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Blumenauer Bolsters Staff

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has promoted three staff members and hired three more for both his Washington, D.C., and district offices.

James Koski has been promoted from legislative director to deputy chief of staff. In addition to working on certain legislative issues, Koski will oversee the day-to-day operations in the Congressman’s D.C. office. He has also served in the office as a legislative assistant.

The Seattle native received his bachelor’s from the University of Oregon and his master’s in community and regional planning from the University of Texas. Prior to joining Blumenauer’s office in 2001, Koski worked as an audit manager for KPMG, a “global network of professional service firms providing audit, tax and advisory services,” according to its Web site.

Janine Benner takes over for Koski, as she has been promoted from senior legislative assistant to legislative director. She will now handle Blumenauer’s legislative portfolio and has worked for him since September 2001.

Before joining the Oregon lawmaker’s staff, Benner worked for the California Public Interest Research Group, whose “mission is to deliver persistent, result oriented public interest activism that encourages a fair, sustainable economy and fosters responsive, democratic government.” The Portland, Ore., native graduated with a bachelor’s in history and French from Princeton University.

Judah Ariel has been promoted from staff assistant to legislative assistant. Ariel started as an intern in January 2004 and was hired on as a staff assistant the following month. He will handle issues related to the House International Relations Committee, among others.

A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Ariel graduated from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s in sociology in 2004. Before heading to D.C., Ariel worked for Seeds of Peace, Americans for Peace Now and the Robert Reich for Governor campaign.

Willie Smith has been hired as senior adviser. Before joining Blumenauer’s Portland office, he served as the campaign manager for Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (D) and in a number of different positions for Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.). He graduated from Willamette University in 1996.

Jackie Lynn Ray has been brought on board to serve as executive assistant and office manager. She previously worked as an account coordinator at Ketchum Inc. and in the mid-Atlantic fundraising office for the Kerry presidential campaign. The Hermiston, Ore., native graduated from the University of Oregon in 2003 with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Katie Drennan has been picked to fill the staff assistant vacancy. She has interned for the Congressman for the past two years, both in the district office and in the D.C. office. She graduated from Smith College earlier this month.

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