Emily joined the Garamendi office in 2011 and now serves as Chief of Staff, coordinating the Congressman’s policy initiatives from the Washington, DC office to best serve the people of California’s third district. She is a cum laude honors graduate of Kenyon College, where she earned a BA in Sociology and Psychology and directed a program to coordinate the college’s community service projects in the surrounding counties. She has worked in law, financial services, and with hundreds of small businesses, studying how business owners thrive in and contribute to their surrounding communities. She has also worked in Kenya, where she helped the Kenyan Wildlife Service with community development, fisheries management, and sustainable agriculture initiatives. She was named Legislative Staffperson of the Year in 2015 by the Professional Engineers in California Government and has completed fellowships at the New Leaders Council and the Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Center, focusing on policy, advocacy, entrepreneurship, community revitalization, and leadership.
Garrett Durst, Legislative Director & Deputy Chief of Staff
Garrett was born and raised in Woodland, California where he grew up working on his family’s farm. He attended Arizona State University where he received his BA in Sustainability and a minor in Justice Studies. Following college, he continued his career in agriculture, working for Tanimura and Antle, a produce grower/shipper in the Salinas Valley. He then returned to Woodland to help manage the family farm prior to joining Congressman Garamendi's staff in Washington, D.C. Garrett oversees the Congressman’s legislative agenda and specializes in water, flood control, agriculture and environmental issues.
John Evalle, District Director
John was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he entered the Air Force in November 1984 as a Civil Engineer Engineering Assistant. He served 30 years and rose to lead in multiple positions at the squadron, group, wing, and MAJCOM levels and retired in December 2014 as the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in the 3rd District. During his military service, John served in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as well as operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, and South Korea. John is married and has a son and a daughter and upon retirement from the Air Force joined the Congressman's staff to focus on supporting the Military and Veteran communities before assuming his current position as District Director.
Debbi Orta-Gibbs, Deputy District Director
As Deputy District Director, Debbi serves as liaison between local elected representatives, constituent services, business and D.C., while monitoring the local district issues and work flow. Her primary policy areas include congressional representation at events, government relations, education, seniors, women, healthcare, labor, and tribal relations. Debbi has a 15-year work history with John Garamendi including transitioning to Washington, DC in 2009. She also held positions on his executive staff in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor 2007-2009, and California Department of Insurance 2003-2007. Prior to her joining his congressional team, Debbi dedicated over 30years of public service to the State of California serving in various positions, including a position on the executive staff with the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency. Debbi resides in Elk Grove, CA with her family.
Washington, D.C. Office
Dante Atkins, Communications Director
A proud Angeleno, Press Secretary Dante Atkins graduated summa cum laude with highest honors from UCLA, where he majored in classical linguistics. After college, Dante turned his attention from the academic world to political and communications consulting. In these roles, Dante has served as campaign manager for multiple statewide campaigns in California and advised many high-profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies, major labor unions, and California’s health insurance exchange.
Dante is a founding boardmember of the Los Angeles chapter of New Leaders Council, and is proud to be a Political Partner with the Truman National Security Project. Dante speaks several languages, including Spanish, French and German. He joined Congressman Garamendi’s staff in June of 2015.
Bradley Bottoms, Senior Policy Advisor
Bradley Bottoms was born and raised in Pacifica, California. He graduated from the University of California, Davis where he studied Sociology Organizational Studies and Political Science Public service while conducting research on workforce development and the political process. In Davis, Bradley served in many positions including the Student Body Vice President and the Chair of the City of Davis Student-City Liaison Commission. After graduation Bradley interned with Congressman Garamendi in his Washington office before accepting a fulltime staff position in 2014. Today, Bradley primarily helps the Congressman drive his domestic policy agenda. In his free time he serves on the board of the DC chapter of the UC Davis Alumni Chapter, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Hill Advisory Board, and participates in the District of Columbia Dems.
