Peterson names new House ag aides, subcommittee staff directors
March 21, 2019
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today announced the names of new staff members he has hired and the promotion of two current aides as subcommittee staff directors.
"These qualified and motivated subject matter experts will help us expand our service to Americans in all communities," Peterson said in a news release.
"They will also provide key guidance and support as our six subcommittees conduct their important work on food and farm issues in the months to come. I look forward to great things from the committee with them on board."
The new staff members are:
▪ Melinda Cep, legislative and policy director — Cep returns to the committee, where she served as a fellow during the 2008 farm bill. She most recently served as senior director on the U.S. Markets and Food Team at the World Wildlife Fund.
During the Obama administration, Cep served in multiple roles at the Agriculture Department, including as deputy chief of staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack. She also served as policy and appropriations adviser to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
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Cep holds a bachelor's degree in animal and poultry sciences from Virginia Tech, and a doctor of veterinary medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
▪ Carlton Bridgeforth, a professional staff member — Bridgeforth most recently worked for the National Association of Conservation Districts.
He is a fifth-generation producer and partner in his family farm in Tanner, Ala. He also served as a board member in the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.
Previously, Bridgeforth worked as a compliance officer for Deutsche Bank in New York. He holds a bachelor's in finance from Morehouse College.
▪ Lyron Blum-Evitts, member relations coordinator — Blum-Evitts was previously the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee policy director, and worked as the legislative director for Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.
A native of Maine, Blum-Evitts is a graduate of St. Lawrence University.
▪ Mickeala Carter, outreach coordinator — Before oining the committee, she served as communications director and senior legislative assistant for Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas.
Carter grew up in DeSoto, Texas, and holds a degree in agricultural leadership and development from Texas A&M University.
▪ Jasmine Dickerson, staff director for the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee — Before joining the committee, Dickerson was the legislative director for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and also served as senior legislative representative for Feeding America.
A Cleveland native, Dickerson is a graduate of Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
▪ Brandon Honeycutt, staff director for the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee — Honeycutt has been an aide to Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and previously served in the Office of Congressional Relations at USDA under Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Honeycutt is from North Carolina, and holds a bachelor's in agricultural business management from North Carolina State University.
▪ Félix Muñiz Jr., staff director for the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee — Muñiz was a legislative assistant for Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio
Muñiz is an Ohio native and holds bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Bowling Green State University.
▪ Ashley Smith, staff director for the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee — Smith was the legislative director for Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., and previously worked as a legislative assistant with Florida Crystals
Smith is a native South Dakotan, and holds a degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.
Peterson also announced that staffer Mike Stranz will serve as staff director for the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, and that staffer Katie Zenk will serve as staff director for the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee as well as economist for the committee's majority staff.