Brandon Yoder: Senior adviser, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Brandon Yoder faces a unique challenge as a Western Hemisphere policy adviser to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
“As a staffer, you always have to work extra hard to make sure you’re bringing value added to discussions with your boss,” Yoder said.
“And when your boss has 30 years of expertise working on a region, you’ve got to bring your A-game in order to have value added for someone that knows the region as intimately as Bob Menendez does.”
Yoder is one of four staffers who “get paid to wake up and think about the Western Hemisphere on a daily basis.”
Broadly, he’s part of a community of subject matter experts who regularly help craft key policies and legislation through their advisory work in Congress.
“The fascinating aspect of what we do in these roles is that we get to advise senior members of Congress at the intersection between politics, policy, and then the procedural aspects of what makes Congress work,” said Yoder.
Yoder came to Congress for this job — he was recruited in 2013 from the National Endowment for Democracy by Menendez, who was building a staff for his first stint as chairman of the powerful committee.
“Listen, I’m not gonna lie. These are grueling jobs, you know, highly demanding, [that] require exorbitant amounts and investments of time,” said Yoder.
But with that investment, Yoder said, comes a sense of tenure.
“Knowing the member’s priorities, strategic outlook, and then comfort level with certain issues, is something that develops over time. And ultimately it allows you to be more effective as a senior adviser.”