Bundestag Staffers

Sven-Olaf Heckel
Deputy Press Spokesman
CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group

Sven-Olaf Heckel is a career civil servant in the Federal Ministry of Economics with special expertise in legislative procedures and the interaction of executive and legislative authorities. Heckel has thorough knowledge of press and public relations, with a particular focus on refugee and migration issues. Over the past year, he has focused primarily on refugees, migration and asylum policy. His other responsibilities within the CDU/CSU Parliamentary group include domestic, economic, energy, financial, budgetary, environmental and legal policy. Heckel is a lawyer and holds a Ph.D in the field of insolvency law.

Thomas Krause
Senior Economic Policy Adviser
Alliance 90/Greens Parliamentary Group

Thomas Krause is a senior adviser on economic policy for the Alliance 90/Greens Party in the Bundestag. In this role, he organizes all activities concerning economic policy and supervises the Economic Committee in the Bundestag on behalf of the Greens Group. His working priorities are digitalization, migration and trade issues — especially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Since 2013, Krause has been a lecturer in economic policy at the University of Applied Science in Berlin. He was born in the former German Democratic Republic. After unification, he studied business administration in Berlin and African politics in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Fabian Stremmel
Political Adviser
Office of Dagmar Schmidt, MdB (SPD)

Fabian Stremmel is a political adviser to Bundestag member Dagmar Schmidt and specializes in refugee and migrant issues. He studied Arabic and Islamic studies and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Damascus, Syria and at SOAS, University of London, where he earned a Ph.D. In 2013, Stremmel began working with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as an expert for migration and integration, Islamism, Jihadism, Salafism/Wahhabism, intercultural communication, and politically and religiously motivated extremism and fundamentalism.

Leonie von Vollard-Bockelberg
Policy Adviser
Office of Florian Hahn, MdB (CSU)

Leonie von Vollard-Bockelberg is a policy adviser and parliamentary assistant to Bundestag member Florian Hahn, who is the Christian Social Union (CSU) spokesman for European and foreign affairs, defense, development cooperation, human rights and humanitarian aid. Before joining Hahn’s office in September 2015, Von Vollard-Bockelberg worked for Bundestag member Tobias Zech (CSU), and supervised his work on the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development. In that capacity, she supported the work of the nongovernmental organization Orienthelfer e.V., which provides humanitarian assistance for victims of the conflict in Syria. In addition, von Vollard-Bockelberg teaches German to refugees at the Malteser refugee shelter in Neukölln, Berlin. She has degrees in governance and public policy from the University of Passau and international relations at the University of Bristol.

Martin Wilk
Foreign Policy Adviser
Office of Frithjof Schmidt, MdB (Alliance 90/The Greens)

Martin Wilk is senior policy adviser to Frithjof Schmidt, vice chair of the Green Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag. He works primarily on foreign and security policy, with a special focus on Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Prior to his role at the Bundestag, Wilk worked as an adviser at the Federal Board of the German Green Party and studied social science in Berlin, Lisbon and New York City (Columbia University). He holds an M.A. in social science and is currently a Ph.D candidate at the Europa-University Frankfurt/Oder. Wilk participated in the Munich Young Leaders Program of the Munich Security Conference 2016.

Congressional Staffers

Luke Burke
Senior Professional Staff Member
House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security

Luke Burke is a senior professional staff member on the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. He advises members of the committee on counterterrorism and intelligence issues and previously worked on the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, as well as the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee. Previously, Burke was a senior foreign policy analyst with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a concentration in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern studies, and holds a master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.

Gabrielle Gould
Policy Adviser and Counsel
Office of Congressman William R. Keating (D-MA)

Gabrielle Gould is policy adviser and counsel to Congressman William Keating, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. In this capacity, Gould covers legislative and policy work primarily focusing on foreign affairs and judiciary issues, including those related to national security, international development, immigration and civil rights. Gabrielle earned her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center and bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University.

Holly Idelson
Senior Counsel
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Holly Idelson serves as a senior counsel on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee within the Senate. Idelson is a senior adviser to Committee Ranking Member Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and handles immigration and border security issues. She joined the committee staff in 2001, and was a key staffer for legislation and oversight work creating the Department of Homeland Security and regarding overall homeland security policy. Prior to receiving her law degree she worked as a journalist for nine years, first at the Concord Monitor in Concord, NH and later as a correspondent for Congressional Quarterly’s Weekly Report. She has written extensively on immigration matters and other key policy issues, as well as covering political campaigns. Idelson also worked as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. She received her law and undergraduate degrees from Harvard University.

