Tennessee alumna serving as White House deputy director

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Shuwanza Goff, left, speaks with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md., as they walk to a Closed Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Goff is the first African-American woman to serve as floor director in Hoyer’s office. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – One year after becoming the first African American woman to direct action on the U.S. House of Representative’s floor, University of Tennessee alumna Shuwanza Goff is continuing to blaze a trail as a deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.

The Office of Legislative Affairs works to develop and implement strategies to advance legislative priorities in Congress. A 2006 political science graduate of the University of Tennessee, Goff will also serve as a liaison to the House of Representatives.

“She has a characteristic that I call the legislative temperament,” said UT political science professor Mike Fitzgerald to new.utk.edu.

“This is the ability in people in public affairs to take the very patient long view and negotiate differences in order to accomplish the work. This would explain her success in the House of Representatives.”

“She can bridge differences and be very patient about it, in large part due to her patient determination to attain a mutually beneficial result. That’s what you need in a White House legislative director.”

Working in the office of Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) since 2008, Goff began as a staff assistant and worked her way up to floor director for legislative operations last year for the House Majority leader. A role which UT political science professor Richard Pacelle called possibly “the single most important unelected official in Congress.”

After her family moved from New York City to Mechanicsville, Virginia, in 1995, Goff said a speaker in her sophomore English class first drew her interest to Tennessee.

“She spoke about UT with such high regard and excitement that it piqued my interest in the university,” Goff said. “From there I went to a visit, fell in love with the orange T, and the rest is history.”

Goff told new.utk.edu she is focusing on the COVID-19 relief legislation in her new role in President Joe Biden’s legislative affairs office.

“It’s great to be the first,” she said in a January 2021 “Roll Call” interview. “But really, the responsibility is to ensure that we’re not the last.”

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