Michelle Heyer is a veterinarian in Iowa.
“I run all of my big decisions by them, because they are my closest friends and I couldn’t imagine my life without them,” Loraine says. As for the assumption that making friends in Washington D.C. is nearly impossible, she says she hasn’t had any problems making friends on the Hill.
“The old saying goes that if you want a friend in Washington D.C., buy a dog, but I have made a lot of friends here and used to carpool from D.C. back to Missouri in my earlier days as a staffer.”
After graduating from School of the Osage in 2002, Loraine went on to study at Saint Louis University (SLU) in St. Louis, Missouri. During the spring semester of her sophomore year, she made the decision to study abroad by attending the Semester at Sea program, which was through the University of Pittsburgh at the time.
Although she had grown up traveling across the United States with her family, the voyage opened her eyes to the world and exposed her to issues that she was able to see firsthand.
“In India, I saw poverty unlike anything I’d ever seen before — people were living under tarps and the water was contaminated,” Loraine says. It was during this five-month adventure that she says her eyes were opened to a more global perspective. Recalling her time in China, she says she took a photo of the Chinese military doing a march in Tiananmen Square and was asked by a military official to put her camera away.
“That entire trip made me realize how privileged we are as Americans. We have the freedom to change anything about ourlives — any situation we are in — we are allowed to change it,” Loraine says. Learning for the first time in her life to be away from her family, she says that in retrospect, the trip gave her big aspirations and helped influence the person she would become.
Studying aboard a cruise ship and learning about each country before arriving, Jennifer got to see places including Africa, India, Cuba, China, Vietnam and Brazil. While in awe of visiting such historic landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the tunnels of Cu Chi in Vietnam, Jennifer also was intrigued by the people and the cultural experiences.
“It had a profound effect on her. She was so appreciative of tha ttrip and the time she was able to spend in each country; it gave her a different perspective of the world,” says her mother, Carolyn Loraine.
Returning to St. Louis for her junior year, Loraine reflected on her future endeavors and became serious about figuring out her path.“It was during that time that I really started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. Although I wasn’t exactly sure at that point, I knew that I wanted to get my law degree, and I wanted to do something to help others” she says. After graduating from SLU with her bachelor of arts degree in 2006, Loraine went on to obtain her law degree from the University of Missouri‒Kansas City School of Law in 2009.
“I started to get the Washington D.C. bug during my Constitutional Law class, where I was just reading about the Supreme Court cases,”she recalls. “I started paying attention to the Supreme Court justices, learning about them, where they were from and how they got to where they are. That had a bit of an influence over me, and was when I started thinking that Washington D.C. really is a place where so much goes on that determines so much for our nation.”
ON GROWING UP AT LAKE OF THE OZARKS
Admitting to having a great childhood growing up at Lake of the Ozarks, Loraine says it’s still one of her favorite places to be when she finds the time to make it home. Enjoying the Lake itself is still one of her favorite things to do.
“I grew up as a Lake rat. That’s why I try to get out and hike as much as I can in Maryland and Virginia. It’s hard to be inside so
much, because I grew up outdoors on the Lake with wave runners, boats and swimming,” Loraine says.
Enjoying her time as a student at the School of the Osage, Loraine says she always liked her teachers and classmates. Becoming involved in student council led to her becoming her senior class president, and she also was involved in the drama club, Spanish club, yearbook staff and volleyball.
“From grade school to law school, I’ve been lucky to have great groups of people over the years who were instrumental in my life
during that time,” Loraine says.
Loraine’s former classmate and longtime friend Kyle Kelly, coowner of Kelly’s Port Marina, says he’s not surprised by her success.
“Growing up, you could tell she was going to be a leader, and she has held her Midwest humility that has made her a good and successful person. She is sweet, but direct. To have a close friend who has accomplished what she has is amazing. I wish I was able to see her more, but I know she’s working hard in D.C.,” Kelly says.
Loraine also was no stranger to hard work while growing up at Lake of the Ozarks. Her list of part-time jobs includes working at
her family’s golf driving range, Vista Grande restaurant and the Polo store at the Osage Beach outlet mall.
