Kristin F. Jones (left), Victoria L. Gruber

Kristin F. Jones (left), Chief of staff to House Speaker Michael E. Busch; Victoria L. Gruber, Chief of staff (right) to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun photo / June 26, 2013)

House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller have held on to their respective jobs longer than anyone in Maryland history, but they haven't done it alone. Both are known for top-notch staffs led by politically savvy, resilient women with a gift for smoothing relations between their strong-willed bosses.

The importance of Kristin F. Jones and Victoria L. Gruber to the workings of the General Assembly has long been well-known to Annapolis insiders. Gruber has held her job with Miller for seven years; Jones has been on Busch's team for 11-plus years.

Kristin F. Jones:

What was the hardest lesson you've learned so far?
You can't always win. For all of the best strategy and policy, at the end of the day there are a lot of personalities and a lot in play, and sometimes it doesn't work out the way you want it to.

What's a fact about yourself that will surprise people?
Episcopalian, but spent a couple months in an Israeli kibbutz while in college. "It was not an Episcopalian kibbutz."

What do you do to relax?
"Going to the gym."

Your (other) dream job would be ...
"It would have to do something with being outside. It would have something to do with gardening."

What's on your playlist?
Everything from jazz to Jay-Z.

What is your favorite book?
"To Kill a Mockingbird."

What's your favorite vacation destination?
The Caribbean island of Anguilla; hoping to go to Italy.


Victoria L. Gruber:

What was the hardest lesson you've learned so far?
"I'm constantly having ideas, things to do, types of bills I think would be good. ... There are times when it's just better to move forward and not have these big ideas."

What's a fact about yourself that will surprise people?
"I was once an elected official" -- student government president at the University of Maryland, College Park.

What do you do to relax?
"I exercise a lot -- four days a week, religiously, even during session. It's a release of what stresses you here."

Your (other) dream job would be ...
"I have invention ideas. I come up with some good inventions. ... Maybe I'll be an inventor next."

What's on your playlist?
Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, 1980s pop, Broadway musicals

What is your favorite book?
"The Lord of the Rings."

What's your favorite vacation destination?
Runaway Bay, Jamaica