Prior to his work on the Hill, Marin worked at government relations firms and at the American Society for Engineering Education. He received a bachelor’s in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Director of Operations
It’s hard to name a professional sector where Smith hasn’t worked. She spent time in local government. She worked in the private sector. She started her own business, worked at a nonprofit, and practiced law, and after all that, came to work in Lamar Smith’s personal office in 2011.
She started as his scheduler, moving her way up to legislative assistant and then to being the committee’s director of operations, a job in which she has a litany of responsibilities. Smith's job, as she puts it, is to “keep everyone upright, from the chairman on down.” She helps oversee the operations of more than 45 staff, solves problems when they arise, and more—all while focusing on the larger picture.
Smith also manages special projects for the chairman. She helped with the renovations and technology upgrades for the committee’s hearing rooms. She traveled to Antarctica for a 10-day codel she helped plan and lead for 10 lawmakers.
Traveling isn’t new for Smith: She’s worked in D.C., Chicago, and China after majoring in finance and receiving her juris doctor from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a master’s in child and family law from Loyola University Chicago. Smith also traveled across Scandinavia and Russia by herself.
Space is a recurring theme on Shank’s resume.
In the summer of 1995, he was in Stockholm, Sweden, attending an eight-week summer session at the International Space University, where he contributed to a chapter on defending the earth from asteroids for a student project. That fall, Shank began a master’s in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado. He has a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame.
Shank was in the Air Force for 11 years, and he spent part of that time working on GPS for Air Force Space Command and also at the National Reconnaissance Office. He then spent four years on the Science Committee before turning to work for NASA as strategic-investments director; he was also charged with directing the agency’s legislative, public affairs, and education initiatives. But after working at NASA, and other space- and science-related gigs, Shank returned to Capitol Hill in 2011, and he served as Rep. Smith’s deputy chief of staff.
Now he is the committee’s coalitions director, meaning he creates coalitions of members and stakeholders to push for the committee’s policy initiatives. He says his goal is to work with the scientific community to support and advance the panel’s legislative agenda.
Shank has been to roughly five space-shuttle and four unmanned-rocket launches. At one such launch, he says, his father-in-law told Star Wars creator George Lucas that Shank and his wife—who were expecting a child—were going to name their daughter Princess Leia. (They named her Elizabeth.)