Kristen Silverberg has seen it all.
She was one of the wide-eyed conservatives who trekked to Austin in 2000 to get the George W. Bush for President train rolling. The former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was in the White House policy shop in the pre-9/11 days helping to dream up a health care plan, big tax cuts and "compassionate conservative" policies.
In 2003, she shipped out to Baghdad to advise L. Paul Bremer on the creation of an elected Iraqi government. Then it was back to the White House to help develop Bush's second-term agenda. She went to work for Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, the president's two most powerful aides, on domestic, economic and foreign affairs.
"She's as bright and capable as anybody in her generation," budget director Joshua B. Bolten said.
Now, Silverberg, 34, is part of the exodus of powerful White House women to Foggy Bottom. The recently confirmed assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs joins some of her closest friends and mentors in a place where, one official jokes, "girl power" rules.
One of Silverberg's chief missions: to help the United States prevail in the campaign against terrorism, in part by repairing the nation's image around the world. She will work alongside Karen P. Hughes, Bush's former image guru now in charge of public diplomacy, and Dina Powell, the former chief of presidential personnel now overseeing outreach to the Middle East.
Silverberg, however, will focus much more on policy than diplomacy. This week, for instance, she and Hughes meet with officials from the United Nations World Food Program. Silverberg will be monitoring its effectiveness while Hughes considers ways to use the program to show America's generosity to those in the Middle East.
"Having worked closely with Kristen for the past five years, I can tell you that she is an amazing talent -- and an even better person," Powell said. "She is one the great policy experts in this administration and a trusted adviser to the president. Her experience and relationships in the West Wing will be a tremendous asset to Secretary Rice at the State Department."
It was a hard decision to leave the powerful confines of the West Wing, but Silverberg said the chance to figure in the fight against terrorism was irresistible. "The most important thing this administration can get done is make progress in the war on terror," she said. "I wanted to make sure I spent all of my time doing whatever I could on those issues."
-- Jim VandeHei