Sponsored: A Little Bit Beltway, A Little Bit Bayou

Paige Hensgens Hightower has the best of both worlds – a little bit Beltway and a little bit bayou. Her love for Capitol Hill and her heart for Acadiana have found a middle ground in the work she does for The Picard Group.

The Lafayette native began working for TPG in 2014 and now serves as the deputy director of association and federal affairs. The job was a welcome change after years in Washington, yet, allows her to be a part of the things she loved most in national politics.

“It began with an internship on the Hill with former Congressmen Charles Boustany and Bill Cassidy when I was studying at LSU as a mass communication major. I had never been to D.C., and a friend said, ‘Why don’t you apply for an internship on the Hill? When I graduated college, I received a call from Rep. Boustany’s chief of staff asking if I could be in their office in four days. I packed up and headed to Washington. I slept on a friend’s couch for two months and ended up working for my hometown Congressman for four years.”

During her time in D.C., Hightower worked for her boss and colleagues on the rise in party leadership, who played active roles in key pieces of legislation (both in support and in opposition).  She witnessed first-hand the passing of the Affordable Care Act, a government shutdown, and extensive trade discussions. This unique perspective taught her how a bill actually becomes a law. “It’s not exactly like what you read about in a text book,” she said with a laugh.

Hightower was first introduced to the world of politics by her father around their dinner table each evening. “My dad constantly discussed politics at supper time and got me interested,” she said. “In college, I started learning the ins and outs. Then, when I started paying taxes, I got really interested… and mildly frustrated.”

After working with Rep. Charles Boustany, and briefly for a congressman from Nevada, where she gained an invaluable perspective working with and for citizens of another state (and very different culture), she turned her eyes back down South to her hometown. “In 2014, I decided I wanted to move home. At the time, TPG was looking to expand its services and federal lobbying capabilities.  Now, we have a full service federal lobbying division which includes former Congressman Rodney Alexander and Emily Bacque Da Silva, another Lafayette-native and former staffer for Senator John Breaux,” Hightower said.

In her time with TPG, Hightower has been exposed to all levels of government.  She learned how differently Capitol Hill operates from state and local governments. “It is important for companies to have representation in Washington because it is a different ball game, independent of Baton Rouge and Lafayette,” she said. “And whether we like it or not, national policies will trickle down to local companies and the people in Louisiana communities in one way or another.  I take great pride in the unique federal insight TPG has to offer its clients.”

The federal branch of TPG has grown with a diverse list of clients, steered by a trio who cover the spectrum of experience — and much geography. “Emily and Rodney live full time in D.C., and I visit often.  I am there for all of Washington Mardi Gras, as well” Hightower said. Her satisfaction in the work she does comes from representing and serving Louisiana clients at the federal level and taking care of Louisiana’s own on a national stage. “I love it when a Louisiana company or organization expresses their satisfaction and approval of the services we provide,” she said. “That means, the people they service – local students, patients, constituents, farmers and airport passengers from our state are being taken care of.”

Hightower is eternally grateful for the opportunity TPG offers, which allows her to live in Lafayette and still work with Washington.  “I love living down here and enjoying the happy, slower pace of life and yet keeping up with the Hill. I get the best of both worlds because I’m able to be home with family and stay informed and involved, as well,” she said. “I will always have a special place in my heart for our nation’s capital and the smart, hard-working people who work there, many of whom will remain my life-long friends.

Outside of the office, Hightower loves all things Louisiana.  She enjoys a gumbo of hobbies, which ranges from cooking and eating the local flavors to attending local sporting events to enjoying the outdoors and, of course, celebrating Mardi Gras. “If not being home is a hobby, then that is ours,” she said of her and her husband who are always on the go. Who better to represent your interests up in the “swamp”?

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

My Hensgens family Thanksgiving spread is pretty spectacular. We are a rice family, so you won’t find many healthy options. But where is the fun in a healthy Thanksgiving meal anyway? My aunt’s sweet potato casserole is to die for. I haven’t yet mastered it like her, but I’m working on it...

— Boil six fresh sweet potatoes (not canned)

— Let cool, peel and layer in 9x13 baking dish with butter, light brown sugar and cinnamon (You can add pecans if desired)

— Top with marshmallows and heat in oven at 350 degrees until butter is melted and marshmallows are toasted

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