Alexander Names New Staff to Lead Senate Office

Posted on January 28, 2011

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced today that his chief of staff, David Morgenstern, will leave the Senate effective February 18th to pursue private interests.

Morgenstern will be succeeded as Alexander’s chief of staff by Matt Sonnesyn, currently Alexander’s legislative director and deputy staff director for policy at the Senate Republican Conference, which Alexander chairs.

David Cleary, currently Alexander’s staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families, will become Alexander’s new legislative director. 

Alexander said, “David has done a first-rate job, first as legislative director and then as chief of staff. I wish him the very best in his new opportunity. I’m fortunate that two current members of my staff are able to step into new leadership positions created as a result of David’s new opportunity.”

Morgenstern said, “This was a hard decision, but after spending the last decade in the Senate it’s time to return to the private sector. I’ve made a lot of friends in the Senate that I hope to keep--even after I surrender my staff I.D.”



Legislative director of Alexander’s Senate office since May 2009, and deputy staff director of the Senate Republican Conference since January 2008, Matt Sonnesyn has been Alexander’s top policy aide. Sonnesyn has worked for over nine years with Alexander, previously as legislative assistant during the senator’s chairmanship of the Africa subcommittee at the Foreign Relations Committee, and as senior advisor for development of the America COMPETES Act and legislation to implement the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations. He was policy director for Alexander’s 2002 Senate campaign and U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s 2006 campaign. Prior to that he served as Alexander’s graduate research assistant at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has also worked at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.  Sonnesyn holds a B.A. in international relations from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Republican Staff Director of Alexander’s HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families since February 2006, David Cleary has been Alexander’s principal advisor on education policy. Cleary previously served as a staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce under then-Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio), and as a legislative analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining Alexander’s staff, Cleary was the director of policy and research for the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind. Cleary earned a B.A. in Political Science and Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


David Morgenstern joined the Alexander staff as legislator director in 2005 and was promoted to chief of staff in May 2009. His nearly eleven years working in the Senate also includes serving as legislative assistant and counsel to Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) and legislative correspondent to Senator Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.). In addition to his Senate experience, Morgenstern was a litigation associate at Rudnick & Wolfe in Chicago and at Schmeltzer, Aptaker, & Shepard in Washington, D.C. Morgenstern graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, where he was a Neill James Blue Merit Scholar. 

Morgenstern said details of his future plans will be released soon.