Alexander Announces Staff Changes

Friday, February 1, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Friday announced the following staff changes stemming from his election as the top republican, or ranking member, of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee:

At the committee, Senator Alexander’s current legislative director, David P. Cleary, will serve as Republican staff director, MarySumpter Lapinski will serve as health policy director, Peter Oppenheim will serve as education policy director, Lindsey Ward Seidman will serve as senior policy advisor, and Michael Merrell will serve as chief counsel.

Jim Jeffries will continue to serve as communications director, overseeing press in Alexander’s Senate office and at the HELP committee (Republican). Liz Wolgemuth will move from the Senate office to serve as Republican press secretary for the HELP committee. Brian Reisinger, formerly a reporter for the Nashville Business Journal and new to the office, will serve as press secretary in Sen. Alexander’s office.

In Senator Alexander’s senate office, Allison Martin will serve as deputy legislative director.

David P. Cleary will be the Republican staff director at the HELP committee, and will continue to serve as Senator Alexander's legislative director, an assignment he has held since 2011.  From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Cleary was Alexander’s staff director for the HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families. He previously served as a staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce under then-Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio), and as a legislative analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. Mr. Cleary earned a B.A. in Political Science and Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

MarySumpter Lapinski will be health policy director for the committee. Since 2007, she has served as Health Policy Advisor to Senator Alexander. She was manager of Policy & Government Affairs for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Europe from 2005 to 2007 and manager of Federal Government Affairs for Bristol-Myers Squibb in Washington, D.C., from 2002 to 2005.  She also served as director of Government Affairs for Jeffery J. Kimbell & Associates, a medical device lobbying firm in Washington, DC, from 2001 to 2002.  She was health legislative assistant to Senator Bill Frist (R-Tn.) from 1999 to 2001 and a legislative aide to Congressman Van Hilleary (R-Tn.) 1997 to 1999. She earned a B.A. in French and English at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

Peter Oppenheim will be the education policy director and counsel for the committee. He comes to this position after serving the past two years as Senator Alexander’s legislative counsel, advising the Senator on all education, labor, and pensions-related issues. Before joining Senator Alexander’s staff, Mr. Oppenheim was a managing associate in the education practice at Carmen Group, a government relations firm in Washington, DC, from 2007 – 2011, representing institutions of higher education, school districts, and nonprofit organizations. Mr. Oppenheim also served as a research assistant for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) from 2004 to 2006. He holds a J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law and a B.A. from Colby College, in Waterville, Me.

Lindsey Ward Seidman has worked for Senator Alexander since his first Senate campaign in 2002, and served as policy director on his 2008 Senate campaign.  Most recently, Ms. Ward was a professional staff member on the Senate Rules Committee. She earned a B.A. in History at Vanderbilt University. 

Michael Merrell comes to the HELP Committee from the U.S. Senate Rules Committee where he has advised senate republicans on senate rules and procedure, election administration, and campaign finance. Prior to serving on the Rules Committee, he worked for Senator Bob Bennett, who gave him his first job after graduating from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 2005. His legislative experience also includes issues under the jurisdictions of the Judiciary, Commerce, and Finance Committees. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Allison Martin has served as projects manager and legislative counsel for nearly two years. She previously worked for former Senator Fred Thompson and Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D.  She previously practiced law in West Tennessee where she grew up. Ms. Martin earned a B.A. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University.

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