Name: Lindsay Garcia
Hometown: Liberty, Mo.
Position: Energy policy director and counsel for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Alma Mater: Vanderbilt University, William & Mary Law School
Washington Examiner: How did you first become interested in this field?
Garcia: I don't ever remember not wanting to work on Capitol Hill or in D.C. When I was little I gave my dad a tie that had illustrations of a kid from kindergarten through elementary school, high school, college, law school and then in the White House. When I was in high school I religiously watched "The West Wing" with my mom and I just knew that I wanted to be in D.C. but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. I embarked in college on the "work for anybody who will let me for free" train. I worked at a TV station one summer because I thought I might like to do political reporting, but I didn't love that as much. I also worked for the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] and interned at the [Republican Governors Association]. Then I interned on the Hill one summer and I just absolutely loved it and fell in love with it up here and knew I wanted to come back. After law school I had a bunch of internships, but I didn't have a lot of in-depth policy experience and specific policy knowledge. Instead of coming straight to the Hill after law school, I went downtown to work at a lobbying and consulting firm and worked with business and industry clients that were actually working in the field and really learned from that side. After about four years, I came up here to work on energy and environmental policy.
Washington Examiner: What was the name of the firm? And did it focus a lot on energy consulting?
Garcia: It has been renamed as Signal Group. They had an energy team and they had a lot of Tennessee-based clients.
Washington Examiner: Now that you're on the Hill and working on these issues, what would you say are some of the biggest projects that stand out?
Garcia: I do energy, environment and conservation of public lands; it covers the gamut. With energy I work on nuclear energy and basic energy research. These are two of the boss' biggest priorities that we work on as a team here. I also work a lot on conservation and public lands and parks issues. That's something that you don't really work on when you work downtown unless you work for a specific national park conservation association, because there aren't a lot of corporate businesses that are up here talking about national park issues all of the time. So that has been a really fun new area to work on.
Washington Examiner: Tell me more about it.
Garcia: It's a really exciting area to work on, particularly in this office, because Sen. Alexander grew up just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He lived there throughout his childhood so he has a big personal connection to the parks and has a lot of personal stories, and so it's a personal passion of his, which makes it a really fun issue for us to work on. We get to go back to the state with him and go to do a bunch of park events. The No. 1 reason I travel back to the state is to go to different national parks throughout the state. You're also working on a tangible issue. You're talking about land and a place that people can go and visit and enjoy, which also makes it easier to explain to people back at home what you do when you're working on something like that, as opposed to a complex energy funding issue. It's one of the things that I didn't anticipate that I would spend as much time on as I do, or that I would necessarily enjoy it as much as I do.
Washington Examiner: Do you have a favorite national park?
Garcia: In Tennessee the Smoky Mountains are beautiful. When I was growing up, we rented a van and my parents took us out West for four weeks. I just loved Arches National Park when I was out there.
Washington Examiner: How do you talk to people about nuclear energy back at home?
Garcia: Nuclear energy has been around for a while. We're not building very many new nuclear plants throughout the country right now and so people don't talk about it as much, and I think they don't really understand how important it is to our generation mix. Nuclear provides 20 percent of all the electricity in the U.S. and over 60 percent of the carbon-free electricity in the U.S. So it is really the big contributor to clean electricity. It operates 24 hours a day, runs all the time, so it is what really helps give us the ability to turn the lights on and make sure that our phone is charged when we wake up in the morning. In Tennessee, it's really important to all of our manufacturers.
Washington Examiner: Is there anyone in particular in the new administration that you're looking forward to working with?
Garcia: Secretary [Ryan] Zinke, leading the Department of the Interior, grew up just outside of a national park the way that Sen. Alexander did. There's a lot of commonality there, and they'll be able to work on some important issues for the parks. There's a lot of maintenance backlog issues that Secretary Zinke and the president have said they want to tackle, and it's also a really important to Sen. Alexander. Secretary [Rick] Perry at the Department of Energy was just in Tennessee with Sen. Alexander at Oak Ridge National Lab learning about the good work they are doing there. They're both former governors and have known each other for a while.
Washington Examiner: Do you have a story you could share about Sen. Alexander?
Garcia: Last year was the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service and we went back to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a centennial event. The superintendent of the park had been leading boy scouts and elementary school kids on hikes throughout the park, and so they agreed to do one with Sen. Alexander for the centennial. It was about 1.5 miles and there were about 100 kids there. Sen. Alexander sets off with his walking stick (he collects walking sticks) and he's leading the trail and about halfway through this fifth grade boy scout turns around and looks at me and goes, "I didn't know this was going to be a real hike!"
Washington Examiner: What do you do for fun?
Garcia: My husband and I, and we are indoctrinating our son, are very big Nats fans. Our first date was at a Nationals game and then we became season ticketholders. We had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding at Nats park; we rented out a suite during the game and all our friends came. We have already taken our 1-year-old to five different Major League Baseball stadiums across the country.