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Former Bush Staffers Helping Out With Trump’s Education Transition

By Alyson Klein — December 15, 2016 2 min read
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Former President George W. Bush and his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, didn’t endorse President-elect Donald Trump during this year’s campaign.

But some folks in edu-Washington who have worked for one Bush or the other are volunteering for—or at least advising—Trump’s education team, multiple sources say. (These advisors and the transition team did not respond to requests for confirmation. There’s a good reason for that: Trump transition officials have had to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep their work under wraps.)

These folks could just be helping the Trump team get up to speed on policy, choose staff, or brainstorm its early proposals. But some of them could also end up filling the ranks at the education department, which will need to hire 150 political apppointees.

Names we’ve heard include:

Josh Venable: Venable worked with former Gov. Jeb Bush at his non-profit education organization, the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Trump’s education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, sat on the board of that organization until recently. Bush, of course, is a prominent backer of the Common Core State Standards, and Trump wants to see the common core gone. DeVos has made it clear she’s not a supporter of the standards.

Lauren Maddox: Maddox served as the assistant secretary for communications and outreach at the Education Department under President George W. Bush. (That’s the job Matt Lehrich holds right now for President Barack Obama.) Before that, she worked on communications for House Republican leaders. Currently, she’s a principal at the Podesta Group, a government relations organization. (The organization was started by Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.) She’s said to be helping the education transition team with communications. (We haven’t gotten any press releases from her yet though.)

Terrell Halaksa: Halaksa worked as assistant secretary for legislative and congresssional affairs in the Education Department under President George W. Bush. Before that, she worked on education issues—including early-childhood education—for the White House Domestic Policy Council.

There are other Republicans said to be lending a hand to the transition on education issues, including Amy Jones, the director of education and human services policy at the House education committee. (She’s serving as the main point of contact between Team Trump and the education panel.) Also: Robert Enlow, the president of EdChoice, an advocacy organization. (Formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.) And we’ve got a separate list here of folks who have worked closely with DeVos.

And of course, Rob Goad, a staffer for Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., who worked on the Trump campaign, is said to be one of the leaders of the education transition. Towsend McNitt, who also served in the department under George W. Bush,also is helping introduce DeVos around the hill, per Politico.

Know of anyone else giving the transition a hand on education? Email us at or