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PoliticsPA’s Chiefs of Staff Spotlight: Sharon Werner

At PoliticsPA, we love staffers as much as elected officials. That’s why we’re bringing you the second installment in our newest feature, Chief of Staff Spotlight. Each week, we’ll introduce you to one of the people who make the PA delegation possible.

We’ve chosen at random, and this week we present Sharon Werner, Chief of Staff for Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny).


What’s your name?

Sharon Werner

Who is your boss?

Congressman Jason Altmire

What is your birthday?

November 8

Where did you grow up?

State College, PA

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Penn State – BA, American Studies; BA, Media Studies

Stanford Law School – JD


What was your first political job?

In the fall of 2004, I had a couple months off between legal jobs and decided to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in Pittsburgh.  About one week in, they hired me on full time.

What was your biggest break in politics?

Working for Congressman Altmire’s first campaign in 2006.  It was a small staff and we each had a big role in the operation.

How long have you worked with your boss?

Almost five years.

What was your position when you first started in the office?

Chief of Staff

What’s the worst job outside of politics you have ever had?

I’ve been pretty lucky in the job department.  I’ve never had one that I’d describe as particularly bad.  I suppose cleaning toilets as a summer lifeguard in State College wasn’t a highlight, but you really can’t beat a gig as a lifeguard.


What has been your proudest single accomplishment/achievement since working on Capitol Hill?

Playing a small part in the rescue of two of our constituents and the 54 orphans in their care from earthquake-ravaged Haiti.  It was a truly inspiring experience.

What is your favorite PA sports team?

Hands down, Penn State women’s swim team.  But if you’re looking for professional, I’d have to go with the Steelers.

Where and what do you eat lunch on most days?

If I can get some time outside Cannon, there’s a good chance I’ll wind up at Sweetgreen (a DC salad place).

Favorite “political” movie?

Does the Sound of Music count?  There were definitely political overtones.

Blackberry or I-Phone?

Blackberry (though I did just get an iPad)

What political figure do you most admire (excluding your boss), and a sentence or two why?

I most admire Eleanor Roosevelt who elevated the role not only of the First Lady, but of women politicians everywhere and left a lasting legacy on the women’s rights and civil rights movements.

What makes a Chief of Staff “good” and why?

You have to able to keep a level head at all times.  Issues arise in a congressional office at the drop of a hat, and a good Chief of Staff has the ability to juggle competing, time-consuming tasks, while managing the expectations of her boss and the needs of her staff.  Of course, all of this must be done with an eye toward what’s best for the district.  We work in close quarters so fostering a collegial work environment is essential to succeeding as a Chief of Staff.  I can’t do my job – and my boss can’t do his – if our staff isn’t as engaged and committed as we are.

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