The Justice Departmentâ€™s Office of Public Affairs is undergoing some personnel changes in the sophomore year of the Obama administration.
Melissa Schwartz, who handled communications for several DOJ components including the U.S. Attorneysâ€™ offices and the Office of the Associate Attorney General, left the Justice Department last week. Schwartz moved to the newly established Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement at the Interior Department. She started in her new position as the communications director for the bureau on Monday.
Schwartz, who previously worked as a spokeswoman for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), said in an email to colleagues that the opportunity at Bureau of Ocean Energy, headed by former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich, was tremendous and humbling, and she was sad to be leaving the Justice Department so soon.
Andy Ames also left DOJ last week to take a job as a spokesman for the FBIâ€™s Washington Field Office. Ames had been with the Justice Department for five years and handled communications for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Most recently, Ames managed much of the Justice Departmentâ€™s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Iâ€™m looking forward to the new opportunity and the new challenges,” Ames said. “I will miss working closely with the great people here, but Iâ€™m excited to be working in the FBIâ€™s Washington Field Office.”
Alejandro Miyar, a public affairs specialist who handled communications for the Civil Rights Division, left the Justice Department earlier this month to prepare to attend law school in Miami in the fall. Miyar joined the Justice Department in March 2009 after working as Florida Regional Communications Director on the Obama campaign. He had been a press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party and for the mayor of Miami.
Xochitl Hinojosa has been promoted her position as press assistant to take over Miyarâ€™s job handling communications for the Civil Rights Division. Nana Efua Embil also was promoted from her position as confidential assistant to the director to a press assistant.
Tracy Schmaler, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Affairs, said the open positions were in the process of being filled.
The office is the point of contact for news media covering the Department of Justice, issuing approximately 700 news releases each year. The office is staffed by a mixture of political appointees and career employees who respond to media questions, set up interviews, organize news conferences and accompany the Justice Departmentâ€™s top leadership to public events.