So far, this has been a busy Congress for Oppenheim: As the HELP Committee’s education-policy director and counsel, he’s been swamped with the committee’s major bipartisan effort to fix No Child Left Behind for the first time in seven years.
Oppenheim has been Alexander’s lead education staffer since 2011. His job description includes overseeing the committee’s education team and advising the chairman on education and workforce development policy issues. His focus on education is broad and includes early-childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education, and career and technical education.
He says he got to where he is “through a combination of good luck, being in the right place at the right time, and seizing good opportunities.” Prior to working for Alexander, Oppenheim held multiple positions at the Carmen Group, a federal lobbying, government relations, and business consulting firm.
His Hill days date back to while he was in high school, when he interned for Rep. Connie Morella. Since then, he’s earned a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College, a law degree from American University, and a certificate in French culinary techniques from L’Academie de Cuisine.
Jeffries has outlived standard Capitol Hill turnover rates because he has always believed in his work, but his work on the HELP Committee has taken on particular personal significance since the birth of his three sons, the eldest of which is in kindergarten.
“I would really like to see the bill to fix No Child Left Behind signed into law this year. It’s important for the country, and it’s one of Alexander’s top priorities, so of course I want to see him and his committee succeed here—but I’m also a father of three young boys, so I guess good policy has become a little more personal,” Jeffries said.
When Jeffries interviewed for a job as Alexander’s press secretary nearly seven years ago, he was given a job description that has not changed much since then. The senator said he knew what he believed in and how to say it; he needed his press staff to make sure constituents and others know about those priorities and what he’s doing about them. Jeffries started working on the Hill as an intern with his hometown congressman, and although he never thought he would stay for longer than a year, that internship turned into a full-time job and then jobs in other congressional offices before he ended up with Alexander. He says he’s stuck around not only because he’s doing communications for a cause he cares about, but he also “just can’t help but really enjoy the debate” and political discussion.
Jeffries is from San Leandro, California, and has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Brigham Young University.
Labor Policy Director
Fortson has worked for the HELP Committee for 10 years and under three chairmen. Though eight of these years were spent in the minority, she also worked in the committee under Chairmen Judd Gregg and Mike Enzi, when Republicans were in the majority.