Melanie Bryant, Constituent Outreach & Legislative Aide, Legislative Assistant and Legislative Correspondent
Melanie was born in Washington, D.C and raised in Maryland. She graduated from Ithaca College where she received her BS in Applied-Psychology and a minor in Counseling (Sociology). While in school, Melanie participated in Ithaca College’s Psychology Department Research team during her sophomore and junior years where she conducted research on media effects and the effectiveness of media literacy on television as it relates to social and cognitive development in children and pre-teens. As a student, Melanie also worked with the Tompkins county Department of Social Services and the District Attorney of Ithaca as a class instructor for individuals seeking healthier living habits to support their sobriety. When not in school, Melanie spent her summers shadowing and volunteering at major hospitals such as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children’s Center in Baltimore, MD and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA where her passion and knowledge of health science and mental health treatment grew tremendously.
After graduating, Melanie briefly interned in Congressman Garamendi’s Washington office before accepting a position as Constituent Outreach & Legislative Aide. She is very eager to be an effective member of the D.C. staff and working with the Women, Family, and Children and Healthcare staff on issues that she cares deeply about.
Matt Clarkston, Legislative Assistant and Legislative Correspondent
Matt Clarkston grew up in southern Illinois in a suburb of St. Louis. He attended Northwestern University, where he double majored in Economics and Political Science, and was also active in Greek life and student government. He pursued several opportunities to work on campaigns and in state government while in college, cultivating a passion for politics and public service. After graduating, he interned in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Garamendi before later accepting a staff position.
Stephanie Harley, Military Fellow
Stephanie is an Air Force Officer serving as a Defense Fellow. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a BS in Physics followed by a MSPH degree in Health Physics for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. As a Bioenvironmental Engineer, she served as an occupational and environmental health expert at multiple bases in the United States, Belize, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Stephanie and her spouse Colin, an Air Force UH-1 helicopter pilot, enjoy life in DC with their four-year old son.
Jennifer Lee, Scheduler & Deputy Press Secretary
Jennifer Lee was born and raised in San Francisco, California where she spent much of her time competing in sports and volunteering for the de Young Museum and other local organizations. She attended the University of California, Davis where she double majored in Political Science and Communication and interned in Congressman Garamendi’s Davis District Office. Following college she continued her career in public relations working for a local start-up before rejoining Congressman Garamendi’s staff.
Betsy Thompson, Military Legislative Assistant
Betsy grew up in rural Minnesota. She attended Pepperdine University, where she received a degree in International Studies and was an active member of the music program, playing on a percussion scholarship. For her entire sophomore year, Betsy studied abroad in Florence, Italy, learning the local language and culture. The following spring, she also participated in Pepperdine’s East Africa program, traveling to Jinja, Uganda, and Kigale, Rwanda. Upon graduation, Betsy moved to Washington, D.C. and interned in Congressman Garamendi’s office before accepting a full-time position. She now serves as the Congressman’s Military Legislative Assistant, working primarily on defense and foreign affairs issues. She also handles the Congressman’s leadership positions on the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus, Ethiopian-American Caucus, and Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconaissance Caucus.
Eric Olsen, Press Secretary & Legislative Assistant
Eric was born in Ojai, California, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Political Science and Communication. Prior to joining Congressman Garamendi’s staff, Eric served as Research Lead for a joint study sanctioned by the UC Davis Communication and Political Science departments to analyze America’s stature abroad. During his time rebuilding plumbing systems in untouchable villages throughout India, Eric acquired a passion for public service that he now pursues through his work on Congressman Garamendi’s district staff.
Jack Batchelor, Senior Field Representative
Jack Batchelor was first elected to the Dixon City Council in 2006. In 2008, he was elected Mayor City of Dixon and served 8 years in this capacity. During his tenure as mayor, Jack served on several regional boards such as the Solano Transportation Authority, Solano Economic Development Corporation, Solano County LAFCO, Yolo/Solano Air Quality Board, Capital Corridor JPA, and Association of Bay Area Government Executive Board. Jack earned his BA degree from Chico State University and MS degree from San Francisco State University.
