Press Releases

CSBA Announces Congressional Defense Seminar Fellows

Washington, D.C., October 9, 2019 – The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), the world’s premier center for understanding future international competition and conflict, is proud to announce its inaugural class of fellows for the CSBA Congressional Defense Seminar Series. This seminar series is an in-depth bipartisan program for Congressional staff members. This evening series of topical seminars aims to provide staffers with the tools to master the conceptual foundations of defense policy as well as the intricacies of contemporary national security processes. The forum begins next week and will feature senior CSBA scholars and outside experts on national security policy.

After a highly selective application process, our 16 incoming CSBA Congressional Defense Seminar Fellows are an experienced and bipartisan group of rising leaders, hailing from all corners of the Hill, including personal, committee, and leadership offices in the House and Senate.

Paola Amador

Communications Director, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY-15)

Paola Amador has nearly ten years of experience working as a press staffer in Congress, advising members on messaging and outreach, and managing relations with journalists and other media stakeholders. She currently works as Communications Director for Congressman Serrano from New York, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee. Prior to working on the Hill, she worked at the Inter-American Dialogue, a leading think-tank on Western Hemisphere affairs.

Patty-Jane Geller

Staff Assistant, Senate Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces and Cybersecurity Subcommittee

Originally from Harrison, New York, Patty-Jane currently serves as a Research Assistant on the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Cybersecurity and Strategic Forces Subcommittees. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 where she received her B.A. in Government and minors in Physics and Science and Technology in International Affairs. Currently, she is pursuing her M.A. in Military Operational Art and Science through the Air Command and Staff College. Prior to joining the SASC, Patty-Jane worked as a Staff Assistant for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21). In the past, she has interned on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on the Space Subcommittee and at United Launch Alliance.

Corey Jacobson

Legislative Director, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33)

Corey Jacobson is the Legislative Director for Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA). In addition to leading the legislative team, Corey acts as the Congressman's chief adviser on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and national security policy. Corey also serves as an officer in the United States Navy Reserve. Prior to joining Congressman Lieu’s staff, he served as the foreign affairs adviser to Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and managed the Jewish Member Delegation. He has worked on three congressional campaigns, served on the Middle East policy group for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and led trainings for Members of Parliament abroad through the House Democracy Partnership. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Corey graduated from the George Washington University and holds a Master's in Global Politics from the London School of Economics.

Zachary Keck

Professional Staff Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation

Zachary Keck is the Professional Staff Member for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation. Previously, he was the Wohlstetter Public Affairs Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center where he wrote a book about how allied proliferation impacts U.S. national security. Before coming to NPEC, Zachary was a researcher at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Previously, he was the managing editor of The National Interest. Zachary has also been the managing editor of The Diplomat, where he authored the Pacific Realist blog.

Graham Kelly

Legislative Director, Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA-25)

Graham Kelly currently serves as the Legislative Director for Congresswoman Katie Hill of CA-25. Rep. Hill is the Vice-Chair of the House Oversight Committee, as well as serving on the Armed Services Committee and the Science Space & Technology Committee. In addition to her Committee responsibilities, she’s the current congressional freshmen class’s representative to caucus leadership, making her a liaison between the Democratic freshmen class and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Before joining Rep. Hill in Washington D.C., Graham worked as the Finance Director of Ms. Hill’s congressional campaign. Graham has six years of political experience dating back to his first campaign job on the 2012 Obama Presidential Campaign. Graham is a graduate with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee and is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Zachary Laven

Legislative Assistant, Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ-06)

Zack Laven is a Legislative Assistant in the Office of Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06), who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means. Zack manages the Defense and National Security, Foreign Affairs, Energy and Environment, Labor, and Transportation and Infrastructure related policy issues for the Congressman. He also works on Trade policy for the office as well as co-manages the Tunisia Caucus, of which Rep. Schweikert is co-chair.

Zack is from Scottsdale, Arizona and graduated from American University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, and graduated from The London School of Economics and Political Science in 2014 with a Master’s Degree in Politics and Government of the European Union.

Chrissi Lee

Legislative Director, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04)

Chrissi Lee serves as the Legislative Director and Defense Policy Advisor for Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, who represents Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood. In this role, Chrissi manages the Congresswoman’s legislative initiatives and has primary responsibility for the Congresswoman’s work on the House Armed Services Committee. In addition, her portfolio includes issues related to Defense, Budget, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Veterans Affairs.

Chrissi grew up in Centreville, Virginia and is a proud member of an Air Force family. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Relations in 2012 from Virginia Tech and earned her Master’s degree in Military Operational Art and Science from the Air Force Air Command and Staff College in 2018. Chrissi began her career in Washington, D.C. as the Staff Assistant for Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia before working her way up to Legislative Assistant. She joined Congresswoman Hartzler’s staff in April 2017.

Jenna Lifhits

Deputy Policy Director, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY-At-Large)

Jenna works on national security and defense issues for GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney. She was formerly a reporter at The Weekly Standard and worked in the war room at the Washington Free Beacon.


Rachel Littleton

Professional Staff Member, Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense

Rachel Littleton is a Professional Staff Member for the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense. She assists with all accounts related to the Defense Health Program. Before moving to the Defense Subcommittee, she was Staff Assistant to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies as well as the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Prior to the Committee, she worked in the office of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). She holds a B.A. in public relations from Auburn University.

