Thune Announces Staff Changes to Press Team

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today announced several staff changes on his Washington-based pressteam:

Chandler Smith has been named communications director for Thune’s leadership office, the Senate Republican Conference, starting May 11. Smith currently serves as vice president of government affairs communications at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). Prior to joining AH&LA, Smith served as communications director for Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in his official office and for his re-election campaign. She previously worked for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in his personal office and on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. She’s a graduate of Vanderbilt University.

“Chandler is a seasoned communicator who possesses the experience, judgment, and acumen to lead the communications strategy for the Senate Republican Conference,” said Thune. “She will be a terrific addition to our team, and we look forward to having her expertise in helping to communicate the Senate Republican agenda to the American people.” 

Ryan Wrasse, Thune’s national press secretary at the Senate Republican Conference, has been promoted to communications director for Thune’s personal office beginning May 18. Wrasse previously served as digital communications adviser, deputy press secretary, and floor monitor at the Senate Republican Conference under Thune and former Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Wrasse was an aide at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the George W. Bush administration after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

“Ryan has played an integral role at the Senate Republican Conference for the past several years, and I rely on his intelligence and insight as we work to bring our message to the American people,” said Thune. “I’m very pleased that he’s accepted this new role, and I know South Dakotans will benefit from his hard work and commitment. I welcome him to my personal office team.”

Rachel Millard, Thune’s outgoing communications director for his personal office, will soon be joining the private sector in Washington, D.C. Millard, a native of Chamberlain, South Dakota, and graduate of Creighton University, has worked for Thune for six years. She previously served as press secretary for Thune, internal communications adviser at the Senate Republican Conference, and legislative correspondent for Thune.

“South Dakotans have been well-served by Rachel during her years of service on my staff,” said Thune. “I’m thankful for her hard work, trusted advice, and dedication to the people of South Dakota. I wish her all the best with her new endeavor, and while she isn’t going far, she’ll be missed by all of us.”

Frederick Hill will continue to serve as communications director and Lauren Hammond will continue to serve as press secretary for Thune at the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.