Joy Lee departed college with a journalism degree and an eye on broadcast reporting. Instead, she found her way to Capitol Hill — and Democratic leaders have been grateful ever since. 

As deputy communications director for House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (Mass.), Lee helps the party to hone its public image, broadcast its policy priorities and unite behind efforts to stymie the legislative agenda of the majority Republicans — all with an eye toward winning back control of the chamber in next year’s elections.

Not everything is partisan combat, however, and much of Clark’s charge is to work across the aisle to pass bills that enjoy bipartisan support, which means a lot of time coordinating with the office of the majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). 

“There’s constant communication, and I think it’s very cordial,” Lee said. 

The job requires long hours and lots of hard work, with little public recognition for either. Still, Lee, 31, says the benefits are worth the price. 

“You have to be dedicated to making this a priority in your life, because you don’t really have time to do anything else,” she said. 

Lee, a native of South Korea, has plenty of leadership experience to lean on. Her first job on the Hill in 2015 was with then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who would go on to serve a second stint as Speaker. Lee rose as well, to eventually become Pelosi’s press secretary. Her resume puts her in a unique position, having worked for the most powerful woman in the House for the entirety of her time on Capitol Hill. 

“A big part of the reward,” she said, “is being a part of an office you enjoy.”


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