King of the Hill

Carl LoofIn July the influential Washington, DC, newspaper the Hill released its annual “50 Most Beautiful” list of striking staffers and cute congressmen. This year Chicago’s own Carl Loof, AB’08, made the cut, winning over the paper—which received more than 320 nominations—and his colleagues with his international charm and intellectual curiosity. The 25-year-old legislative aide, dubbed “The Cosmopolitan,” was born in Bogotá to a Swedish family and raised in London and Boca Raton, Florida. The rigorous reputation of the U of C attracted him to Hyde Park as a transfer student, and he graduated with a political-science degree and also studied regionalism and European Union politics at Sciences Po in Paris. And here’s the best part, ladies: if you’re smitten, you can meet Loof when he hosts the DC Phoenixphest on September 24.

QandA_QDrop.jpgHow did you find out that you were named to the Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People of 2009? What was your initial reaction?

QandA_ADrop.jpgI received a phone call to set up an interview and photo. A voice on the other end asked me if I was familiar with the “Top 50,” so I naturally assumed that the reporter meant the Maroon soccer team's unofficial mascot. The Hill has the largest circulation of any Capitol Hill publication and is a great source of political news, so to be honest with you, initially I was really very surprised, honored, and humbled by the distraction—I mean distinction—then went back to work.

QandA_QDrop.jpgWhat has the reaction been among coworkers, friends, and family?

QandA_ADrop.jpgI never knew so many people read the Hill until that article! Throughout the week, I got smiles and thumbs-up around work. I received a lot of calls, texts, and e-mails from friends, many of whom did not know I had moved to Washington, DC. People even tweeted about me. So it was a nice opportunity to connect with some friends I haven't spoken to in months. My mum is very excited to share the news with as many people as she can, and my dad thinks it is great but mostly is just glad that I have a job.

QandA_QDrop.jpgBesides impressing Capitol Hill with your dark, good looks, what does the day-to-day life of a legislative aide entail?

QandA_ADrop.jpgI don’t think people are too impressed. I handle a wide variety of legislative issues for a member of Congress, including health-care reform, education, trade, foreign policy, transportation, immigration, civil rights, and homeland security. I attend briefings, sit in on Congressional hearings, read journals/reports, and prepare memos. I [attend] meetings on behalf of the representative with groups that hope to highlight certain legislation or raise awareness about issues. I then review pertinent legislation and make recommendations. A lot of my job involves developing close relationships with colleagues in other offices and understanding others' perspectives and where there is room for cooperation. It has been a great experience.

QandA_QDrop.jpgYou have Swedish roots and have lived Florida, London, and Paris. What is it about American politics that appeals to you?

QandA_ADrop.jpgIt’s the dedication and passion. People here really care about politics and the character of elected officials on a level that I have not seen in other countries. One need only look at DC internships or campaigns to realize just how involved and engaged young Americans of all backgrounds are in their political system—so much so that they forgo an entire summer of gainful employment in order to work for free.

In America people really want you to take part in society and succeed. Americans are a far warmer and more open people than many might credit, and this transpires in our political system. Even individuals with weird backgrounds and funny names are given the opportunity to achieve greatness, but once elected, public servants are held to a very high standard of expectations.

QandA_QDrop.jpgNow that we have a U of C–affiliated president of the United States, who do you think could be the next Maroon in the White House?

QandA_ADrop.jpgAt Chicago I was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, an organization that can already count two U.S. presidents and two Supreme Court justices, including John Paul Stevens, U-High’37, AB’41. The fraternity was a big part of my decision to go into public service, and I believe it and the mentality of the University of Chicago help aspiring, young politicos understand that being a part of a community means to contribute, to respect others, and to champion the public good over glory. Among the more politically oriented gentlemen I have known is Nicholas G. Rodman, AB’09, a gifted and dedicated student patriot whose parents have both served our country with distinguished careers in public service. That said, the University does a good job of preparing many fine young men and women who take active civic leadership very seriously.

Elizabeth Chan

Photo courtesy the Hill.

August 18, 2009