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Reagan to serve as chief of staff for Webb


College alumnus Paul Reagan (’82) has been chosen to serve as chief of staff for newly elected Sen. James Webb (D.-Va.). Reagan, who said he had limited involvment during Webb’s campaign for office, called it a “great honor for anyone who has devoted time to public service in Virginia” to have an opportunity to serve a senator from the state.

Reagan graduated from William and Mary as a government major before earning his law degree from George Mason University. During his professional career, he served as the communications director for former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. In that position, he helped shape the governor’s messages on the budget, education and government reform. At the federal level, Reagan’s experience includes serving as chief of staff to Rep. James P. Moran (D.-Va.) and as communications director for Rep. L.F. Payne (D.-Va.), Rep. Rick Boucher (D.-Va.) and Rep. Owen Pickett (D.-Va.). At the time he was chosen to serve Webb, Reagan was working as the senior vice president for issue advocacy at McGuireWoods Consulting in Richmond.

During December, Reagan was scrambling to assemble a staff and to get offices up and running both in Washington, D.C., and in various Virginia urban centers. The position of chief of staff differs from that of communications director in that it entails more “managerial duties,” he said. “I will work not only in communications but in constituent services, as well as in the legislative and administrative parts just to make the office run smoothly.”

Anticipating his involvement in upcoming legislative matters, Reagan said the extent of his input remained to be determined by the senator.

“Sen. Webb ran a campaign in which he articulated a very clear vision on greater accountability in government, on more rational foreign policy, specifically in regard to the war in Iraq, and greater economic justice, including closing the widening gap between the rich and the poor in the United States,” Reagan said. “He will be working on those issues, so they are what I will be working on as I assist. The first prioirty is to advance the senator’s agenda.”

As a person who has served both at the state and federal levels, Reagan said the pressures are similar. “State government obviously is smaller,” he said, “but there is the same imperative to serve folks.”

Reagan maintains a strong affection for the College, which he refers to as a family school. “My mother was a graduate in 1948, and I had three older brothers who graduated from William and Mary, as well,” he said. He continues to value and support the determination to keep the school relatively small with its low student-to-teacher ratio and the personal mentoring students get from professors that smaller class sizes allow, he added.

Reagan recalled several government professors who were instrumental in encouraging him as he pursued a career in politics. “Some of them are still there,” he said. “John McGlennon, [professor of government], was a great mentor and helped me a lot. We still keep in touch. He always took a great interest in all of his students, and because his classes were small, he was able to help all of his students. In addition, he was just a great professor.”

Throughout his career in government, Reagan said he has discovered that William and Mary is extremely well-regarded. “President [Timothy J.] Sullivan did much to build that reputation up, and I think President [Gene R.] Nichol certainly is an extremely dynamic leader for the College and someone who will serve the school well, hopefully, for a very long time.”

His advice for current government majors is this: “Involvement when you’re very young is important. Certainly a lot of the relationships I made while being active in campus politics have continued through today.”

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