Feb 9 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) today announced key legislative staff hires, including Legislative Director Katy French Talento and Senior Advisor Robert Wilkie.

“I’m excited to have a tremendously qualified legislative team that has expertise in a wide range of policy issues,” said Senator Tillis. “Whether it is working on commonsense solutions that make Washington more accountable to hardworking taxpayers or promoting a more robust foreign policy that keeps our nation safe and secure, our legislative team will help play a critical role in advancing the priorities of North Carolina.”

Katy French Talento – Legislative Director: Talento returns to the Senate from the private sector, where she was most recently the Vice President for Corporate Affairs at MosquitoZone International, a firm providing malaria protection to the workforce of energy companies in Africa and Asia. Talento was previously the Republican Deputy Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  She has also served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), and as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, advising Chairman and Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) on public health issues. Talento holds a Master of Science degree in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia.

Robert Wilkie – Senior Advisor: Wilkie served as Assistant Secretary of Defense under Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. He also served as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs and as Senior Director of the National Security Council under Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Wilkie is a reserve officer assigned to the Headquarters of the United States Air Force. Prior to joining the Air Force, Wilkie served in the United States Navy Reserve with Naval Special Warfare Group Two and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Wilkie is a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff, Air Command and Staff College, the United States Army War College, and the Joint Forces Staff College. He is the recipient of the Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian award of the Department. Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, holds a Juris Doctor from Loyola University of New Orleans, a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University, a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and an Honors degree in Politics from Wake Forest University. 

Courtney Temple – Legislative Assistant: Temple returns to Capitol Hill after working as the Director of Government Relations at the U.S. Travel Association, where she focused on issues relating to traveler visa reform, the TSA screening process, and the Terrorism Risk Insurance program. Temple previously served as the Legislative Director for Representative Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and as a Senior Legislative Assistant for former Representative Steve Austria (R-OH-7). Temple holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Akron with emphasis on International Relations and holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and International Studies from The Ohio State University.

Joe Nolan – Legislative Assistant: Nolan previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Education Policy Advisor for Senator Tillis during his tenure as North Carolina House Speaker. Nolan advised Tillis on education and budget issues, and developed legislative policy strategies for the Speaker and Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Nolan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Media from North Carolina State University.

Luke Blanchat – Special Advisor: Blanchat will be advising Senator Tillis on a variety of legislative issues. Blanchat served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign, where he helped manage operations and logistics and led policy research efforts. A native of Hickory, North Carolina, Blanchat holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.

Chad Rhoades – Legislative Correspondent: Rhoades most recently worked as Counsel to the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee, where he advised the Committee on legal policy issues and prepared briefs on statutory and constitutional law issues. Rhoades also served as a Legal Research Assistant for Senator Tillis in the North Carolina House Speaker’s Office. A native of Clemmons, North Carolina, Rhoades holds a Juris Doctor from Campbell University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from North Carolina State University.