Portman Names Pam Thiessen, Andy Dockham, Amanda Neely, Kirsten Madison & Emily Benavides to Senior Roles at Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

January 5, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who is expected to be the top Republican at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), announced that his senior HSGAC leadership team will include Pam Thiessen as Staff Director, Andy Dockham as Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director, Amanda Neely as Director of Governmental Affairs and General Counsel to Senator Portman, Kirsten Madison as Director of Homeland Security, and Emily Benavides as Communications Director.

“Pam is a great friend and trusted confidant, and I look forward to her leading our team at HSGAC,” said Portman. “I’m grateful for her loyal service over the past decade. She has been instrumental in our biggest legislative victories, whether it was passing tax reform, addressing the addiction crisis, combating online sex trafficking, and much more. I look forward to her leadership as Staff Director at HSGAC in the next Congress.”

Thiessen takes on the Staff Director role after serving in senior positions in the Senate for nearly 25 years, including Staff Director of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Senior Policy Advisor at the Joint Economic Committee and Portman’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director.

“Andy has led a team at PSI that built an incredible record of accomplishment through hard-hitting bipartisan investigations,” 
said Portman.  “He is a highly respected investigative professional and his knowledge and years of experience at HSGAC will serve our team well. I’m pleased that he will serve as my Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director.” 

Dockham takes on the Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director role after serving as Portman’s Staff Director at the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for four years. He previously served as Minority Chief Counsel to Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as General Counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Dockham began his career on Capitol Hill more than a decade ago as Minority Counsel to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Before moving to Capitol Hill, Dockham worked at a law firm in Washington, D.C.

“Amanda has led thoughtful PSI investigations to hold federal agencies accountable over the past four years and her oversight expertise will be invaluable as she takes on the Director of Governmental Affairs role at HSGAC,” said Portman.  “I look forward to her leadership of the Governmental Affairs team at HSGAC and I’m pleased that she will continue to serve as my General Counsel.” 

Neely takes on the Director of Governmental Affairs and General Counsel to Senator Portman role after serving as Senator Portman’s General Counsel and Deputy Chief Counsel at the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for four years. She previously served as Oversight Counsel to the House Committee on Ways and Means, Deputy General Counsel during Senator Cotton’s 2014 campaign, and Law Clerk to then-Chief Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, as well as serving in the private sector.

“I am pleased that Kirsten is joining our team as the Director of Homeland Security,” said Portman. “Her excellent reputation and wealth of experience on Capitol Hill, as well as in the Executive Branch, will be a great asset to the HSGAC team.”

Madison most recently served as the Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) responsible for State Department programs combating illicit drugs and organized crime, as well as support for law enforcement and rule of law. She has also served in senior leadership positions at the White House, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States.

“Emily Benavides is a talented communications professional and brings a wealth of experience and an unique perspective to this new role,” said Portman.  “An Ohio native of Mexican-American descent, Emily has been a critical member of my team for nearly five years. I’ve come to rely on her guidance and counsel, and I’m pleased she will serve as Communications Director at HSGAC.” 

Benavides has served on Portman’s staff for nearly five years, most recently as Communications Director. She previously served as Jeb Bush’s Traveling Press Secretary during the 2016 presidential campaign, Communications Director for former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s re-election campaign, and also served on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign in addition to various other political communications roles. She is a Perrysburg, Ohio native.