I remember Mrs. Rittenbaum of Ellis Elementary School in Denver very well. She had a reading contest, which fit my competitive nature. And she also took us on trips around the world - without leaving the classroom. She would set up our chairs as if we were on an airplane, and then on the "flight" she would teach us about the country we were going to visit - the language the people spoke, the cultural highlights, and any famous historical references. When we arrived at the destination, we would have food from that country to sample. One of the trips we took was to Madagascar. I was fascinated thinking about how that country used to be a physical part of Africa. Later in school when we studied plate tectonics, I always remembered that day. It was also the first time I ever had a pomegranate. I went home and told my mom I wanted a pomegranate. She was from Rawlins, WY and had never bought one. She went to several stores to find one - then when my sister and I tried to eat it and made a mess, I think she probably wished Mrs. Rittenbaum had never taken us to Madagascar.
3. If you could be paid to do anything besides your current job, what would it be?
I've wondered about putting together my communications and management skills along with my love of helping private sector and charitable efforts in Africa; I'm not frugal, but I'm a good money manager and love to think three steps ahead to make programs work better. I didn't go to business school, but I'm a big believer in ROI - return on investment, and there is a lot that could be done on the ground through coordinating well intentioned efforts.
4. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
When I went with Mrs. Laura Bush on her book tour, we went to the Oprah show. Everyone was so friendly and genuinely happy to see her. I said, "This must be what it feels like to be Robert Gibbs, working for a wildly popular politician!"
5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
Justified. It is a fantastic program. One of my favorite themes from the show is that with U.S. Deputy Marshall Raylen Givens in charge, actions have consequences. When he smokes someone after giving them a warning, he's justified. Old school. Love it.
6. What’s the best present you ever received as a child?
A pony named Sally. My grandfather purchased her for me when I was born and she lived at his ranch for years.
7. Who would be on the perfect "Red Eye" panel?
Anyone but Greg Gutfeld. HA! Funny thing about “Red Eye” - since I usually go to bed before 10 p.m., I had never seen “Red Eye.” And I had only once met Greg in passing. He and I didn't get to know each other until “The Five” taped its pilot in June 2011. Now he's the brother I never wanted. There is a whole bunch of smarts put into “Red Eye” - everyone is terrific.
8. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
When I was about 8 years old, my parents got me a yellow tshirt with black lettering that said in all caps: ANYTHING BOYS CAN DO GIRLS CAN DO BETTER. I don't believe that now, but at the time, it gave me a bit of confidence at a time when girls start feeling like they aren't as good at math/science/sports as the boys. I must have loved that shirt because in our family photo albums, I wear it multiple summers, even when it got all faded.
9. If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2012 what would they be?
GOP: “Home” by my favorite country star, Dierks Bentley
Dems: “Bait a Hook” by Justin Moore
10. What books are on your reading list?
Bed by David Whitehouse
The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart
11. What would you like tomorrow's headline to say?
Record number of unemployed find excellent and secure jobs.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to be enter the political arena.
In third grade my dad started a tradition with me where I had to read the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post before he got home from work. I had to pick out two articles to discuss before dinner. That's the moment I point to when I think of my interest in public affairs and journalism; I always thought I would be on the journalism side, but that changed after graduate school when I got a chance to work for the late Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-CO).
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