Janna Ryan, thrust onto the national stage when her congressman husband Paul Ryan was named the Republican vice-presidential nominee, strikes an appealing image as a stay-at-home mum raising three young children in Wisconsin. But the 43-year-old wife has been a Washington operative, hailing from a well-connected family and forging an early professional career as a congressional aide and health-care lobbyist. Friends say she is able to navigate between different worlds - from small-town Oklahoma and Wellesley College, a private women's college outside Boston she attended, to complex policy debates in Washington. "She is very comfortable in and around politics. She grew up in a political family, and it comes very naturally to her," said Leslie Belcher, a Washington lobbyist who worked on Capitol Hill with Ryan and was later one of her bridesmaids. During her first public test, Ryan appeared at ease on Saturday as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced her husband at a tightly orchestrated event in Norfolk, Virginia, with the retired battleship USS Wisconsin as the backdrop. She beamed alongside Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, both polished with blonde hair. Ryan, whose maiden name was Little, grew up in southern Oklahoma. Both of her parents were lawyers. A town in Oklahoma, Little City, is named after the family. Her family has strong Democratic connections, and largely identify with the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic lawmakers known for being fiscally conservative. Her uncle, David Boren, served as a Democratic governor of Oklahoma and later as a senator from the state. After college she worked as a legislative aide to former Oklahoma congressman Bill Brewster, who was a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition. While in that job she worked on transport and health-care issues, and attended George Washington Law School at night, earning her degree in 1998. She married Paul Ryan in 2000 and moved to his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. "They got married eyes wide open, knowing that they wanted to dedicate themselves to public service, and that meant that Janna wouldn't work, and Paul would dedicate himself" to working in Congress, said Jodi Bond, a Chamber of Commerce vice-president who has been friends with them for decades.