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Power and big bucks often lure ambitious professionals to either the nation’s political or technology capital. Since 1996, Anita Wallgren has felt the mystical pull of both worlds, hopscotching from Washington, D.C., to Silicon Valley, and now back to D.C. Wallgren, 48, recently joined the D.C. office of Chicago-based Sidley Austin Brown & Wood as of counsel. Between 1998 and 2001 she served as vice president of business affairs at Geocast Network Systems, Inc., in Menlo Park, California. Geocast offers a high-speed broadband network that distributes video to PC users. Before that, she worked for the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. “The culture shock could not have been more profound,” she says about her move from the FCC to Geocast. “The average age at Geocast was 31. That’s considerably younger than people in Washington. There was a very high energy level, passions ran deep-and it was a great adventure.” Before venturing west to the land of Internet start-ups and venture capital in 1998, the University of Michigan law school graduate led a relatively staid though influential existence at the FCC. She previously held positions at Sony Worldwide Networks and Great American Broadcasting Co. At the FCC, she advised commissioner Susan Ness, a Clinton appointee, on a range of telecommunications issues. Wallgren’s successor at the FCC, Mark Schneider, previously a partner at Sidley & Austin, went on to become the FCC’s associate general counsel. In January he returned to the firm and convinced Wallgren to join him. Back in the political nexus, Wallgren remains levelheaded about her clout. “I would not be at Sidley at all if it were not for Mark,” she says about her first run at a law firm. “It’s still like coming home in a way, and I’m very happy to be back in Washington.”

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