Sen. Kaine announces staff additions

kaine new2U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine today announced additional members of his Virginia and Washington, D.C.,-based Senate staff.

“I’m proud to announce such a talented and diverse set of individuals have joined my Senate team,” Kaine said. “John Knapp and his team bring years of experience as well as a deep understanding of the Commonwealth to our operation that will serve Virginia well. And in Washington, this team of policy experts is already hard at work helping me navigate a wide array of important issues affecting Virginians. This entire team is driven by a strong commitment to public service and I’m so pleased to have them on board.”


Virginia-based staff:

John Knapp, State Director – John joins Senator Kaine’s team after recently retiring from a 29 year business career at Verizon that spanned a wide variety of functions including government and regulatory affairs, engineering, operations, and public affairs.  In addition, John retired in 2005 as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Virginia Army National Guard after a 24 year career which included commanding a combat engineer battalion.  He has devoted significant time to service on non-profit and government boards and commissions.  John lives in the Ginter Park area of the City of Richmond with his wife Fay and son Johnny.

Keren Charles Dongo, Deputy State Director – Keren was most recently director of the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, which worked to elect Tim Kaine to the Senate, re-elect President Barack Obama and elect Democratic congressional members to the House.  In addition to serving as deputy field director at the ONE Campaign,  Keren brings extensive Virginia experience having served as an adviser to U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Outreach and Political Director of the 2008 Democratic Coordinated Campaign.

Laura Blevins, Regional Director (Southwest Virginia) – Laura most recently served as the Southwest and Southside Virginia Regional Field Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Coordinated Campaign.  Prior to joining the Coordinated Campaign, she worked as Director of Outreach and Special Projects for Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation.  Laura spent 22 years with former Congressman Rick Boucher’s 9th District operation , including as Boucher’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  Laura has been involved in numerous civic and non-profit organizations including the Town of Abingdon Economic Development Authority, the Virginia Broadband Advisory Council, and the Virginia Highlands Community College Board.

Tyee Davenport, Regional Director (Central Virginia) – Tyee most recently served as Political Director to Tim Kaine’s Senate campaign.  Prior to the Kaine campaign, Tyee served in roles for the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) from 2010 to 2011, with Wagner for Lt. Governor in 2009 and at the DPVA Coordinated Campaign in 2008. Tyee also brings eight years of private sector experience in a Fortune 500 logistics company. Her work included extensive involvement with community and civic organizations in the Richmond region.

Jose “Joe” Montano, Regional Director (Northern Virginia) – For the past eight years, Joe has worked in electoral politics, including stints with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Party of Virginia. He served as the Outer Northern Virginia Political Director for Senator Kaine’s campaign. Prior to campaign work, he served as the National Vice Chair of the Filipino Civil Rights Advocates and the Executive Director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, where he worked primarily on civil rights, veterans’ equity and immigration reform advocacy. In 2009, Governor Tim Kaine appointed him to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board. He originally hails from Norfolk, VA and is a graduate of The George Washington University.

Andrea Trotter , Regional Director (Eastern Virginia) – Andrea served as a Constituent Service Representative for U.S. Senator Jim Webb’s Hampton Roads office from 2007 to 2013.  Andrea previously worked for the Senate of Virginia as Legislative Aide to Virginia Senator Yvonne B. Miller. Prior to her legislative branch service, Andrea worked as a Court-appointed Mediator and served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 14 years. Andrea is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.


Washington, D.C.-based staff:

Sergio Aguirre, Legislative Assistant (Foreign Policy) – Sergio is a Brookings Institution Fellow from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy.  Prior to joining Senator Kaine’s legislative team, Sergio was the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Michele Flournoy and then Jim Miller).  Prior to that, Sergio worked for two years on the National Security Council Staff at the White House in the Middle East and North Africa office, focusing on the transitions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and working on U.S. policy toward Jordan, Algeria, and Morocco.  Before his time at the White House, Sergio spent three years in the Middle East policy office at the Pentagon, participated in a short rotation to the State Department on the Colombia desk, and has experience working for the Air Force on international space research and development agreements.  Sergio is a graduate of Georgia Tech.

Nick Barbash, Legislative Assistant (Energy and the Environment) – Nick served as legislative aide for the last four years in Senator Herb Kohl’s office, handling primarily energy and environment issues.  Previously he worked on the Balkans program at the National Democratic Institute and interned for the House Rules Committee and People for the American Way.  Nick is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and an M.S. candidate at Johns Hopkins University.

Karen Courington, Legislative Assistant (Military and Defense) – Karen joins Senator Kaine’s staff after a year on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. As a Presidential Management Fellow, Karen also served in the immediate office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, at the White House Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek, Namibia, and for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans. Karen has been an advocate for veterans and spearheaded Deutsche Bank’s Veterans on Wall Street program. She is a Major in the Air Force Reserve and served on active duty as a C-17 pilot. Karen is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University.

Maribel Ramos, Legislative Assistant (Education, Health, Immigration) – Maribel is a veteran of Virginia politics and most recently served in Senator Jim Webb’s policy office in D.C. working on education, health, immigration, women and children’s issues.  She previously served as Assistant to the Governor for Policy in Kaine’s gubernatorial administration.  Maribel began her career in Virginia politics in 2002 in Governor Warner’s administration working in his Constituent Services office and serving as the first Latino Liaison in the Governor’s office.   She has also worked in the public policy office of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Maribel is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ron Storhaug, Legislative Assistant (Budget) – Ron Storhaug joins Senator Kaine’s office as a Legislative Assistant handling a portfolio of issues including budget, financial services, tax, and social security. Most recently Ron was employed at Deloitte & Touche LLP where he was an Enterprise Risk Management Consultant deployed on federal and commercial consulting engagements around the country. Prior to that he was on staff at the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget under Senator Kent Conrad where he focused on economic issues. Ron is a graduate of North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

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