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Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2001

s children take positions in White House

July 4, 2001

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The White House announced Tuesday that Catharine Ryun, 25, will be office administrator for the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.

She told the Journal-World she's actually been working at the White House since February, but the announcement of her new job took awhile.

"I tell you it's exciting," Catharine Ryun said. "Every day is a new day and it's very, very busy. We have a lot of challenges every day and they're good. It's just an honor to serve our country and our president in this capacity, and I'm blessed to be here."

So is her brother Ned.

Ned, a 28-year-old Kansas University graduate, writes letters for the president. He said he's one of five letter writers in the Office of Correspondence and Presidential Messages.

"I've been here about five weeks," he said. "I was over at the Pentagon, Air Force public affairs."

Outgoing mail

Ned Ryun said he graduated from KU in May 2000 with English and history degrees. By fall, he was working for Texas Rep. Tom DeLay's political action committee.

Now, he likes working at the White House.

"It's a good experience," he said. "It's a nice adventure. I'll look back on it in the future and be very glad I did it. I consider it an honor, I really do, to work for this president."

Ned said he doesn't really get a good feel for public reaction to the Bush administration, because another White House department handles the incoming mail.

"Mail analysis deals with that more than we do," he said. "Say somebody is having a convention and would like a greeting from the president. We send a response, greetings, things like that."

A typical day in the correspondence office is something like this, Ned said:

"We get in. We figure out how many messages for the day, four or five for the day. Then the letters go through the editing process, then rewrite, then send it on to support and they'll do the typesetting and send it out. Doing the draft includes doing the research. It's good. It can be very interesting."

Family tradition

Catharine Ryun, who attended Washburn University in Topeka for a year but didn't graduate, also had some political experience before landing her job in the Faith Based office. She said she's worked in all her father's campaigns. He's a Republican who represents Kansas' 2nd District, which includes the northwest corner of Douglas County. Home address for the congressman is in rural Jefferson County near Lawrence.

"I worked on the Bush campaign, worked on the inaugural committee, ..." Catharine Ryun said. She also worked as an aide to Oklahoma Congressman Steve Largent.

She worked on the Bush campaign in Columbia, Mo.

"I was a social conservative coordinator," she said. "So, I did a lot of grass-roots coordinating with churches and other conservative groups getting them mobilized and getting them out to vote."

In her new job:

"I'm not really involved with the policy side of the office," she said. "I'm handling administrative duties such as volunteer coordinator, intern coordinator, the day-to-day process of running an office, setting up meetings, setting up faith-based briefings when people come to the White House."

Catharine Ryun said she didn't want to disclose her salary.

"I'd prefer not to," she said.

The White House press office said they could provide the Journal-World salary information on the two young Ryuns. But it would take until after the July Fourth holiday to come up with it.

Ned Ryun's twin brother, Drew, also a KU graduate, is running Rep. Ryun's political action committee, Catharine said.

"It's a wonderful time in our lives to all be here serving our country," Catharine said. "I love my two brothers. We spend a lot of time together. It's a neat time in our lives."

Her older sister, Heather Ryun Tiffany, 31, is living in Alaska with her husband and children. Heather's husband is in the Air Force there, Catharine said.

-- City Editor Mike Shields can be reached at 832-7154.

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