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Tommy Tuberville announces key staff hires

U.S. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Thursday announced the first series of appointments to his staff, sending a strong signal that “Team Tuberville” will be well-equipped to advance the interests of the people of Alabama in Washington, D.C.

The key staff hires made Thursday come after Tuberville recently announced that Capitol Hill veteran Stephen E. Boyd will serve as his chief of staff.

The appointments announced Thursday were the following: legislative director Bradley Hayes; communications director Ryann DuRant; administrative director Jessica Newman; chief counsel and policy advisor Mary Blanche Hankey; and senior policy advisor Mike Albares.

All together, Tuberville’s initial six hires have a combined 70 years of experience in Washington; they have worked for nine different Republican members of Congress and seven federal agencies between the George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump administrations. The team has personal ties to the Huntsville, Florence, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Dothan and Mobile areas.

“This is a team that knows Alabama and knows how to get things done in Washington,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Our staff is going to be accessible to the people we represent, and aggressive in our fight for traditional conservative values and the people of Alabama.”

Tuberville’s transition team provided the following information regarding the hires:

Bradley F. Hayes will oversee all aspects of Sen. Tuberville’s legislative agenda as Legislative Director. Hayes, a native of Mobile, currently serves as Vice President of External Affairs at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). Hayes is an advisor to the CEO and leads the team that manages DFC’s congressional outreach, communications, and stakeholder engagement. In the Trump Administration, Hayes also held senior executive positions at the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Hayes is a 2005 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and 1999 graduate of Birmingham-Southern College. Following law school, Hayes served as a senior attorney on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for former Senator Jeff Sessions before later serving as a Director of Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Ryann DuRant will lead all public messaging from Sen. Tuberville’s office as Communications Director. DuRant is currently the Senior Advisor for Internal Communications at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she stood up the first internal communications office at the 109,000 employee Department. She joined USDA as the Department’s Press Secretary after spending nearly eight years on Capitol Hill, most recently as then-Majority Whip Senator John Cornyn’s (TX) Press Secretary and, previously, as Communications Director to Representative Austin Scott from southern Georgia. A native of South Carolina, Ryann graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in Communication, and lives with her husband in Washington.

Jessica Jelgerhuis Newman will manage the day-to-day operations of the senator’s office as Administrative Director. A graduate of Covenant College, Newman has more than a decade of experience working for the conservative movement in Washington. She served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in various roles, including Director of Scheduling for Senator Rand Paul (KY). Newman worked in a senior level position at The Heritage Foundation, and has served two presidents, first in the George W. Bush administration and, most recently, in the Donald J. Trump administration as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Jessica lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Pastor and Air Force Reserve Chaplain Nathan Newman, of Huntsville, and their two daughters.

Mary Blanche Neese Hankey will serve as Chief Counsel and Policy Advisor. Hankey is a native of the Quad-Cities, growing up in Tuscumbia and Florence. For the past four years, Hankey has served in leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Justice, including Acting Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legislative Affairs. Previously, she led the Presidential Transition Team at the Department and served as the Department’s White House Liaison for the first six months of the Trump Administration. Hankey practiced civil defense litigation at Sirote & Permutt’s Birmingham office for several years before joining former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ office in D.C. as Legislative Counsel in 2012. Hankey received a Bachelor of Science in Economics, summa cum laude, from the University of Alabama, and Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Cumberland School of Law. Hankey lives in Washington with her husband and two sons.

Mike Albares will focus on Alabama’s agricultural industry as Senior Policy Advisor. Albares, a native of Dothan, has worked on Capitol Hill since 2010, most recently serving as Chief of Staff to Representative Martha Roby from Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Albares served in Roby’s office for each of the Representative’s five terms, working at every level in the congressional policy shop, traveling the state extensively, and focusing on Alabama’s farming and forestry industries. Albares also previously served in the office of U.S. Senator George Voinovich (OH). Albares, a graduate of the University of Richmond, lives with his wife in Washington.

Tuberville is expected to announce another round of staff hires next week.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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