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Harkin Names HELP Committee Team Leaders, New Investigation Unit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), today announced the selection of his team leaders for health, education and labor and the development of a new investigation unit for the Committee. 

“The opportunities before this Committee are limitless, but they center around the issues that touch the daily lives of all Americans – ensuring access to affordable, quality health care and a continued investment in recognized prevention and wellness efforts; that learners from birth through adulthood all get world-class educational opportunities; and that  workers have safe workplaces, that their retirement is secure and labor laws create possibilities for working families and the middle class,” said Chairman Harkin.  “With this team in place, the HELP Committee will achieve these goals and strengthen laws that benefit hardworking Americans and their families.”

Chairman Harkin announced the following staff appointments today:

Jenelle Krishnamoorthy will serve as Health Policy Director for the Committee.  A native Iowan, Jenelle first joined Chairman Harkin’s team as an AAAS Fellow in 2003 and 2004.  During that time Jenelle, along with her colleagues, wrote the HeLP America Act, which included a menu labeling provision that later inspired a provision in the health reform law.  During 2004 and 2005 Jenelle worked at the U.S. State Department on an AAAS Diplomacy Fellowship, but rejoined the Harkin office in January 2006 as the Senator’s lead health staffer.  Since that time, she has been the driving force behind efforts to invest in prevention and wellness, one of the Senator’s signature issues.

Trained as a licensed clinical psychologist, early in her career, Jenelle worked at Brown Medical School where she was part of The Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine and the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry and published in the areas of childhood obesity and tobacco issues.  While there, Jenelle did clinical work with kids and families that had chronic illnesses.  She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology/Biology from Randolph-Macon College, Masters of Science in Psychophysiology from the University of Tennessee, Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Residency and Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Clinical Psychology from Brown Medical School. 

She replaces David Bowen, who worked for the HELP Committee for 10 years.

Bethany Little will continue in her role serving as Chief Education Counsel for the Committee, responsible for legislation governing early childhood programs, elementary and secondary education, higher education and workforce training.  Prior to joining the Senate HELP Committee staff in March of 2009, she was Vice President for Policy and Federal Advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education where she led the Alliance's policy work on high school reform issues, including accountability and school improvement, adolescent literacy and college preparation.  Bethany came to the Alliance from the Children's Defense Fund, where, as Director of Government Relations, she managed advocacy efforts and provided policy direction. From 2001-2003,  Bethany worked in the office of United States Senator Patty Murray (WA) as a Legislative Assistant focused on education, welfare and children and families issues. Prior to that, she was Associate Director for the White House Domestic Policy Council serving as an education policy advisor to President Clinton and Vice President Gore. She has also held positions at the U.S. Department of Education, Council for Excellence in Government, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and Clinton/Gore '96.  She is a graduate of Georgetown University with a B.S. in Foreign Service.

Lauren McFerran
will serve as Labor and Pensions Policy Director for the Committee.  Lauren has been a member of the HELP Committee since 2005, previously serving as Senior Labor and Employment Counsel.  In her prior role, she developed policy and legislation in a broad range of areas, including labor-management relations, wage and hour law, work-family policy, immigration and pensions.  In her new role, Lauren will oversee the Committee’s Labor and Pensions team and be the primary liaison with the many constituencies interested in these important issues. 

Prior to joining the HELP Committee staff, Lauren was an attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, representing workers, labor unions and pension plans.  She clerked for the Honorable Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Houston, Texas, and is a graduate of Rice University and Yale Law School. 

Lauren replaces Portia Wu, who joined the National Partnership for Women and Families earlier this year.

Chairman Harkin also announced a new investigation unit:

“I have always believed that government has a role to play in standing up to powerful institutions that can forsake the interests of the American people in pursuit of their own,” continued Chairman Harkin.  “The new HELP Committee investigations unit will exist to play an active role in consumer protection and to make sure that public money is spent well rather than wasted or squandered through fraud.”

The new Investigations Unit will be led by Beth Stein who will serve as Chief Investigations Counsel for the HELP Committee.  Beth has been on Senator Harkin’s staff since 2004, serving first as counsel and then handling special projects.  Prior to that time, she was Judiciary Committee Counsel to Senator Maria Cantwell, and Election Counsel to Rep. Steny Hoyer.  Prior to those assignments, Beth served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, as well as the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, both chaired by then-Senator John Glenn.  In that capacity, Beth played a key role in the investigation into campaign finance abuses in the 1996 election and helped lead investigations into a variety of subjects including food safety, Medicare fraud waste and abuse and the relationship between thyroid cancer rates and exposure to nuclear fallout from Nevada testing in the 1940s.  Beth is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Hastings College of Law. 

Elizabeth Baylor will serve as Senior Investigator in this new unit.  Elizabeth served as Research Director for Obama for America in the Office of the Vice Presidential Nominee.  She has been the Research Director for a number of campaigns including Biden for President, Rendell for Governor and Wal-Mart Watch.  In addition, she held research positions at the DCCC, the 2004 Dean for America presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  Elizabeth started her career working in the Clinton White House, first as an intern and later as Associate Director of the Office of Communications Research.  She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.