News From the Speaker

Posted March 20, 2007 at 4:33pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has added some new staffers to both her leadership and personal offices.

Coming to Pelosi’s team as senior counsel is Joseph Onek, 65. [IMGCAP(1)]

Onek previously served since 2005 as senior policy analyst for the Open Society Institute/Open Society Policy Center. Before that he was senior counsel and director of the Liberty and Security Initiative at The Constitution Project from 2001 to 2005. Over his long career, he also worked as a consultant for Population Services International in 2001, as a consultant for the World Bank Legal Department in 2001, as senior coordinator for the Rule of Law at the State Department from 1999 to 2001, as principal deputy associate attorney general at the Justice Department from 1997 to 1999, as a partner at Crowell & Moring from 1991 to 1997, as a partner at Onek Klein & Farr from 1981 to 1991, as deputy counsel to the president at the White House from 1979 to 1981, as associate director for Health and Human Resources on the domestic policy staff at the White House from 1977 to 1979, as director of health policy analysis for Carter-Mondale Transition Planning Group from 1976 to 1977, as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Law School from 1976 to 1977, and as an attorney and director of the Center for Law and Social Policy from 1971 to 1976, among other jobs. Onek also was a law clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan from 1968 to 1969 and for the late United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge David Bazelon from 1967 to 1968.

Among other organizational ties, Onek has served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2003.

A 1962 Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Onek earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics as a Marshall Scholar in 1964. He earned a law degree magna cum laude from Yale Law School, where he was first in his class. He also was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Onek is a native of New York City.

Serving as senior adviser and director of intergovernmental affairs is Cheryl Parker Rose.

Previously, Parker Rose served a brief stint at the end of 2006 as senior policy adviser for Tom Vilsack for President. Earlier in 2006, she worked as senior adviser to Heartland PAC. She also has worked as assistant to the president for strategic initiatives at the Service Employees International Union from 2005 to 2006, as counsel and director of policy for the Democratic Governors Association from 2001 to 2005, as special counsel to the governor of Florida from 1998 to 1999, as legislative assistant to then-Rep. Carrie Meek (D-Fla.) from 1997 to 1998, as staff director for the K-12 Education Committee in the Florida House of Representatives from 1996 to 1997, and as legislative counsel in the Florida House of Representatives’ majority office in 1995. From 1992 to 1994, she worked as a legislative advocate for Florida Legal Services.

From Tallahassee, Fla., Parker Rose wrote in an e-mail that she “lived in Nicaragua and Yugoslavia during their respective civil wars.” She also added that she is a “weekend ballroom dancer.”

Parker Rose earned her undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University and a law degree from Florida State University.

Ellen Qualls, 40, will serve as senior adviser for strategic planning.

Prior to joining the Speaker’s team, Qualls worked for Forward Together PAC as senior adviser for communications. She also formerly worked as communications director and press secretary for former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) and as state capitol bureau chief for WDBJ TV.

From Alexandria, Va., Qualls earned a bachelor’s degree in language and literature from the University of Virginia in 1988.

Coming in as senior new media adviser is Jesse Lee, 27. Lee will be the primary author of the Speaker’s blog and handle new media outreach, among other duties.

Previously, Lee worked as the online communications manager for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2004 to 2006.

“[I] decided to work in politics in 2002 after studying philosophy in college out of opposition to the Iraq War,” Lee wrote in an e-mail. As for this new staffer’s proudest professional moment?

“Tom DeLay blaming the website I designed for his indictment,” Lee boasted.

A 2002 graduate of Trinity College, Lee is from Takoma Park, Md.

Working as deputy communications director is Nadeam Elshami, 36.

Prior to joining Pelosi’s posse, Elshami was senior communications adviser for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). He also worked as deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and deputy press secretary for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

An international business graduate of the University of Evansville, Elshami is from Nashville, Tenn.

Coming to the office as an online writer is Erica Sagrans.

Before starting with Pelosi, Sagrans worked for the Rhode Island Right to Vote Campaign as media and coalition coordinator from August 2006 through the November midterm elections. She also has worked for the Rhode Island Family Life Center and as a freelance writer.

A 2005 graduate of Brown University, Sagrans writes in an e-mail that she “used to be a competitive pole vaulter and gymnast, and was on [her] high school’s boys wrestling team.” She is from Cambridge, Mass.

Crystal Chiu, 23, will work as a press assistant in the office. She previously held internships with Edelman Public Relations, Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations and Dittus Communications.

A 2006 honors graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in communication studies, Chiu is from Houston.

Michael Long, 24, will work as a staff assistant.

Prior to assuming his new job, Long worked as an associate at Metcalf Federal Relations from 2005 to 2006. He also worked as a program assistant for the Council of Deans at the Association of American Medical Colleges from 2004 to 2005. He interned for Jefferson Government Relations in 2004.

Long wrote in an e-mail that he is “an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow.”

A native of Blanch, N.C., Long graduated from Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and political science in 2004.

Hera Abbasi, 22, also joins the office as a staff assistant. [IMGCAP(2)]

While studying history at Harvard University, Abbasi was a staff writer for the Harvard Crimson, a field intern for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign, a student associate for the Belfer Center for International Affairs at Harvard and a faculty adviser for the National Young Leaders Conference.

Abbasi wrote in an e-mail that she can speak English, Spanish, Urdu, Arabic and translate Latin.

A 2006 Harvard graduate, Abbasi is from Boston.

Yuri Beckelman, 25, also will serve as a staff assistant in the office.

Previously, Beckelman worked as an intern for Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) since August 2006. He also worked as regional director of Americans for Informed Democracy from 2005 to 2006.

Beckelman wrote in an e-mail that he “teach[es] Model United Nations at McKinley High School in Washington, D.C.”

A native of San Francisco, Beckelman earned his undergraduate degree in global studies from California State University at Monterey Bay in 2006.

Finally, Evelyn Pruneda, 22, also will work as a staff assistant in the office. Previously, she worked as a legislative fellow for Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz).

From Fresno, Calif., Pruneda earned a bachelor’s degree in politics and history from Occidental College in 2006.

Press Move. Stephen Wilson is moving up in the world. Formerly the special projects director for Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) since 2006, he will now work as deputy press secretary in the office.

A 2005 summa cum laude graduate in journalism and political philosophy from Syracuse University, Wilson wrote in an e-mail that he was “first in his class in the Newhouse School of Communications.” He is from Buffalo, N.Y.

Walsh Chief Retires. Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.) recently bid farewell to his longtime chief of staff while promoting one of his own to replace him.

Longtime Hill staffer Arthur Jutton, 70, has put down his BlackBerry to become a retiree. He had served as a staffer in the House of Representatives for 37 years.

Prior to working as Walsh’s administrative assistant since 1988, Jutton worked in the same role for the late Rep. Gerry Solomon (R-N.Y) and then-Rep. Gary Lee (R-N.Y). He also worked in the district office of then-Rep. John Terry (R-N.Y) and as a field representative for then-Rep. Bill Walsh (R-N.Y), Jim Walsh’s father.

Attempting to fill Jutton’s shoes is Daniel Gage, 35, who will now serve as chief of staff in the office. Previously, Gage served as Walsh’s communications director based in Syracuse, N.Y., since 2000.

Before joining Walsh’s team, Gage worked as director of public affairs for the city of Syracuse.

A 1993 graduate of the College of Holy Cross, Gage earned a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School in 2005.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great staff over the years,” Walsh said in a statement on these staff changes as well as some staff moves in his district office, “and I’m especially pleased with this new line-up.”