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This week, we spoke to Andrew Rezendes, Associate Director of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at Farm Credit Administration. 

Can you tell me about your career path that has led you to where you are now? 

It all happened by circumstance. I went to Catholic University, then Catholic University Law. Took the bar, struggled for work. I landed a job out in Baltimore from a law firm I had interviewed with a year prior. Then I moved down to the DC area and spent 10 or 11 years in insurance defense litigation. As all things, my wife had lunch with a former roommate who had a connection on the Hill and then I started as Counsel on the Oversight and Government Reform committee in 2014. After the Chair left, many had to find new jobs, so I did all the coffees, meetings, and spreadsheets thing to keep track – Leadership Connect would’ve been super helpful back then. I was hired as Investigative Counsel under Senator Pat Roberts and that’s where I was really taken under the wing and learned. Trump came into office, and I switched to a policy focus to work on the new farm bill – I had no background in farming, it was a learning experience. Senator John Boozman was taking over for Republicans, and I got to work under him – I feel very fortunate to have worked with two wonderful people, just genuinely nice people. I handled the nominations portfolios for Republicans and worked on a range of policy issues from agriculture to cryptocurrency. After about 9 years on the Hill, just wanted a change and was in contact with FCA through the Oversight Counsel, and now here I am – only been here as of October 2023. 

Which specific policy area or legislative issues are you most passionate about, and how do you stay informed and engaged in those areas? 

I’ve always been a policy person, you know just general policy, I’ve worked on so many issues – had to look at everything, needed to read every resource and got into rural America farming policy. Looked at trading commission issues, crypto, climate change, pesticides, so it’s hard to say one. Agriculture splits in so many ways. There are different livewires across the government you know, but right now I’m focused on credit in rural America. 

What do you believe sets the federal government apart as a unique work environment, and how do you navigate its challenges in your everyday work? 

The cross-reference of people is the biggest benefit – I’m working with young folks all the time across the country, from Denver to Jersey City. Everyone puts aside their own political walks in life to work together for the mission – it’s incredible, and something I enjoy. Senator Roberts always said, “It’s not the best possible bill, but the best bill possible,” and you know that’s the truth. I came into this current office following two folks who had been there for approximately 15 years – one Democrat and one Republican who had a great dynamic. They moved on and my new boss wanted to recreate that dynamic to get things done. 

Describe a challenging or rewarding project that significantly influenced your growth as a professional. How did you handle the challenge, and what did you learn from the experience? 

The nominations portfolio – it was a very rewarding experience, meeting the individuals on both sides of the aisle. Getting to know them, you know really getting to know them and help them in that process. It was so nice because you were forced to know everyone. A challenge was the 2018 farm bill – the process started in 2017 and didn’t get done until the end of 2018. Big learning curve. I had to learn how to draft legislation, learn how to negotiate, and the conference process. The House passed, we passed, and then they had to come together. It was just massive lifts to get people in the same room. It made me really admire the clerks and people behind the paperwork – they are phenomenal.  

What has made you successful in your role and what advice would you give to individuals who aspire to work in the Federal Government? 

Never think that you’re the smartest person in the room – there are a lot of smart people. Treat everyone with respect and kindness because you never know what’s going to happen. I’ve seen the intern that comes in the door hold multiple roles, might start as an LA then move up to become your boss. So always take the meetings and get to know different people. 

Word Association, what is the first word that comes to mind for each of there? 

  1. Policy – Agriculture 
  2. Networking – Vital 
  3. Writing Skills – Constant 
  4. Federal Government – Unique 
  5. Leadership Connect – Oh can I use two? Fantastic tool. 
Anna Stueve

Business Development Representative