MAKING A LASTING IMPRESSION ON WASHINGTON D.C.
Working for one year in Jefferson City, Missouri, at the Secretary of State Securities Division, was enough for the law-school grad to decide to try her hand working at the national level. It was U.S. Senator Kit Bond’s (R-MO) Chief of Staff who hired Loraine to archive the retiring Senator’s 24-year career in Washington D.C.
The former Senator recalls nothing but good things about Loraine and her time working for him near the end of his career. “Jennifer joined my team to help archive the activities of my Senate office,” Bond says. “Just arriving from Missouri, Jennifer was enthusiastic to learn and had that friendly, Show-Me State personality.
Those qualities, along with her hard work, have served her well in Washington. I am happy to see she joined the Majority Leader’s office earlier this year.”
From there, Loraine was hired on with incoming U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) team as a legislative correspondent when he was hiring a new staff. She impressed team Blunt and left a positive impression.“Jennifer was a great resource to my office and the people we serve. She’s a hard worker and a proud Missourian with a bright future ahead,” Senator Blunt says.
Using the best advice she received from a mentor in Washington D.C., Loraine followed the words of wisdom by keeping her head down, working hard and doing any task that was asked of her. “When you’re first getting started in D.C., you can’t think that you are above any job that’s given to you, so you do the work, observe and learn,” she says.
Ready to take on more responsibility, she went on to a position that helped expand her portfolio — with U.S. House of Representatives Cory Gardner (R-CO). Loraine made the jump with Gardner when he won his bid for the U.S. Senate, and worked as his senior energy advisor and counsel, taking on energy, natural resources and land issues. It was here where she was instrumental in helping then-Representative Gardner manage House Bill HR-6 on global prosperity during the 114th Congress.
“It’s a Bill that would put a timeline on the Federal Government’s approval of liquid natural gas export terminals that is very beneficial to our environment,” says Loraine, who helped Senator Gardner manage the Bill on the full floor of Congress. In fact, 46 Democrats joined the House Republicans to make the vote successful. Although the Bill has not yet been signed into law, it was a bipartisan success to be passed.
She attended the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Leadership Academy in Colorado in September
of 2016 to better understand renewable energy policies. She also won a Washington D.C. energy award for her work on policy related to energy-savings performance contracts for the Federal Government.“It has been a lot of hard work, focus and long hours,” Loraine says.
“Yet, I’ve been blessed to have leadership that has helped me grow in my job, and it brings tears to my eyes and humbles me to know that they were appreciative of my work. I’ve had really great bosses who were ambitious and believed in the policies they were pushing.”
“It’s hard to aim for any one position in D.C., so it’s a natural process to move incrementally,” she explains. She made an impression on Senator Gardner, and he praised her work ethic in a statement of support.
“When Jennifer joined my office, she immediately reminded me of the kind, caring and conscientious people I grew up with in rural Colorado,” Senator Gardner says. “She is a loyal and joyful public servant, working every moment to help the people of our country. I am proud of everything she accomplished for the people of Colorado during the four years she worked for me in
both the House and Senate. I could always count on her to go above and beyond and get the job done. She was an outstanding role model and counsel for younger staffers starting their careers. Having someone I could trust like Jenn helped me immensely in my work, and she has already proven herself outside my office. I look forward to continue watching her meteoric rise in Washington, D.C.”
According to Loraine, different experiences in D.C. have helped her grow to become a better staffer and understand different perspectives. She says her brain is trained to think in her former positions.
Enjoying what she does each day has been rewarding for the Midwestern girl in D.C. “I feel like I finally have my feet wet and have built a professional foundation, and I just find the city extremely rewarding. I’ve definitely put in the time and the work, and I find it fulfilling. I like helping and advising on issues where they should come down, and giving them the pros and cons of taking certain positions. I really like strategizing from behind the scenes. I am happy with public service and I enjoy what I’m doing.”
When the sun sets on Washington D.C. after a long day of meaningful work, Jennifer Loraine hops back in her car and travels a little over six miles to her home north of Georgetown. She sits in the heavy traffic among a bevy of other Capitol Hill staffers just
trying to get home — but the 34-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.