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AUSTIN -- Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is adding key policy advisors to his Capitol staff in preparation for the legislative session that begins in January. These experienced and respected aides will help Speaker Straus and other Members of the House continue to address the state’s most serious challenges.

Heather Fleming will serve as Senior Health and Human Services Policy Advisor to the Speaker. Fleming comes to the Speaker’s office from the staff of the House Appropriations Committee, where she served as a budget analyst and focused on agencies related to health and human services. Before joining Appropriations, she was the longtime Chief of Staff to former Rep. Jim McReynolds. She is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.

“Heather’s depth of legislative experience and mastery of policy issues will allow her to make an immediate contribution to our team,” Speaker Straus said. “Members will find her to be a valuable resource on issues that directly affect millions of Texans.”

Fleming replaces Jennifer Deegan, who served on the Speaker’s staff from 2009 until earlier this month.

“Jennifer was one of the most respected members of our team and one of my most trusted advisors,” Speaker Straus said. “I will always be grateful for her incredible service to the House and to Texas.”

Erika Akpan will be Senior Business and Regulatory Affairs Advisor to the Speaker. She is a longtime aide to Sen. John Carona, serving most recently as his Legislative Director. She also worked as a Policy Analyst for the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, where she specialized in energy and telecommunications issues, and the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, where she specialized in public safety and homeland security. She is a graduate of Texas State University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

“Erika is a great fit to work on issues that are directly related to job creation and the success of the private sector,” Speaker Straus said. “Her knowledge and expertise will benefit the entire House at a very important time.”

Akpan replaces Dan Madru, who worked for Speaker Straus for two years.

“I’m grateful for the chance I had to work with Dan,” Speaker Straus said. “He has a strong command of public policy and the legislative process, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be extremely successful.”

Earlier this year, Speaker Straus hired Brady Franks as Senior Budget and Policy Advisor. Franks, who has worked on the staffs of the House Appropriations and Transportation committees, focuses on issues related to transportation and public safety. He is a graduate of UT-Austin. In addition, Victor Mendoza is joining the Speaker’s office as Policy Advisor and Counsel.

Jason Embry
Press Secretary
Office of Speaker Joe Straus
512-463-0223 (office)

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