Entering the 117th Congress: A Bipartisan Conversation with Congressional Chiefs of Staff
March 31, 2021
Just weeks into the 117th Congress, lawmakers have already had to grapple with a seemingly endless array of national crises. From the Capitol insurrection to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this new Congress has been tested like never before with urgent problems such as exacerbated economic inequalities and drastic divisions along party lines that desperately need unified solutions. This has made the job of Chief of Staff, the highest-ranking congressional staffer and direct contact to lawmakers, even more challenging, having to focus on ever-changing priorities and manage this shifting political climate.
The Association of Former Members of Congress, the John Brademas Center of New York University, and the Archer Center of the University of Texas System co-hosted a conversation with Chiefs of Staff who spoke candidly on how they are navigating the new landscape on Capitol Hill.
This conversation was part of the Young Leaders Network series and included Jen Daulby, Republican Staff Director, Committee on House Administration, Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL); Wade Miller, Chief of Staff, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX); Candace Randle Person, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Communications, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY); and, Mitchell Rivard, Chief of Staff, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI).
Current NYU undergraduates, Leah Bahramipour and Christina Bowllan, served as co-moderators.
Jen Daulby, Republican Staff Director, Committee on House Administration, Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Jen Daulby is the Republican Staff Director for the Committee on House Administration, which commands primary jurisdiction of campaign finance and federal election policy and oversees the day-to-day operations of the U.S. House of Representations. Prior to her role managing the Committee, Ms. Daulby served for six years as the top staffer to Congressman Rodney Davis upon his election in 2013. As Chief of Staff, she assisted the Congressman in establishing and maintaining the Office of the 13th Congressional District of Illinois, which is one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country and encompasses 14 counties in Central and Southern Illinois.
In 2009, Ms. Daulby briefly left the public sector to establish the Washington, D.C. office for Land O'Lakes Company. Using her prior experience, which specialized in agriculture policy with areas of expertise including antitrust and intellectual property, she handled federal government affairs, lobbying Congress and federal agencies on behalf of Land O’Lakes Co.
Ms. Daulby’s extensive career also includes serving in various roles on Capitol Hill including, counsel to the Subcommittee Chair on the Constitution; legal counsel to the House Committee on Agriculture; and legislative assistant to Congressman John Shimkus.
Wade Miller, Chief of Staff, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)
Wade Miller is a combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman. He has spent more than a decade working with the conservative grassroots movement, campaigns, public policy development in Washington, and on Capitol Hill.
After deploying into combat theatres three times in Iraq and the Horn of Africa, Wade became involved in the Tea Party movement at home. Wade brought his understanding of the conservative grassroots to Heritage Action for America, working as a Senior Regional Coordinator covering the South Central portion of the United States, including his home state of Texas.
Wade also served as Political Director for Senator Ted Cruz during the 2018 Senate campaign cycle. Currently, he serves as Chief of Staff for his good friend Congressman Chip Roy.
Wade lives in Virginia with his family. He is a gun enthusiast, radically opposed to “cancel culture,” and is unafraid to speak out on issues destroying the culture and society his son will inherit. Wade is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas.
Candace Randle Person, Deputy Chief of Staff & Director of Communications, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
Candace Randle Person is an award-winning PR professional with over 15 years of experience and expertise in communications and public relations, which she leverages in her current role as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Communications for the Office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York’s 13th congressional district, which includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill, and the north-west Bronx.
Previously, Candace held a similar role with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), where she served as the Director of Communications and National Media. Prior to the CBC, Candace worked as the Director of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for The RLJ Companies where she developed a series of multi-tiered communications strategies to promote the company and its chairman, Robert L. Johnson (founder of Black Entertainment Television - BET), and the diverse business operations within the RLJ corporate portfolio. Her career highlights include having served as part of the political team for Hillary Clinton, as a campaign writer and briefer for Al Gore, as well as an aide in the United States Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the Office of the Governor for her home state of Arkansas.
During her career, Candace has worked extensively in the political, public affairs, and media arenas, and has earned coverage in some of today’s foremost leading news outlets that include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, CNN, FORTUNE Magazine, Forbes, Univision, the BBC and The Washington Post. She has been recognized by PRWeek, one of the industry’s top trade publications as one of its “40 Under 40: New Trailblazers” (2013); The Network Journal as a "40 Under Forty” Achievement Award recipient (2014); she has been featured in the High Profile section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (2014) for her work in politics and public affairs; and recognized by ESSENCE magazine as a D.C. Power Player (2014).
Candace graduated with leadership honors from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and History, and she received a Master of Public Administration (MPA), summa cum laude, from the Institute of Government at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She currently resides in Maryland with her husband and their twins.
Mitchell Rivard, Chief of Staff, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI)
Mitchell Rivard started working for Dan Kildee’s campaign in 2011 and has served in his congressional office over five terms. As Chief of Staff, Mitchell oversees the Congressman’s offices in Flint and Washington, D.C., manages the Congressman’s staff and acts as the top adviser to the Congressman on legislative and political issues.
As Chief Deputy Whip, Congressman Kildee serves in House Democratic leadership and Mitchell acts as his liaison to the Speaker, the Majority Leader and the Majority Whip’s office, helping to build support for Democratic priorities and legislation. Additionally, Mitchell advises the Congressman about trade, tax and health care issues on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Prior to working in the Congressman’s office, Mitchell worked in other prominent government and political roles, including the U.S. Justice Department as a political appointee of the Obama Administration, in the press office of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Mitchell also served as Hillary Clinton’s communications director in Michigan during the 2016 presidential election.
Mitchell is a native of Bay City, Michigan, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Relations and Policy from Michigan State University.
Leah Bahramipour is a junior from NYU in New York City majoring in Politics and Environmental Studies. She is from Moraga, California.
Christina Bowllan is a junior from NYU Shanghai majoring in Political Science with a minor in Chinese language. She is from New York City, New York.