Great Republicans September 2020
Katja Bullock, American Patriot
By Deborah Lambert
All in all, life has been good to Katja Bullock, and her lifetime of multiple career achievements is a testament to the unrelenting work ethic of someone who loves what she’s doing.
In 1965, as a 22 year old college graduate with a pharmacy degree and a deep curiosity to find out about America, she immigrated from Germany to the U.S. and planned to stay here for a year to see what the country was like.
However, it didn’t take long for a series of life-altering opportunities and good fortune to make her realize that she might have to change her plans.
While working as a pharmacy assistant in Washington, DC, she met her future husband, Dr. Albert Bullock, whose dental office was in the same building. “After three dates, he asked me to marry him and we got married that year,” she recalls. Since the doctor was also an active member of the American Light Opera Company, the story goes that Katja fell in love with him during an emergency dental procedure when she was soothed by the strains of opera while Al Bullock worked on her teeth.
Earlier this year, Katja retired from more than 40 years of serving as Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel during which she not only launched the careers of several generations of Republican job seekers, but also enjoyed the rare opportunity to observe first-hand the personalities and management style of four American presidents.
As far as presidential personnel offices are concerned, she concluded that they have a lot in common with each other. “Massive chaos during the first few months of an administration that eventually settles down into organized daily chaos. However, there was a difference in how each president viewed the personnel office,” as she explained below:
- Ronald Reagan gave us the outline of what he wanted to achieve during the Reagan Revolution, and trusted us to select the right people to make that happen.
- George H. W. Bush was focused on making the government run smoothly and did not want to make any waves – he just wanted the government to run smoothly. It was hard to recruit for that.
- George W. Bush was all hands-on in the personnel business. He knew what every department and agency did. We had to submit the resumés of potential candidates to the President the night before our meetings. He studied them and then he peppered us with questions.
- President Trump was only interested in the financial, economic and international positions.
During a recent Q and A about her career, Katja noted that the ongoing high point of her position was “being able to sit in the Oval Office to present candidates for Senate confirmation to the President and Vice President of the USA. Not bad for an immigrant. . .”
Her most formidable challenge occurred in 2002 when she accepted an assignment in Iraq as the Director of Civilian Personnel. Her efforts there helped establish the Coalition Provisional Authority government, which restarted the government for the Iraqi people.
Katja also worked on the national campaigns for Presidents Reagan in 80 and 84, Bush in 88, 92, 2000 and 2004. While her numerous achievements during her longtime (ongoing) membership on the MOCO Central Committee include running the initial MOCO campaigns for Governor Ehrlich and Governor Hogan, Katja noted that she usually prefers to work behind the scenes and let others be the heroes.
After her retirement from the presidential personnel position earlier this year, Katja mentioned that while she won’t miss getting up at 5:30 am and commuting downtown, she hopes to continue making herself useful for the party.
On occasion, she also recalls a situation more than 30 years ago when her oldest brother, who claimed to be the family boss, came to the U.S. from Germany to visit her after her husband died and also to tell her that her American escapade was over, and she should return to Germany.
Not surprisingly, Katja responded by telling him that “my life is in this country – America has been so good to me – I would never leave.”
Deborah Lambert is a Member of the Republican Central Committee of Montgomery County and Editor of this MCGOP Newsletter.