Michelle Ash, Minority Chief Consumer Protection Counsel

Catherine Hollander and Brian Fung

A Pittsburgh native, Michelle Ash, 45, had originally planned to go into law. But after a year at a local law firm, she decided on the world of policy instead.

Rather than move to her state’s capital, Harrisburg, which draws many young people, Ash chose a different path. “I decided D.C. was a better idea,” she said.

The University of Michigan graduate signed on with then-Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Ash’s portfolio at the time included experience in foreign affairs, the judiciary, Social Security, and congressional ethics.

Ash went on to work with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., in 1998, and came to the Energy and Commerce Committee when Waxman became chairman in 2009.

She now serves as the Democrats’ chief consumer-protection counsel, immersed in such issues as product safety, drug competition, data protection, and privacy.