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New Resources for Panel

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has recently added a half-dozen new staffers to its Democratic staff.

Angela Becker-Dippmann, 32, will serve as a professional staff member. [IMGCAP(1)]

Before joining the committee, Becker-Dippmann worked as a legislative assistant, senior policy adviser, communications director and ultimately policy director for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) since 2001. Before that, she worked for Energy NewsData Corp. from 1997 to 2001.

From Wausau, Wis., Becker-Dippmann earned her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in 1996.

Jonathan Epstein, 49, also will work as a professional staff member at the committee. He will be responsible for working on issues relating to energy research and development, nuclear issues and other Energy Department matters.

Previously, Epstein worked for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) as a legislative fellow from 2000 to 2007. Among the many other positions Epstein has held over his career include stints as a policy analyst at the Bureau of Export Administration in the Commerce Department in 1999, as a science adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1995 to 1997, as a Carnegie Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control from 1994 to 1995, as an assistant professor in the department of engineering at Georgia Tech University from 1988 to 1990, and as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University in England in 1984. He also worked for Idaho National Engineering Laboratory as both an engineering specialist and a consulting scientist. [IMGCAP(2)]

If his list of professional activities is not impressive enough, perhaps his educational background will do the trick.

A 1980 graduate in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University, Epstein earned a Ph.D. in engineering science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1983. In 2000, he earned a law degree from the University of Idaho, and in 2003 he received a master’s of laws degree from Georgetown University.

Epstein is also a published author and international lecturer. And if you are interested in reading his 1983 Ph.D. dissertation, “On the Variation of the First Classical Eigenvalue of Fracture Mechanics in Three-Dimensional Transitory Stress Fields,” feel free to contact him. That is, if you don’t know that stuff already.

Epstein is from White Plains, N.Y.

Also coming to the committee as a professional staffer is Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, 26. He will work on issues dealing with public lands and Indian Affairs.

Previously, Silva-Bañuelos worked on Bingaman’s re-election campaign from August 2006 through Election Day and as a legislative correspondent and aide in his Senate office from 2004 to 2006.

“I speak Spanish and Japanese,” the multilingual staffer wrote in an e-mail, “and [I] spent a year teaching English to junior high school students in rural Japan after graduation.”

And for those Hill bullies who thought it may be fun to pick on some of the new Energy Committee staffers, be forewarned: Silva-Bañuelos has a 1st degree black belt in Aikido.

The Albuquerque, N.M., native graduated from the University of San Diego summa cum laude in 2003 with a degree in international relations and Spanish.

Tara Billingsley will work as a professional staffer responsible for dealing with energy markets, international energy issues and fuels, among other issues.

Before moving to the committee, she worked as an international coordinator for the Department of Energy’s energy information administration since October 2005. Before that, she worked in the Energy Department’s office of intelligence as the director of its energy security division from 2002 to 2005. She also worked as an economist in the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration from 1999 to 2002.

Billingsley earned her undergraduate degree from American University in 1995 and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in 1998.

New to the committee as a staff assistant is Rachel Pasternack, 23.

Pasternack recently worked as a political organizer with the League of Conservation Voters. She also worked as an administrative/teacher’s assistant at Escuela Del Sol Montessori School.

A magna cum laude graduate from the University of New Mexico with a dual degree in political science and Spanish, Pasternack is from Taos, N.M.

Finally, Britni Rillera, 21, also will work as a staff assistant.

From Redondo Beach, Calif., Rillera proves that you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl.

“[I enjoy] maintaining [my] California lifestyle even though [I’m] on the east coast,” she wrote in an e-mail, “with yoga, organic food, shopping and nights out with friends.”

Rillera earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern California in 2006.

Conaway Staffs Up. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) has added a few good staffers to his office.

Faith Leichliter, 24, will work as scheduler in the office. Prior to starting her new job, she worked as an executive assistant for then-Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and as a staff assistant to Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

From Laceyville, Pa., Leichliter earned a psychology degree from Lycoming College in 2004.

Kenan Carraway, 27, is also a new face in the office. He will work as a military legislative assistant. Previously, he worked as a military legislative correspondent for Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) since 2003.

Carraway, who wrote in an e-mail that he “can only live somewhere that has southern belles and sweet tea,” earned his undergraduate degree in history from Arkansas State University in 2001. The Sikeston, Mo., native earned a master’s degree in history from the same institution in 2003.

Finally, Claire Howard, 22, joins the Conaway team as a staff assistant. She previously interned for Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) in the fall of 2006.

She wrote in an e-mail that she enjoys “Shakespeare, German food, Tobias Bluth quotes, and University of Texas football.”

A 2005 English and history graduate from the University of Texas, Howard is from Midland, Texas.

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