March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the month we’ll be profiling D.C. based women you should know. Amy Morse, the founder of Ideas Club, is heading the project. Today she profiles Pia Carusone. -ed.
Pia doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Eleanor Roosevelt’s prescient character test, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water,” is a telling description of Pia’s career and mettle. Over the past decade, she has broken gender barriers in nearly every industry. Pia has taken on the grind of campaign life, worked on Capitol Hill (as the youngest female chief of staff), joined the Obama Administration, and started a new organization to address one of the most polarizing issues in American public life – gun control. In a few weeks, Pia will open D.C.’s first female-led bourbon distillery, Republic Restoratives.
Pia has suffered deep personal losses to gun violence, including her beloved colleague and nearly her boss and mentor, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. After the shooting and months of surgery and rehabilitation, Gabby chose to attend the State of the Union Address before resigning her elected position. When Pia escorted Gabby through the State of the Union Address in 2012, Pia’s solemn facial expression allowed us access to what was a heart-wrenching personal experience with violence and the resilience to recover. In the aftermath and treatment process, Pia shuttled between Arizona, D.C. and Texas as Gabby went through rehabilitation. After the mass shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, Pia stepped up to direct Gabby and Mark’s Americans for Responsible Solutions, promoting bipartisan gun control policies through online, grassroots, and media campaigning.
Pia has provided leadership with intuitive emotional intelligence. She maintains a solid network of friends and colleagues in the many places around the country where she has organized political efforts. She has given hundreds of TV, radio, and print interviews. In a nod the community where it resides and Gallaudet University, the logo for her new distillery is the sign language image for the letter “R.” Pia understands through her grassroots organizing that local issues matter. It is no surprise that she was recently named one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch.”
Woman She Admires
Ann Richards, the former Governor of Texas. Ann Richards was a progressive Democrat in a state not known for its liberalism. In politics, women can’t just be tough – especially in her generation. Ann Richards had the perfect mix of grace, humor, and grit that allowed her to get a ton accomplished and win friends among unlikely allies.