Mary Jane Griego, Senior Field Representative
Mary Jane Griego has helped run her family’s small business since she moved to Yuba County in the 1960s. A graduate of Marysville High School and Yuba College, she has spent her life focused on charitable work helping children, seniors, and veterans. She served as a Yuba County Supervisor from 2000-2016. During her tenure, flood control was a major priority of hers. She founded the River Levee Improvement Authority and served as Chair until January 2017. This worked helped create what is arguably the best levee system in the state in South Yuba County. She also served on the Yuba County Water Agency, California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (CALAFCO) Executive Board, Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), California Council of Governments, Feather River Air Quality, Yuba LAFCO, First 5 Yuba Commission, and Honorary Vice Chair of the Metro Chamber Capitol to Capitol (2016). Most recently she was appointed to the Board of Directors for Olivehurst Public Utility District (OPUD) serving on the Water/Waste Water Committee.
Jacqueline Hartsough, Constituent Services Representative
Jacqueline Hartsough was born and raised in Davis, California where she was active in several extracurricular clubs at her high school and volunteered teaching Sunday School at her church. She went on to graduate from the University California, Santa Barbara where she earned a BA in Political Science with an emphasis in American Politics. Following graduation, Jacqueline returned to Davis where she began working as a substitute teacher in the Davis School District before joining Congressman Garamendi’s district staff.
Angel Melchor, Field Representative
Raised in the farm-working community of Salinas in Monterey County, Angel Melchor understood the importance of public service and community engagement. At Cypress College, he was elected into the Student Body Senate and cofounded the Coalition for Latino Advancement, which established the second AB540 scholarship for undocumented students in the State. At Cal State Fullerton, Angel searched for a deeper understanding of political narratives and micro-politics. He took interest in international politics and the United Nations. He represented Fullerton as a delegate at the prestigious New York University and Harvard Model United Nations Conference. Angel has over 10 years of political consulting and campaign management experience for statewide, countywide, and local elections. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Yolo County Democratic Central Committee and is a graduated fellow from the New Leaders Council-Sacramento. Angel serves as the District Representative for Congressman John Garamendi’s Davis district office.
John Nicoletti, Senior Field Representative
John Nicoletti has long been a fixture in Yuba County. A volunteer member of the Kiwanis Club of Marysville, Linda Lions Club, Marysville Elks Lodge, Friends of the Bok Kai Temple, Mary Aaron Museum Association, Yuba County Historical Society, and his local church, he currently serves as Deputy Director of Public Relations for Habitat for Humanity Yuba Sutter. A former Yuba County Supervisor, Nicoletti served on two dozen boards and commissions, including the Yuba Sutter Economic Development Corporation Board, Marysville Levee Commission, Peach Tree Health, and Yuba County Water Agency. As a Supervisor and private citizen, ending homelessness and poverty in the region has been one of his greatest priorities. Having experienced three major evacuations, Nicoletti understands the important role Congress plays in funding lifesaving levees.
Kiana Okhovat, Constituent Service Representative
Kiana is a native to Hamburg, Germany and moved to northern California in 2001. As a youth, she was a competitive pianist and performed her first solo at the Mondavi Center at the age of 12, and two years later she returned to perform Beethoven’s third piano concerto, accompanied by the Sacramento State Symphony Orchestra. Kiana attended the University of California, Davis, where she majored in Political Science – Public Service with a focus on foreign and public policy. She was a very active student, including volunteering with the United Nations Association, working on political campaigns and in several political offices, and founding UC Davis’ premier humanitarian student organization, in response to the Syrian refugee crisis where she helped raise several thousand dollars for the UN Refugee Agency. Kiana also wrote a research paper about the ties between homelessness and human sex trafficking in California that was recognized by the Midwest Political Science Association. Kiana completed her university studies in December of 2016, two years early, while studying abroad at the London School of Economics, and is a proud member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the nation’s largest leadership honor society.