(Senate - July 14, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 114 (Thursday, July 14, 2016)]
[Pages S5139-S5140]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       TRIBUTE TO CHRISTINA MULKA

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, today, I want to say a few words about one 
of my most loyal and reliable aides, Christina Mulka. For nearly a 
decade, Christina worked in my office, most notably as press secretary 
and deputy communications director. Later this month, Christina will be 
moving to Detroit. To say we are going to miss her would be a gross 
understatement. If you ask my staff, they will tell you they don't 
refer to their friend and colleague by her first name. Everyone calls 
her ``Mulka.'' There are a lot of Christinas on Capitol Hill, but only 
one Mulka.
  Like many bright young people in Washington, DC, Christina began her 
career as an intern. In the spring of 2006, I got a call from former 
Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate--turned 
college professor--Michael Dukakis. He told me about a student named 
Christina Mulka at Northeastern University who needed a 6-month 
internship as part of her co-op program. Internships in my office are 
never 6 months, but he insisted I give her a chance; and he told me if 
I did, I wouldn't regret it. Well, 10 years later, he was right.
  Not long after Christina's internship ended, I had an opening in my 
office for a press secretary. Christina was back at Northeastern 
settling into life as a student. Now, just as internships in my office 
are never 6 months, press secretaries in my office almost always have a 
college degree. But just as we did before, we made an exception for 
Christina--and I hired her before she graduated. She moved back to 
Washington, DC, and completed her degree while earning a paycheck from 
the U.S. Senate. It was the second time I made an exception for 
Christina Mulka. And let me tell you, she didn't disappoint.
  For years, Christina served as my on-the-record spokesperson for 
Illinois media inquiries. Simply put, she had an extraordinary knack 
for dealing with Illinois reporters. Whenever I wrote an editorial, I 
could always count on Christina to work diligently to find a newspaper 
to print it. As many Senate press staffers will tell you, this is no 
small task. Despite working in Washington, DC, she maintained close 
connections with Illinois reporters. Every reporter and news outlet 
felt valued and in the loop because Christina valued everyone. That is 
who she is. She treated them all the same, big or small. Whether it was 
Chicago or Springfield, Quincy or Belleville, Carbondale or Mattoon, 
she truly cared that news outlets throughout Illinois were informed 
about what was happening in Washington, DC.
  Christina worked well with my policy staff to understand the issues. 
She was always well prepared to promote my priorities, agenda, and 
ideas to help the people of Illinois. I had such confidence in her 
that, over time, her portfolio expanded to include many issues that I 
would list as my top priorities, including tobacco, dietary 
supplements, for-profit colleges, and the Marketplace Fairness Act.
  Let me tell you a story about one of my first memories of Christina. 
She was staffing me during a round of Illinois TV interviews here in 
Washington, DC. Opening Day was right around the corner, and a lot of 
questions were about baseball, specifically the Chicago Cubs. When the 
interviews were over, she turned to me and apologized for not

[[Page S5140]]

prepping me better on the Chicago White Sox. I didn't know it at the 
time, but Christina is a White Sox fanatic. And during the interviews, 
she wanted me to steer the conversation away from the Cubs to her team, 
the Chicago White Sox--what a loyal fan.
  Christina hails from Lisle, IL, but her family roots go back to the 
south side of Chicago, in a neighborhood known as the Back of the 
Yards--which explains her fierce loyalty to the White Sox. Sports have 
always played an important role in Christina's life. At Northeastern, 
she cocaptained the rowing squad and was chosen as the National Scholar 
Athlete by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. A dean's list 
honoree and honors program participant, Christina also was a finalist 
for the Walter Byers Scholarship, the NCAA's highest academic award, 
recognizing student athletes who promise to be future leaders. Boy, did 
they get it right. Whatever the next chapter holds for Christina, she 
will be a leader.
  Following Christina's promotion to deputy communications director, I 
saw her leadership skills flourish. She became a role model and mentor 
to junior press staff, allowing them to develop professionally just as 
she had done over the years. It was a pleasure to watch her energy, 
motivation, and spirit of service rub off on so many others.
  In 2013, Christina took on another challenge, enrolling in Georgetown 
University's master in business administration program. For many, this 
would distract from their day job, but not Christina. It wasn't 
uncommon for her to work a full day, go to class for 2 to 3 hours, and 
be back in the office at 10 p.m., ensuring that nothing was missed. 
Despite the long hours, juggling work and school, she never missed a 
  Now, Christina is off to pursue a new adventure. She found herself a 
great partner in Brad Carroll. Their wedding is in a few months. They 
are moving back to the Midwest--Detroit will be their new home--closer 
to her family in the suburbs of Chicago. And I want to thank the whole 
Mulka family for sharing Christina with our office for the last 10 
years--her parents, Diana and Tom, and her younger sister and brother, 
Stephanie and Nick.
  Christina joined this office with a high school diploma, and she is 
leaving after many years of serving the people of Illinois with a 
college degree, a graduate degree, and many friends and colleagues who 
will miss her. I couldn't be happier for her as she moves on to the 
next chapter in her life with Brad.
  I will close with this: While at Northeastern, Christina developed 
her interest in public service with the help of Michael Dukakis. 
Recently, at a Northeastern Capitol Hill alumni event, Christina ran 
into her old mentor. She told him about her engagement and upcoming 
move to Detroit. His face lit up, and he immediately encouraged her to 
run for mayor. I am not surprised. To know Christina Mulka is to expect 
big things from her. I am proud of the work she has done and will do, 
but more importantly, I am proud of the person she has become. 
Congratulations on a job well done, and best of luck.
  (At the request of Mr. Reid, the following statement was ordered to 
be printed in the Record.)