Meeting Jason Baltimore
Kristen Frederick, AOC congressional liaison, sits down with Jason Baltimore, AOC’s first African American general counsel, to discuss what brought him to the Architect of the Capitol and what opportunities lie ahead for him in his new role.
Jason Baltimore (left) serving in Taji, Iraq during his 2007-2008 deployment.
AOC General Counsel Jason Baltimore is not used to wearing a suit and tie.
As an undergraduate, he suited up as a wide receiver for the Cornell University Big Red football team and also donned a uniform as a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) midshipman.
Jason continued as a man in uniform after college when he began a career in the Navy as a supply corps officer. He wore the Navy uniform while serving two deployments in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in the early ‘90s.
Accepted into the Navy Law Education Program in 1995, Jason studied at UCLA School of Law, and after completing his studies, transitioned to the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (Navy JAG Corps). He continued to proudly sport the Navy uniform during stints in southern California, Washington, D.C., Spain, and an additional deployment to Iraq (in desert camouflage), before a final transfer to D.C.
Now that Jason works among civilians as the AOC’s general counsel, he’s forced to make fashion choices he never had to consider during all of his years with the Navy.
“My wife and daughters need to approve my choice of suit, tie and shirt every day,” laughs Jason. “It’s not something I’m used to after almost 23 years in a uniform. I even had to learn how to tie a tie.”
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason to find out more about the newest member of AOC’s executive team:
What brought you to the Architect of the Capitol?
I saw the job opportunity at the AOC posted on USAJOBS.gov, and I thought it sounded like a tremendous opportunity. I enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and this seemed like a good fit for my personality.
How would you describe your style of leadership?
I like to give my staff a sense of empowerment. I try not to micromanage their work so that they have the ability to take ownership in what they do. They are certainly held accountable, but I give them the room to do what they need to do to get the job done.
I would describe myself as low-key, but I do like to have an upbeat office. I want people to enjoy coming to work and I encourage humor in the workplace.
What has been your impression of the AOC thus far?
The AOC is a remarkable group of people. It was really staggering for me to learn the amount of work that the AOC is involved in. It was very eye-opening to learn the scope of the AOC’s responsibility, and specifically the General Counsel’s office.
What challenges does the General Counsel face in the future?
Well, I’ve only been here for a short time, and right now it feels a little bit like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Like any new job, there is a bit of a learning curve, but I’m up to the challenge.
My initial goal is to promptly and efficiently take care of the needs of our client base — including the entire AOC community — as well as focus on developing the professional and personal needs of the General Counsel staff.
I see one of the main challenges for the General Counsel as how best to advise the AOC more efficiently within the current budget environment, being mindful to identify and discuss legal ramifications of any action.
What will you bring to the job as General Counsel?
I like to think that I’m a quick learner. I’m a people person that “plays well with others.” I excel at juggling a bunch of different issues at once, which is something the GC needs to do on a daily basis. And I think I bring a lot of energy and a new perspective to the job.
Read this interview and more in the Winter 2013 issue of AOC's magazine, Foundations & Perspectives.