OGR Expands Senate Capabilities with New Principal, Karissa Willhite

Ogilvy Government Relations announced today that Karissa Willhite has joined the firm as Principal. Willhite comes to Ogilvy from the office of U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., where she served as deputy chief of staff for policy.

“Simply put, Karissa is the best of best. She is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful and strategic minds on Capitol Hill and has provided trusted counsel to me in both the House and Senate for 15 years. Her deep policy understanding combined with the strength of her relationships in both chambers and both parties make her incredibly effective in moving the ball forward – against even the toughest challenges,” Senator Menendez said.

In her position with Senator Menendez, Karissa worked closely with the Senate Finance, Banking and Foreign Relations committees. Karissa also brings an in-depth knowledge of the changing role of the federal government in the delivery of healthcare.

With more than 20 years of experience in senior House and Senate policy positions, Willhite brings her insider’s knowledge of the workings of Congress to Ogilvy Government Relations. She has a reputation for getting things done, even in an increasingly partisan environment. Willhite worked on major pieces of legislation ranging from healthcare reform to immigration, including the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and Credit Card Reform. Willhite also served as a key strategic adviser on Iran sanctions, housing for people with disabilities, transit reauthorization, and the reinstatement of higher conforming mortgage loan limits.

“Karissa is adept at developing and executing legislative strategy,” said Ogilvy Principal Gordon Taylor. “She will round out our strength in the Senate and will bring a fresh perspective to our growing enterprise. We are really excited to have her on board.”

Willhite first advised then-Congressman Menendez as a senior legislative assistant, where she provided expertise on Social Security, healthcare, seniors, housing, veterans, telecommunications, energy, welfare, and women’s and children’s issues. She also served as staff director of the Democratic Caucus Health Care Task Force. As Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Menendez appointed Willhite deputy executive director and policy director of the Caucus. Willhite began her career on the Hill with Congressman Charles Stenholm (D-TX) before eventually moving on to become director of federal relations for the Texas Department of Health.

In addition to her policy experience, Willhite has also been active in campaigns such as Menendez for Senate, Obama for America, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“I am very excited to be joining one of the top lobbying firms in Washington,” Willhite said. “Health care and the economy are sure to be big issues before Congress in 2014, and I am eager to start working with Ogilvy’s extensive client base to ensure that their voices are heard in these debates.”

“In her time in the House and Senate, and in her work supporting many campaigns and the Democratic Party, Karissa has developed a strong network of relationships on Capitol Hill,” said Ogilvy Principal Moses Mercado. “Her insight and expertise will add great value to our team.”