House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s longtime chief of staff, John Lawrence, is retiring, and Nadeam Elshami, previously Pelosi’s communications director, will replace him.
Lawrence presided as the California Democrat’s top aide, and as the most powerful staffer in the House, during her time as the first female speaker.
Before working for Pelosi, Lawrence was staff director for one of Pelosi’s top lieutenants, Rep. George Miller, at the Education and the Workforce Committee. Lawrence came to Washington, D.C., with Miller in 1975 when the California Democrat was elected.
“On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank John Lawrence for his 38 years of service to the House of Representatives. Few staff members have ever had the impact that John has had on so many laws that have been enacted in his years in my office as Speaker and as Democratic Leader,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Elshami has worked on Capitol Hill for 21 years and for Pelosi since 2007. He led messaging efforts on House passage of two touchstone legislative achievements for President Barack Obama and Pelosi: the health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.
In addition to Elshami replacing Lawrence, three other aides are being promoted or given expanded responsibilities.
George Kundanis, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, will be given an “expanded role for legislative and Member responsibilities,” according to a release from Pelosi’s office.
Diane Dewhirst is being promoted to be another Pelosi deputy chief of staff, with “a portfolio focused on strategic planning.”
Drew Hammill will take Elshami’s previous position as communications director.
The news of Lawrence retiring was first reported by Politico.