When Hillary Mantis went to work on Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign, shortly after her graduation from Boston College Law School, she expected it to be the start of a long career in politics.

“That was my main activity in law school and what I thought I wanted to do with my law degree,” she recalled recently. But by the time the curtain fell on Dukakis’s ill-fated race against George Bush, Mantis had concluded that the rootless existence of the political operative was not her life’s calling.