Jim Cooper has made two new hires and bid farewell to two long-time staffers:
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper today announced several changes to his staff, including the retirements of two senior constituent liaisons in his Nashville office, Don Deering and Phil Ponder.
A former Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Tennessee, Deering has contributed nearly 40 years of military service as an officer and enlisted soldier. He is a member of the National Guard Association of Tennessee and the National Guard Association of the United States, where he serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Insurance Trust.
Ponder, a former Metro councilman and an acclaimed artist, is retiring after 10 years with Cooper to pursue opportunities in art. He has served as President of several community organizations, including the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce and Greenways for Nashville. He’s a member of numerous panels, including the Metro Planning Commission, Metro Parks Board and Military Officers Association of America Board.
“Due to their retirement, we are losing two Nashville giants from our staff: Don Deering and Phil Ponder,” Cooper said. “There are no more respected people in our community. We will miss their daily involvement but know that they will remain active!”
Cooper also welcomed two new hires in his Washington office.
Gabe Surratt has joined as Cooper’s new military legislative assistant. A Vanderbilt University graduate, Surratt was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan. He also served in Iraq and at the Pentagon. Surratt will assist with Cooper's responsibilities on the House Armed Services Committee.
Stephen Lee has filled the position of Department of Defense Fellow. A decorated Air Force veteran, Lee has held a number of positions at the Pentagon and served in Germany as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served in Guam in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Lee succeeds Cooper’s former Department of Defense Fellow, Tonia Walker, who has begun working in the Army House Liaison Division.
“I’m delighted to have Gabe and Stephen join my staff,” Cooper said. “They know the military inside and out, and they’re deeply committed to helping Middle Tennesseans.”