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White House's Second Sister : Dee Dee Myers' Older Sibling to Join Clinton Administration

August 19, 1993|JONATHAN GAW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sisterhood is powerful.

In the case of the Myers sisters, the feminist slogan takes on a literal ring. Older sister Betsy Myers is following younger sister Dee Dee Myers--the White House press secretary--to an executive job in the Clinton Administration.

That's despite the warning that Dee Dee Myers delivered in a sisterly chat this week as they sat in the yard of their parents' home in Santa Clarita.

"It's an unforgiving town," the younger sister said. "There's no margin for error, there's no tolerance for trying to do things differently, trying to make changes."

But Betsy Myers, who won a presidential appointment to head the Office of Women's Business Ownership under the Small Business Administration, remains undaunted.

"Any time you leap outside of yourself and take on a new challenge is a growth opportunity," said Betsy Myers, 32, who is a year and a day older than her sister. "Any time I can help someone else out, then I'm growing as a person."

In light of the suicide last month of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, who left a ripped-up note that said "here, ruining people is considered sport," the elder Myers said she doesn't plan to get mixed up in "the politics of politics" that permeates the soul of the city.

"I'm not really that worried about it," she said.

Her job will be to help female entrepreneurs gain greater access to capital and networking, and to publicize the technical, financial and management resources available to them through her office and the Small Business Administration.

She hopes to increase the slice--1% she said--of the multibillion-dollar government contracting pie that goes to businesses owned by women.

"Women are just now beginning to form networks, whereas men have always done that through the Old Boys Network," Betsy Myers said.

She started her own insurance and financial services firm in Santa Clarita in 1987, specializing in employee benefits, retirement and estate planning, and 60% of her clients are businesses owned by women. She has also held offices in the National Assn. of Women Business Owners.

Before that, she worked for a political consulting and fund-raising firm whose clients included former Mayor Tom Bradley and state Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), both former bosses of her younger sister.

If Betsy Myers heads to Washington with any degree of trepidation, she says, it's because she has to leave her business, to which she plans to return after her stint in public service.

Dee Dee Myers at times wonders why her sister is following her East.

"She has a husband, a home, a business . . . a life here," the younger, unmarried Myers said.

Washington is a company town in every sense of the word, Myers said, and "I miss a diverse life. . . . Washington is work-obsessed."

Even on a four-day vacation to visit her parents, her longest such stay since Clinton took office, she accommodated an interview this week in between water-skiing, trips to the beach and roller-skating.

"You have to be careful there," Dee Dee Myers cautioned those who, like her sister, venture to make a life in the capital.

"It's not like Los Angeles. They don't have as much of a sense of humor there."

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