Quinones-Miranda is the chief of staff to the D.C. deputy mayor for health and human services. She recently won the city's Pat Handy Public Service Award "for her dedication to helping District residents."

What got you into public service?

My parents just raised me with a sense of giving back to the community and helping out others. That, and a lot of years in Catholic school.SClB

What have you found to be rewarding about it? I'm an attorney, and I kind of figured out early I didn't want to go work in a firm. The legal work I was doing was interesting, but the money part wasn't really that rewarding. And I think back to high school and job fairs and those personality tests to figure out what kind of job would be good for you. I had done some volunteer work, but I never thought of nonprofit work as a career. As I got older, I realized that people actually did that for a living. So I was in AmeriCorps, and that was what opened to my eyes that you could do volunteer service for a living. It just changed my perception of nonprofit work and volunteerism.

You were just recognized for being an exemplary government employee. Do government workers get a bad rap? We have so many frontline workers who are serving the public every day, and they do get a bad rap. It can be grueling and it can be frustrating.

Talk to me about your D.C. What's your favorite part about it? I went to college at Maryland, and my last year there, I was looking for a little more diversity. As a Latina, I wanted to find some connection to the Latino community, and I found that in the Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant area. I got hooked and I stayed. I love all the culture that's here.

- Alan Blinder