Wicker Announces Commerce Committee Senior Staff

January 25, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced key staff roles on the committee. 

“Now that we have a senior team in place, we are redoubling our efforts to advance the agenda for the committee,” said Wicker. “This team has varied experience from the Senate, House leadership, as well as the private sector. They are well suited to help advance our agenda and pass legislation that will benefit not only Mississippi, but the entire country.” 

Wicker has tapped John Keast to be staff director. Keast brings over 30 years of government and private sector policy expertise to the Committee, including service as staff in the Virginia House of Delegates and at a non-profit think tank. He joined Wicker in the beginning of 1994 and served as Wicker’s Chief of Staff in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2006. Keast holds a political science degree from Radford University.

Crystal Tully has been named deputy staff director. Tully has led the Commerce Committee’s communications and technology policy team since September 2017. She served previously in the offices of Sen. Wicker and Sen. John E.Sununu, R-N.H. She has also worked in the private sector with stakeholders on communications issues, and held legal clerkships with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and the George Washington University Law School.

Steven Wall will serve the committee as General Counsel. Wall previously served on the House Committee on House Administration, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Agriculture Committee. In addition, he served in the offices of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.. He has also worked in the private sector in government relations and public policy consulting. Before beginning his career in Washington, Wall practiced law in Jackson, Mississippi. He received a Bachelor of Public Administration degree from the University of Mississippi, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, and a Master’s degree in European Politics from the University of Edinburgh.

Rick VanMeter, who has been Sen. Wicker’s communications director since April 2018, will also serve as the communications director of the committee. VanMeter is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, and brings more than a decade of experience working in Congress and political campaigns. He most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Communications Director for Congressman Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

Brianna Manzelli has been named deputy communications director of the committee. Manzelli has worked on the Commerce Committee’s communications team since July 2017. Previously, she was on the Republican National Committee’s communications team, as well as in the private sector. She is a graduate of Catholic University of America.

Rounding out Wicker’s leadership team on the committee are senior policy advisors Ellen BearesJames Mazol, and Olivia Trusty

Ellen Beares has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, and the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather. Beares has worked in the Senate for the past 20 years, 5 of which have been for Chairman Wicker handling Commerce Committee transportation, oceans, and science issues. Prior to working for Sen. Wicker, she served on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee handling the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. She graduated from Virginia Tech. 

James Mazol has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Security, and the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space. Mazol previously served as Sen. Wicker’s National Security Advisor covering the national defense, foreign policy, and space portfolios. Prior to joining Senator Wicker, he served as Legislative Director to then- U.S. Congressman Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., and as staff member on the House Armed Services Committee. 

Olivia Trusty has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Previously, Trusty handled telecommunications and technology issues for Sen. Wicker. Prior to joining Sen. Wicker, Trusty worked on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee and served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Bob Latta, R-Ohio. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree in American Government from Georgetown University.