Name: Caroline Thorman
Hometowns: Marietta and Fairmount, Ga.
Position: Communications director for Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.
Alma Mater: University of North Georgia
Washington Examiner: How did you get to where you are today?
Thorman: It all started when I was 14 years old, and I attended a program called TeenPact at the Georgia State Capitol. It’s one week out of the year where you go and learn about state government, and you do mock legislature. I realized then and there that these issues government is involved in and is legislating on directly impacts me on a personal level, along with my family and friends. I’m one of nine children, so most of my siblings went through the program, too. My parents have always been politically active and involved, but it was at TeenPact where my passion to fight for people and help others through public service was ignited.
Washington Examiner: How did you then start out on the Hill?
Thorman: Through friends and some involvement with Young Republicans. I helped volunteer on a campaign for a state senator in Georgia and took advantage of some opportunities that presented itself. I had the privilege of working as a legislative aide at the Georgia State Capitol and fell in love with the process and getting to be a part of policy debates.
After I finished college, I went through an academic fellowship called the John Jay Institute where they are dedicated to preparing principled leaders for public service. I was motivated to take the knowledge I gained there and apply it to serve people on the national level.
I came to D.C. to work for a Congressman [Barry] Loudermilk from Georgia. I started out as a legislative correspondent, then became a legislative assistant, and then moved over to communications.
From there, I fell in love with this place. Establishing yourself in a career is hard work and a noble cause in government. But if you lose your main focus, which is serving and caring for people you represent and providing opportunities for them, then you will lose sight of your purpose.
Washington Examiner: And then, how did you join Rep. Hill's Office?
Thorman: A friend connected me with Congressman French Hill. I went through the interview process, really respected him and the team, and saw that it would be a great opportunity to grow in my skill sets. Like my previous boss, he isn’t here to build a name for himself, but here to help others. I wanted to stay a part of a team that was servant-oriented.
I got connected in June and started my current role July 1 of this year.
Washington Examiner: When you are at work, what are your biggest responsibilities?
Thorman: It's a balancing act of writing, building friendships with people, trying to get my boss out there as much as possible on things he prioritizes and the things that matter to him and his constituents.
Pushing out our ideas and storytelling is a huge part of this job. Letting people know that we really do care, that we are here to serve them is what it’s all about — because it's really about them, not us.
Washington Examiner: Have you been there, to Arkansas?
Thorman: Yes, I went to Arkansas in August. It’s an awesome place. People are very friendly, hospitable, down to earth. I liked the simple values and principles I found in the people of Arkansas. I felt a kindred spirit there since they are a lot like Georgians. I am happy to be working on their behalf, and I love their state.
Washington Examiner: What lessons have you learned in your time in this job?
Thorman: I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned here is not to be a respecter of persons, to respect positions that lawmakers hold, but it's really about people — loving and caring for them. That really needs to be communicated on all levels. I believe it’s important that we treat the janitor the same as a lawmaker and show them the same respect, because we're here to represent the people we’re working for.
Washington Examiner: Was there something in particular that led to that realization?
Caroline Thorman: The culture in D.C. is just very go, go, go. And people don't make a lot of time to connect with people, and that grated on me a lot when I first came here. Coming from Georgia, people are making pies for each other left and right, and people are very kind and very generous. It's a little different culture here in D.C., but there are some real gems living in this city that I have the privilege of calling friends.
Washington Examiner: What was your coolest Hill experience?
Thorman: Being able to work on the Hill is an experience in itself, but one of my favorites was when President Trump came out from the joint address, and I took an involuntary selfie with him. He was looking at the camera, but he wasn't necessarily looking at it for me. But it was such a historical moment to be a part of as I got to watch history unfold.
Another one would be traveling with the Air Force. When I did military policy, I went on a few staff delegations with the Air Force. Flying over Pikes Peak in a C-130 was a really neat surreal, experience.
Also, going to Taiwan last Thanksgiving was an experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot on that trip about our country’s relations with them and enjoyed meeting the people there and being immersed in their culture for a week.
Washington Examiner: How is it working with the press every day? Frustrating?
Thorman: They have a lot of influence on people, and it's really important as a communicator to work well with them and to be respectful. The frustrating part can be when they report something one-sided or inaccurate, but I’d say overall I work well with them and appreciate my press friends.
Washington Examiner: You're one of nine — are you the oldest?
Thorman: I'm the sixth.
Washington Examiner: What do you do when you're not at work?
Thorman: Besides trying to keep up with everyone in my family and all my nieces and nephews, I do a lot with my youth group at my church, Cherrydale Baptist. Besides that, I really enjoy hanging out with friends, playing ultimate Frisbee, and I love hiking and being outside. It’s the best.
Washington Examiner: What's your favorite hike?
Thorman: Here, definitely the Shenandoah. I try to go out as much as possible, but I recently sprained my ankle cliff jumping, so for the past few months I haven't been able to hike too much.
Washington Examiner: What's at the top of your playlist right now?
Thorman: Lecrae. I really like Christian rap, true story. I think Lecrae’s got some really powerful lyrics. I also love Needtobreathe. Oh, and Josh Turner — can’t leave him out. He’s the best country singer out there, and I was able to listen to him live at my school one year. He was fantastic.