Debra Wada, who previously served as deputy staff director when Democrats held the majority, specializes in military-personnel issues, an area that can spur strong emotions.
Her work is centered on the annual defense authorization measure, and it involves meeting with outside groups, departments, and the armed services. Wada views her role as providing lawmakers with information to help them make decisions.
She noted that while military sexual assaults have attracted media attention in recent months, the committee has been focused on the issue for several years. She anticipates hearings in June and July dealing with military families and sexual-assault issues.
The Hawaii native, 50, earned a bachelor’s degree from Drake University in Iowa, and has done master’s work at American University. She arrived on the Hill in 1987, and has worked in both the House and Senate, with a brief sojourn at the National Park Service.