Karen Lightfoot, Minority Communications Director

Coral Davenport

After 25 years on Capitol Hill, Karen Lightfoot has a wealth of experience communicating complicated policy issues. Indeed, her experience began before she even got to college.

Growing up in Spain and Japan as the daughter of a Navy pilot, Lightfoot returned to the U.S. as a teenager. She spent eight years working for then-House Majority Whip Tom Foley, D-Wash., before studying humanities at Yale University and earning a master’s in public policy at Princeton.

Lightfoot worked for five years as a lobbyist for the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, focusing on low-income issues. She returned to Capitol Hill in 1997, joining Rep. Henry Waxman on his Oversight panel, where she helped him execute a series of high-profile hearings and investigations on issues like tobacco regulation and corporate oversight.

Lightfoot, 55, has been with the California Democrat ever since, following him from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to Energy and Commerce. She has served as his communications director since 2002. With her boss in the minority, Lightfoot has helped him craft messaging to keep the drumbeat going on his top priority, climate change.

When not at work, Lightfoot enjoys the rich performing-arts culture of D.C. and spends time outdoors sailing and growing vegetables in her garden.