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Jess Banotai

Photo of Jess Banotai

Finance Director, Charlie Dent for Congress

What are your best memories from Semester in Washington? What parts of the program did you enjoy the most?  

“What I enjoyed most about the Semester in Washington were the networking events.  The tour of the top floor of the State Department was my favorite; it was the most incredible space with unbelievable artifacts.”

Where did you intern during SIWP? What was that experience like? How did it help you get where you are today? 

“I did my internship at the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).  It was a finance focused internship that centered on fundraising.  I had the opportunity to attend events for state candidates specifically for State Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor races. It was at this internship that I had the honor of meeting with and speaking to Senator John McCain. This was my first experience fundraising and it certainly played a role in obtaining the position I now hold as Finance Director for Congressman Charlie Dent’s campaign committee.”

Please describe your professional history. How has your SIWP experience helped you along the way? 

“I graduated from Kutztown University in May 2012.  I took an internship immediately after graduation at Congressman Charlie Dent’s legislative office in Allentown, PA.  After that I accepted a position in Senator Pat Toomey’s legislative office, also located in Allentown as a constituent advocate.  I worked for Senator Toomey for about a year and a half before accepting my current position as Finance Director for Congressman Dent’s campaign. My SIWP experience was invaluable in preparing me for my career. During SIWP I learned the basics of a campaign and my internship exposed me to fundraising.”

Please describe your current position. What is a day in your work life like?

“I am currently the Finance Director and Chief Financial Officer for the Charlie Dent for Congress Campaign Committee. I am responsible for all financial aspects of the congressional campaign for U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15).  I direct all non-political action committee (PAC) fundraising, oversee PAC fundraising, and coordinate the Congressman’s leadership PAC, DENT PAC, as well as National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) efforts.  I review all financial report filings and assist the campaign manager with other responsibilities.  A typical day consists of recording and depositing incoming contributions, coordinating fundraisers, preparing call lists and following up with donors.  However, every single day is different which is what I love most about this job.”

How has SIWP helped you over the course of your career? Are there lessons you learned in class/the practicum/your internship that you still use? 

“The networking has influenced the course of my career most.  I have maintained contacts made during SIWP that I value greatly.”

Anything else interesting? Any words of wisdom for prospective or current students?

“Like anything, you get exactly what you put into it.  The political atmosphere is volatile but if you work hard and never give up you will be successful. Things don’t happen to you, you have to make them happen. Be persistent.”