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News Release

Release No. 0152.09
Office of Communications (202)720-4623

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WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the names of additional people who will hold top staff positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.

"These individuals bring the USDA a wide breadth of experience that will help realize the President's goals for a safe, sustainable and nutritious food supply while working to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers throughout the country," said Vilsack.


Justin DeJong - Deputy Press Secretary. A native of Iowa, DeJong has served in numerous communications roles in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, he served as Illinois Director of Communications for the Obama campaign and as Director of Communications at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Previously, DeJong served as a spokesperson for several state agencies in Illinois government including the Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Central Management Services, as well as the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. He has also worked at Chicago-based Peoples Energy, Jasculca-Terman and Associates, and Mayor Richard M. Daley's Press Office. DeJong earned his B.A. in public relations from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.


Carol Clifford - Senior Advisor for Labor Affairs. Clifford has spent her career as a specialist in labor and employment law and policy. A member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, she has most recently served as a consultant and independent contractor specializing on labor and immigration matters. Before that, Clifford practiced law for over 17 years as Assistant General Counsel for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and was adjunct faculty at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies - now the National Labor College - in Silver Spring, Maryland. Clifford received her J.D. from Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and her B.A. in political science from the University of California, Riverside.

Erin Hannigan - Staff Assistant. Hannigan most recently served as an Associate for the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Previously she worked on the Obama campaign in Iowa and interned in the Moline, Ill., Senate office for U.S. Senator Barack Obama. A native of Orland Park, Ill., Hannigan graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, with a B.A. in History, Political Science, and Public Administration.