02.09.15

Chairman Roberts Announces More New Hires for Senate Agriculture Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today announced additional staff selections.

“I am proud to add people with experience in farming, ranching and agriculture policymaking to the staff,” Roberts said. “Our team is now complete and we look forward to our first hearing at the end of the month.”

Chairman Roberts will add the following individuals to the Agriculture Committee staff:

Maddy Connor, Staff Assistant/Legislative Correspondent: Maddy Connor joins the Senate Agriculture Committee after interning for a major public relations firm. She is a recent graduate of Christopher Newport University where she earned a bachelor's degree in communications and minor in biology. Maddy’s parents are from Overland Park, Kansas, where much of her extended family still lives.  

Matt Erickson, Chief Economist: Matt Erickson most recently worked as an Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation for over 4 years. At American Farm Bureau, Matt specialized in analyzing domestic policy issues ranging from big data, budget and Farm Bill policy, with a focus in energy markets. Matt also served in USDA’s Rural Development office during the Bush Administration and worked as a consultant with Elanco Animal Health where he worked with the President of Elanco to further enhance the important message of food, technology and choice in the 21st century. In addition, Matt has had agricultural policy experiences at the White House National Economic Council during the Bush Administration and with former Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana. Erickson was born and raised on his family’s farm of five generations in Brookston, Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics.

Anne Hazlett, Chief Counsel: Anne Hazlett has served as Republican Chief Counsel on the Senate Agriculture Committee since 2009. Prior to serving in this role, Anne was appointed as the Director of Agriculture for her home state of Indiana. In addition to this leadership position in state government, Anne also served as Chief of Staff to Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman.  Anne worked as legal counsel to the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees during the development of the 2002 and the 2008 Farm Bill. Beyond her government service, Anne has also worked for several agricultural interest organizations, including the Indiana and California Farm Bureaus. Anne graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communications. In addition, she holds a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis and a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Chelsie Keys, Senior Professional Staff, Livestock and Food Safety Issues: Chelsie Keys comes to the Committee after spending eight years with the National Pork Producers Council where she was Director of Government Relations. In her role, Keys managed outreach to the U.S. Congress on issues including Mandatory Price Reporting, risk management, food safety, nutrition and animal health and welfare. Keys also managed NPPC's Competitive Markets Policy Committee, where she interfaced with representatives from the packing and producer communities to develop policy recommendations focused on risk management and price discovery for the pork industry. Keys was raised on a grain and cow-calf farm in southern Minnesota, and earned a degree in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota.

DaNita Murray, Senior Counsel: DaNita Murray most recently worked as Counsel for the House Committee on Agriculture.  DaNita has also worked for the National Corn Growers Association on biotechnology policy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including roles as a special assistant in the Under Secretary Office of Food Safety, congressional liaison, and confidential assistant in the Farm Service Agency.  She received her undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University and her Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School.  DaNita grew up on her family's farm near Milbank, South Dakota. 

Andy Rezendes, Investigative Counsel: Andrew Rezendes joins the Senate Agriculture Committee after recently serving as Counsel on the Investigations team of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Prior to joining the Oversight Committee, Andrew was in private practice for ten years with law firms in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. As a civil litigator he concentrated his practice on insurance defense litigation. While providing counsel to a variety of insurance companies and their insureds, Andrew handled a wide range of cases. Over the course of his career Andrew has amassed broad experience in managing cases from inception through trial, including countless witness interviews, depositions, mediations and settlement conferences. Andrew is a dual graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning both a bachelor’s degree in politics, and a law degree from the University's Columbus School of Law.  He is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Andrew is a native of Rhode Island, and while in high school he served in Washington, D.C. as a Senate Republican Page for the late Senator John H. Chafee (R-RI). 

Anthony Seiler, Staff Assistant/Legislative Correspondent: Anthony Seiler recently returned from Italy where he worked for two years with the University of Dallas Rome Program. A Kansas native, his family has farmed in the state for five generations and runs a diversified dairy and grain operation outside of Valley Center. Anthony received his bachelor's degree in politics from the University of Dallas and while in college interned for Senator Roberts in 2011.

Norwood Charles Thornton III, Senior Professional Staff and Counsel: “Charlie” Thornton will be the policy staffer responsible for executing the objectives of the Chairman and the Committee involving the Committee’s jurisdiction over the derivatives markets.  In this role he will serve as lead staff negotiator in legislative efforts to reauthorize the CFTC and the Committee’s oversight role over the Commission and its policies. Thornton most recently worked as a Counsel for Delta Strategy Group focusing on the derivatives markets and CFTC rulemakings, guidance, and no-action letters as well as derivatives related legislation. Thornton, a New Orleans native, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi and his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law.

In addition to Agriculture Committee staff, Senator Roberts has also hired a legislative assistant for agriculture in the personal office in Washington, DC. William Stafford joins Melvin Thompson, the Senator’s long time Kansas Agricultural Assistant.

William Stafford, Legislative Assistant: Will Stafford most recently served as Director of Government Affairs at the National Association of Wheat Growers, focusing mainly on trade, transportation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), biotechnology and food aid issues, among others. He originally joined the Wheat Growers as intern in 2011, assisting the government affairs staff in wide range of issues, such as crop insurance and environmental policy. Stafford is a graduate of Towson University, which is near Baltimore, Maryland, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics, with a minor in Business Administration. Stafford, whose family originally hails from eastern Kansas, was born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland after his family relocated to the Washington, DC area.

Other Committee staff announced last month can be found here and here.

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