Satya Thallam
Chief Economist
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Satya Thallam is chief economist for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. In this role he is the committee’s principal adviser on regulatory process and reform, fiscal policy and economic analysis of oversight issues. He was previously director of financial services policy at the American Action Forum, deputy director for research and policy at the Law & Economics Center and Research Faculty at George Mason University School of Law. Prior to that he was founder and director of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Hernando de Soto Fellow, a research associate at the Mercatus Center, and acting director of fiscal policy at the Goldwater Institute. Thallam graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a degree in economics and completed his doctoral studies in economics at Emory University.

Jennifer Van der Heide
Chief of Staff
Office of Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA)

Jennifer Van der Heide has served as chief of staff for Representative Mike Honda, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, since his election to Congress in 2001. She has over 20 years of federal, state and Silicon Valley legislative, legal and policy experience, in both the public and private sector. Additionally, Van der Heide served as political director for Honda’s nine-year tenure as Democratic National Committee vice chair, and as chief strategist during his seven-year chairmanship of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Prior to her government service, Van der Heide represented indigent Native Americans at California Indian Legal Services, and then as tribal attorney for the Hoopa Valley tribe. She received her B.A. in international relations from Tufts University, focusing on international development; and a J.D. from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, with a focus on public interest law. She is a Senior Stennis Congressional Staff Fellow and a Women’s Executive Leadership Program Fellow.

European Parliament Staffers

Aleksandra Garlinska
Policy Adviser
Office of Danuta Hübner, MEP (Poland)

Aleksandra Garlinska was educated in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and China, and has worked in the European Parliament since 2006. Over the past 10 years, Garlinska has served as coordinator for human resources and personal development and as policy adviser to MEP Danuta Hübner, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO). Garlinska speaks Polish, German, French, Spanish and English fluently and is passionate about intercultural communication and European Union policies. In her free time she engages actively in debates on political challenges and the future of Europe with the European Movement and European Federalists.

Isabelle Montoya
Principal Administrator
Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)

Isabelle Montoya is principal administrator of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) of the European Parliament, where she is responsible for migration, counterterrorism, the European Neighborhood Policy and the Maghreb region. Prior to her current position, Montoya managed the secretariat of the Parliament Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and was also responsible for various bodies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. She also specializes in European affairs (law, political science and administration) and in communications policy.

Álvaro García Navarro
Migration and Asylum Affairs Adviser
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

Álvaro García Navarro is a jurist with extensive experience in EU affairs and migration. He has advised senior European and Spanish government officials, including the former Spanish vice president and minister of economy and finance, several members of the European Parliament, and the former EU ambassador to Israel. García Navarro works on policy and legislation related to EU economic and financial regulation, EU economic governance and compliance, and EU Justice and Home Affairs matters including migration and asylum issues. He has a master’s degree in human rights and democratization and a bachelor’s degree in European law, and is currently working toward a Ph.D in the field of human rights.

Gai Oren
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

Gai Oren began his career in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands, where he advised political decision makers on economic and financial issues and drafted parliamentary legislation on innovation policy, entrepreneurship and energy. For the past four years, Oren has been seconded to the European Parliament. He has worked for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) since 2012. In his current role, he is in charge of legislative and non-legislative activities in the fields of police cooperation, internal security, counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, online privacy and radicalization. Prior to joining the LIBE Committee, Oren worked in the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

Elisabetta Pietrobon
Policy Adviser
Secretariat of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense, Directorate-General for External Policies

Elisabetta Pietrobon is a lawyer trained in Italian law. She has worked in the European Union for over 17 years, in several positions within various institutions, including the European Court of Justice, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Although she has spent most of her career working on external relations – notably counterterrorism in foreign policy and security and defence – she has broad knowledge of other policy areas, including justice and home affairs, macroeconomics, and the EU institutional landscape and political dynamics. In her current position as policy adviser, Pietrobon is particularly interested in the link between internal and external security and issues such as counterterrorism and the security aspects of migration.