Graham Markiewicz

Defense Policy Advisor, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Mr. Graham Markiewicz is the Defense Policy Advisor to Senator Kyrsten Sinema. He focuses on policy related to defense, intelligence, veteran’s issues and foreign affairs. Previously, he worked as Legislative Counsel and Military Legislative Assistant for Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10). Graham served in the US Army as an Infantry officer, conducting two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division and completing Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger schools. Graham holds a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a JD from Boston College Law School.

Miranda Moorman

Senior Legislative Assistant, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-02)

Miranda Moorman serves as the Senior Legislative Assistant to U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). Miranda covers armed services, foreign affairs, homeland security, veterans’ affairs, homeland security, immigration, judiciary, Native American affairs, transportation, telecommunications, Second Amendment, and adoption policy. She began her career on Capitol Hill in 2014 with the House Committee on Agriculture before moving to Rep. Mullin’s office in 2015.

Miranda grew up in Leedey, Oklahoma, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources degree. While at OSU, she majored in Agricultural Communications and minored in Political Science. She received a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School where she focused on National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations.

David Ogle

Military Legislative Assistant, Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC-01)

David Ogle joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school, and in 2010, he deployed to the Helmand Provence in Afghanistan. He graduated from the University of Miami in 2015 with a B.A. in Philosophy. David started working on Capitol Hill through the HillVets Fellowship program before being hired as a Legislative Assistant in the office of Rep. Stephanie Murphy, where he worked for two years. David now works in the Office of Rep. Joe Cunningham as his Military Legislative Assistant.

Katie Peake

Defense Legislative Correspondent, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Katie is the Defense Legislative Correspondent in the office of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. Her portfolio includes defense, foreign affairs, homeland security, space, and military construction issues, and she focuses on research and writing regarding these topics. In addition, she works closely with the office’s National Security Advisor and assists in support of Senator Shelby's position as Chairman of both the full Senate Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. This role requires familiarity with the Pentagon’s complex budget as well as the appropriations process.

Katie began her career on the Hill immediately after graduating from Samford University as an intern for former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The opportunity to work as a part of Senator Sessions’ defense team, and growing up near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, led to her interest in a career focused on national security issues. Following this internship, Katie joined Representative Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) office where she served as a Staff Assistant and Legislative Correspondent before moving to Senator Shelby’s office in March 2017. Prior to acquiring the defense portfolio as an LC, Katie focused on law enforcement, judiciary, and immigration issues. Katie received her B.A. in International Relations from Samford University in 2015 and is currently working on an M.A. in Defense and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Matthew Rich

Military Legislative Assistant, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME-02)

Matt Rich is Rep. Jared Golden’s Military Legislative Assistant. Matt manages the Congressman’s House Armed Services Committee oversight responsibilities, including his membership on the Tactical Air and Land and Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittees. Matt previously served as a National Security Law Fellow for Rep. Seth Moulton while pursuing a Masters of Law in National Security at Georgetown University Law Center.

A U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate, Matt currently serves at the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command. Previous active duty assignments include service as a legal advisor to the Convening Authority for Military Commissions and as a Judge Advocate and Operations Officer at Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF) 435 in Parwan, Afghanistan.

Matt earned his LL.M. in National Security Law at Georgetown in May 2018. He received his J.D. at the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2009, and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2006.

Hannah Strub

Military Legislative Assistant, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-01)

Ms. Hannah Strub is the Military Legislative Assistant for U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-01). The daughter of a naval officer, she grew up around the world and attended high school in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a 2015 graduate from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs and minor in History. While her primary portfolio includes defense, national security, and veteran’s affairs, it also includes homeland security, space, and science. Her Capitol Hill experience began as an intern for U.S. Representative Randy Forbes and prior to her current position she served as Congressman Byrne’s Legislative Correspondent and as Staff Assistant.

Phillip Waller

Press Secretary, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Phillip Waller serves as Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss. As Press Secretary, Phillip leads the Senator’s digital content creation efforts and serves as a point of contact for the state press corps. Phillip’s press portfolio includes the Senator’s Armed Services and Environment and Public Works committee work. Originally from Madison, Mississippi, Phillip has a master's in Media and Strategic Communication from the George Washington University and undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Public Policy from the University of Mississippi.

In addition to offering deeply researched, independent assessments of this subject matter, the CSBA Congressional Defense Seminar Series will provide a nonpartisan forum to staffers to build relationships and engage with subject matter experts on emerging trends in technology, the defense innovation base, and geopolitics. According to Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken, CSBA’s President and CEO, “This program is deliberately designed to help busy Hill staffers become better consumers of defense information and to help them command the core concerns of long-term strategy, the changing character of warfare, and evolving concepts of deterrence. We also hope to help engage and develop the next generation of defense policy leaders in an environment that is as socially engaging as it is intellectually demanding.”


About the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

CSBA is an independent, nonpartisan policy research institute established to promote innovative thinking and debate about national security strategy and investment options. CSBA’s assessments focus on key questions related to existing and emerging threats to U.S. national security, and its goal is to enable policymakers to make informed decisions on matters of strategy, security policy, and resource allocation. 

Media Contact:  William Bodie, 202-719-1358