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Keeping You Secure

Earlier this month, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) officially announced the staff of the Democratic office of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“I am pleased to introduce a staff that is comprised of a diverse, bright and talented compilation of people who have pledged to work tirelessly to ensure that our homeland is protected,” Thompson said in a release. “Each of them is exceptional and brings great abilities to the Committee and is ready for the important challenges that lie ahead.”

Heading up the committee as staff director is Jessica Herrera-Flanigan. A former counsel to the committee who handled cybersecurity, privacy and civil liberty issues, Herrera-Flanigan also previously worked for the Justice Department in the criminal division, where she served as senior counsel to the computer crime and intellectual property section. The Port Arthur, Texas, native also spent several years practicing law at Crowell and Moring LLP in Washington, D.C. Herrera-Flanigan attended Yale University as an undergraduate and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law.

A former counsel to the committee handling border security and immigration issues, Sue Ramanathan now serves as chief counsel and deputy staff director. Prior to joining the committee, Ramanathan served as senior policy adviser and counsel to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). She has also worked for Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and the American Bar Association. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, Ramanathan went on to earn a law degree from Rutgers School of Law and a master of law degree from Georgetown University. She hails from Cherry Hill, N.J.

Jennifer Gore now heads up the committee’s press office as communications director. Gore previously handled press issues for the House Financial Services Committee and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). She has also worked on the Kerry-Edwards campaign and for the Credit Union National Association. The Hartford, Conn., native holds a bachelor’s in international studies from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in communications from American University.

Stepping up as senior policy adviser to the committee is Todd Gee. Gee previously worked as a political consultant and lobbyist in Mississippi and also served as a federal clerk in Portland, Ore., and as a senior aide to Thompson. The Vicksburg, Miss., native holds a bachelor’s from George Washington University and a law degree from Tulane Law School.

Moving over to the Hill from the Homeland Security Department is Ryan Cast. Cast worked for the U.S. Border Patrol and as a law enforcement officer and technology professional for more than 20 years, and will now serve as the committee’s senior adviser for science and technology. He calls Chicago and St. Joseph, Mo., his home towns and holds a bachelor’s from San Diego State University.

Cherri Branson has been tapped to serve as counsel and coordinator for the subcommittee on management, integration and oversight. Branson has worked in the offices of Democratic Reps. Edolphus Towns (N.Y.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) and for the Government Reform Committee. The Shepherdstown, W.Va., native holds a bachelor’s from Vassar College, a law degree from Indiana University School of Law and a master’s of law from Emory University School of Law.

The committee’s new counsel and coordinator for the subcommittee on intelligence, information sharing and terrorism risk assessment is Tom Finan. Finan served as an assistant general counsel for the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel before joining the committee. Hailing from Little Silver, N.J., Finan holds a bachelor’s in American government and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Jerry Ross has taken over as the professional staff and coordinator for the subcommittee on emergency preparedness, science and technology. Before joining the committee, he was the director of government affairs for the National Fire Protection Association and served as legislative director for the Congressional Fire Services Institute. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s, Ross is from Brandon, Miss.

Allen Thompson, who previously worked for the committee in the 108th Congress, has stepped into the role of professional staff and coordinator for the economic security, infrastructure protection and cybersecurity subcommittee. Thompson, who earned a bachelor’s in government at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, also worked as an intelligence analyst at the Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center. The East Lyme, Conn., native holds a master’s in legislative affairs from George Washington University.

Joining the committee from the office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) is professional staff member Chris Beck, who will handle infrastructure issues focusing on energy and financial security for the committee. Hailing from Billings, Mont., Beck holds a bachelor’s in physics from Montana State University and a Ph.D. in physics from Tufts University.

Carla Buckner, who joined the committee in 2003, now serves as a counsel handling cybersecurity and related issues. Before moving over to the committee, Buckner coordinated Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) technology agenda and homeland security issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Buckner earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law.

Handling aviation security, budget and human capital issues for the committee is Rosaline Cohen, who previously worked as legislative counsel/director to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) before joining the committee. A Randolph, Mass., native, Cohen holds a bachelor’s from George Washington University and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

Josh Magarik, who served as the executive director and staff assistant for the committee in the 108th Congress, now serves as legislative assistant to the committee focusing on issues relating to emergency preparedness, port security and aviation. Hailing from Vestal, N.Y., Magarik graduated from Siena College with degrees in economics and marketing and management.

Nadra Harrison joins the committee as press assistant from her role as assistant operations manager for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Prior to working at the DCCC, Harrison was a staff assistant and deputy press secretary for Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.). The New Orleans native holds a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from Northwestern State University.

Rounding out the committee is Kandis Gibson who serves as staff assistant and also works as an assistant on management and oversight issues. Prior to joining the staff, Gibson served as the executive assistant to the director for America’s Families United Voter Protection Project. A native of Auburn, N.Y., Gibson holds a bachelor’s from Cornell University.

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