Burgess Launches New Health Care Fellowship

Posted October 21, 2005 at 2:39pm

Taking advantage of a unique partnership between between her college and a Congressional office, Jessica Nguyen-Trong will join the staff of Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) as a health care Congressional fellow.

The University of Texas Southwestern, where Nguyen-Trong has just completed her first year as a medical student, has an exclusive agreement with Burgess’ office in determining who will fill this position, the first of its kind offered by a member of the Texas delegation.

“I am honored that Jessica decided to join our team in Washington,” Burgess said. “Her unique public policy background and medical education will be an invaluable asset as we work on transforming America’s health care system.” [IMGCAP(1)]

For Nguyen-Trong, the fellowship presented a unique opportunity to link her medical research with her interest in influencing the American health care system. With her membership in the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association, she often found herself at the crossroads of medicine and public policy during her first year at the University of Texas Southwestern.

“I have come to understand how intricately linked the practice of medicine is to public health legislation,” Nguyen-Trong said. “I want to shape the environment in which future physicians and I will be practicing.”

At Texas A&M University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in biology and a business minor, Nguyen-Trong at first gravitated toward the study of American foreign

policy, as she attended conferences examining U.S. relations between both China and North Korea. Fluent in four languages, she would also compose a script in Spanish, in conjunction with the school’s department of performance studies, highlighting some of the public policy problems facing a troubled region of Mexico.

Burgess, a licensed ob/gyn, chairman of the Policy subcommittee on Medicare and Medicaid Services and a member of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health, said the newly created fellowship dovetails nicely with his efforts in the health care policy arena.

“I believe the position will provide a necessary link between the medical community and Congress,” Burgess said. “I hope Jessica is the first of many bright and civic-minded medical professionals who will participate in this new program.”

Besides the addition of Nguyen-Trong as health care policy fellowship, Burgess has made numerous other changes to his staff.

His new chief of staff, Barry Brown, has accumulated a wealth of Congressional experience since he first arrived on Capitol Hill in 1991 as a legislative assistant to then-Rep. Larry Combest (R-Texas). After three years, Combest promoted Brown to legislative director, the position he would occupy until 1997, when he signed on as legislative director to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). In 2000, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) tapped Brown as her chief of staff. A 1989 graduate of Texas Tech University, where he majored in political science, Brown will specialize in telecommunications in his new role.

With her promotion from legislative correspondent, Brenna Head becomes Burgess’ new scheduler. During her time with Burgess she has also contributed five months as a staff assistant. Head holds a bachelor’s in cinema from Southern Methodist University.

Michelle Stein, formerly a social science analyst at the Smithsonian Institution, serves as communications director. She has also worked in the outreach department of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, in the marketing department of American Health Lawyers Association, as a media relations manager for Sprint Inc., and as an American history instructor at Baylor University. Stein has earned two history degrees from Baylor, a bachelor’s in 1995 and a master’s in 1997.

Burgess has promoted his senior legislative assistant, Josh Martin, to the position of legislative director, where his work will center on issues of health care, Social Security, homeland security and immigration. Martin graduated from the University of Texas in 2000 with a degree in government, at which point he joined the staff of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) as a budget and policy analyst. After one year in this role, he moved on to become the health and human services policy director for the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations.

Kim Reasoner, hired as legislative counsel in June, will take on additional responsibilities as a legislative aide. Reasoner has performed internships for Burgess and Granger, and she has served as a law clerk for the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Program. She will concentrate on issues of transportation, education, law enforcement, agriculture, and issues addressed by the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigation. Reasoner earned her bachelor’s in business administration from Texas Christian University in 2001, and in 2004 she completed her studies at Texas Tech University School of Law.

Stacey DeFino, promoted from legislative assistant to senior legislative assistant, has previously served as legislative correspondent and staff assistant to then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), interned for the U.S. Department of Education, and in 2000 volunteered for the Bush-Cheney campaign team. As a legislative assistant, DeFino has specialized in energy, tax, budget and financial services issues. She holds a political science degree from the University of Texas, from which she graduated in 2001.

Two former Burgess interns, Katy Sellers and Lindsey Akins, have earned promotions to legislative correspondent. Sellers graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in international business, and Akins earned her degree in public relations from the University of Oklahoma.

Burgess’ new staff assistant, Aubrey Colvard, once served as scheduler and legislative assistant to Texas state Rep. Wayne Smith (R). She double-majored in government and history at the University of Texas.