WGR Featured Member: Dena Kozanas

Dena Kozanas
Deputy Chief of Staff/Counsel, Rep. Candice Miller/Committee on Homeland Security

Favorite DC Restaurant: Tuscana West was my go-to restaurant for many years.  But, now that it has closed, the next best restaurant for a good Mediterranean meal is Taverna Cretekou in Old Town Alexandria.
Hometown: Wildwood Crest, NJ
Fun Fact: My first words were in Greek.  I’m still fluent today.
About Dena: I moved to the DC Metro area about 17 years ago after my first Congressional internship with my hometown Congressman in South Jersey.  That experience gave me the political bug and the desire to always work on behalf of something bigger than myself.  I’ve worked in and around Capitol Hill, as well as with local, state, federal and national campaigns, ever since.  In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my husband, volunteering with two Northern Virginia children’s and animal welfare organizations, and teaching our 5-year-old beagle, Ollie, new tricks.

What attracted you to WGR and how has it helped you personally & professionally? 
When most people think of “networking” in DC, they general refer to going to a happy hour and asking what someone does and exchanging business cards.  I was attracted to WGR because its networking opportunities are more than that; they are more personal and encourage the building of actual relationships – both professional and personal.  Also, WGR provides its members with leadership opportunities where they can hone the skills they already possess but in a different, non-work environment. As the newly appointed co-chair of the Homeland Security & Defense Task Force, I am grateful for that aspect of the organization.

What advice do you have for young women entering the field?
The best advice I can give any young woman entering the government relations field is to find a mentor – female mentor – early on in your career.  This should come organically from either a woman who is in your workplace or a woman who you meet in a different capacity of your life.  This relationship doesn’t necessarily need an official “mentor/mentee” designation. What is important is that you have someone willing to guide you every step of the way, and someone who is willing to be brutally honest with you about the career choices you make.

What is your favorite part of your day or job?
Working on Capitol Hill can be rewarding and challenging at the same time.  The best part of the job is that every day is different and exciting.  You may come in to work one day thinking you will be working on one issue but then current events dictate otherwise and your focus shifts elsewhere.  It truly is a place where you learn to be adaptable to changing circumstances and situations, which is a great skill to have in other aspects of your life too.

What inspires you?
As the daughter of immigrants who have lived the American dream, I am constantly inspired by their story of coming to America and making something of themselves from nothing.  Their story, and the story of so many others, reveals the courage to move to an unfamiliar land, to try something different, and to make a life for themselves and their family.  Knowing about my parents boldness so many years ago helps me in making any difficult career decisions now, because the important part of having a fulfilling career is always growing and trying new things.

Connect with Dena
 

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