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Doug Jones sworn-in, hires Democrats’ only black chief of staff in Senate

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Doug Jones on Wednesday was sworn-in as the Junior Senator from Alabama. The ceremony was held on the floor of the Senate in the United States Capitol. (Associated Press).

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

From left: Former vice-president Joe Biden; Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Senator Doug Jones, after Jones was sworn in. (Don Calloway photo).

Doug Jones on Wednesday was sworn-in as the Junior Senator from Alabama. The ceremony was held on the floor of the Senate in the United States Capitol.

“I am humbled and honored to stand here today, chosen by the people of Alabama to represent our state in this historic institution,” said Jones. “I will work every day to make sure I hear their voices and that their voices are heard in Washington. It is time to come together and rebuild the trust we need to find common ground and expand opportunity for all.”

Jones also has announced that he hired Birmingham native Dana Gresham as the Senate Democrats’ only black chief of staff.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in the new senator as per tradition.

Jones, 63, took the oath of office on a family Bible. He is now the 49th Democratic member of the Senate, tightening the Republicans’ majority to 51-49 and the first Democrat in 25 years to win a Senate seat in Alabama when he defeated Republican Roy Moore in the December 12 special election to fill the seat vacated nearly a year ago by current Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A large contingent from Birmingham and Alabama attended the ceremony including Congresswoman Terri Sewell; Mayor Randall Woodfin; former U.S. Attorney in Alabama Joyce Vance and Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels.

Prior to Jones’s swearing in Sewell was the lone Democrat in Alabama’s congressional delegation.

“Senator Doug Jones’ swearing in today was a historic landmark for Alabama voters,” said Sewell on Wednesday. “I am thrilled to have a new partner in the Senate who is ready to tackle the challenges facing our state. As a former U.S. Attorney, Senator Jones brings to Congress his experience fighting for the most vulnerable among us. On issues ranging from healthcare to job creation to tax reform, I am confident that Senator Jones will put the people of Alabama first.”

Woodfin said, “I was honored to be in Washington, D.C. today to witness the swearing in of Alabama’s newest senator, Doug Jones. I look forward to working with Senator Jones, Rep. Terri Sewell and the entire congressional delegation to make our city and state a better place for all citizens.”

Senior Staff Hires

Jones also this week announced the hiring of key senior staff positions including a legislative director, and a deputy legislative director.

“I’m proud to announce that we have recruited four outstanding individuals to join our team,” said Jones.  “Each of them possess long and impressive careers in public service, and as Alabama natives, share my commitment to the people of our state.”

Gresham is a product of the Birmingham public school system, graduating from A. H. Parker High School in 1989. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

He is a seasoned manager and federal policy and legislative affairs expert with over twenty-two years of experience in the Legislative and Executive Branches of the U.S. Government.

For the eight years of the Obama Administration, Gresham led the Legislative Affairs Office at the U.S. Department of Transportation where he served as the Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs. He was nominated for this position by Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in the spring of 2009.

In addition, Gresham has over 14 years of Capitol Hill experience. For 11 of his 14 years working on Capitol Hill, he served in senior staff positions within the Alabama Congressional Delegation.

“I know that Birmingham’s own Dana Gresham is a strong choice to lead Senator Jones’s team as Chief of Staff,” Sewell said. “Gresham ably served the people of the 7th Congressional District as Chief of Staff for five years, and I look forward to working with him in his new role with Senator Jones.”

Other senior hires for Jones included:

Legislative Director:  Mark Libell

Libell is a native of Florence. He is a graduate of Maryville College and received his JD from the University of Alabama School of Law and a Tax LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.
He previously served as Legislative Director to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. Since Senator Rockefeller’s retirement in 2014, Libell has been Assistant Congressional Liaison at the Federal Reserve Board. He has also worked for Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Representatives Bart Gordon of Tennessee and Linda Sanchez of California.

Transition Advisor:  Ann Bishop-Berry
Bishop-Berry is a native of Birmingham and graduate of J.H. Phillips High School and the University of North Alabama.

Bishop-Berry moved to Washington, DC to work for the late Senator Howell Heflin in 1979. Since the retirement of Senator Heflin, Ann has worked for Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Edwards, Tom Carper and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Patrick Leahy. She has a wealth of Capitol Hill experience and she and Jones worked together on the Heflin team.

Deputy Legislative Director:  Katie Campbell

Campbell is a native of Montevallo.  She graduated from the University of Alabama and earned a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Katie has experience having worked for members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, most recently handling health policy for Senator Joe Donnelly and serving as the policy director for the Blue Dog Coalition.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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