AND THEN, VENN. Jim Ray, who is joining Venn Strategies, LLC, as senior adviser, had a hand in many of the "hot and heavy" issues that characterized the waning days of the Bush administration. When he was named strategic counsel for the OMB in late 2008, Ray was confronted with a tanking economy and a paralyzed banking industry. "So many things were happening at that particular time," says Ray, including development of the stimulus package and the Troubled Asset Relief Program. "And, I have to tell you, in many ways it was one of the most educational opportunities of my life so far." At Venn Strategies, Ray will focus on matters related to infrastructure, an area of expertise he honed at the Transportation Department, including a stint as acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. When the ceiling of Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel Project, also known as the "Big Dig," collapsed in July 2006, Ray was dispatched to Massachusetts to coordinate the investigation. Ray, 36, grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C., and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in history in 1996. Soon after college, he volunteered for the re-election campaign of then-Rep. Richard Burr, R-N.C., before joining his staff on Capitol Hill. Ray received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2001.
PORK LIFT. As the National Pork Producers Council's new director of government relations, Chelsie Redalen will track the pork industry's progress on a range of legislative issues, including food safety and animal health. She has worked as NPPC's deputy director of government relations, working to raise money for members of the organization's PAC. A native of Minnesota and a longtime farmer, Redalen studied applied economics at the University of Minnesota and found her way to Washington through an internship with Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. Working on agricultural issues, she was shocked to find how little lawmakers understood about American farmers. "American agriculture could really have a large voice, and could really be more involved in education efforts on the Hill," she says. The pork industry, she says, is primed to take a more central space in Washington. "I'm very proud of the people I work for," she says. "They are very inspiring. They are very hard working, sophisticated people, to be able to make it today in farming. To be able to relay that... to staff and members on Capitol Hill will be very exciting."
This article appears in the June 26, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily.