Vilsack hires new chief of staff

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has tapped Karla Thieman to be his new chief of staff, replacing Brian Baenig, who left the department last month.

Thieman, who most recently served as USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden’s chief of staff, came to USDA in 2014 to work as a senior policy adviser to Vilsack

“Karla brings to this position strong leadership, sound judgement and a fierce passion for agriculture and rural America,” said Vilsack in a statement. “Karla also understands that USDA is helping to lead transformational change across the country in energy, nutrition, trade, research, conservation and in building a biobased economy from the ground up.”

Prior to coming to USDA, Thieman worked for the Senate Agriculture Committee for five years under Democratic leadership. At the committee, she worked on issues around livestock, food safety, dairy, energy and climate change. She has worked on the Senate campaigns for Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Montana and Michael Bennet of Colorado, as well as former Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). Thieman also worked on former Sen. John Edwards’ (D-N.C.) presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008.

Thieman holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She grew up on a cattle, corn and soybean farm in central Missouri.