Rep. Jim Cooper Announces Leadership Transition and New Staff Roles

May 12, 2021
Press Release

NASHVILLE – Congressman Jim Cooper (D) announced today that Lisa Quigley, his longest serving Chief of Staff, will depart this summer after 13 years leading his office. 

He also announced that Cheryl Mayes, his Director of Finance and Operations, will become the District Director of the Nashville office.

Cooper’s longtime Legislative Director and deputy Chief of Staff, Jason Lumia, a budget expert, will become Chief of Staff in the Washington, D.C. office.

Quigley has served four Members of Congress over the course of her thirty-year congressional career. She is heavily involved in Democratic politics across Tennessee and in Washington, D.C. She was a candidate for Congress herself in her native California in 2004. 

Cooper said, “Lisa is my confidant, and the best strategist I’ve ever worked with. She is kind, compassionate, smart, and believes that government can work for everyone. She is energetic, determined, and knows how to get things done. She is a leader in her own right in our community, and I will miss her daily counsel.”

Quigley has steered Cooper through seven election cycles as his top advisor, commuting to Washington, D.C. from her home in Nashville, where she and her husband raised their now-adult children. She is known for her advocacy for health care, voting rights, and women’s political empowerment. Quigley has recruited dozens of candidates in Tennessee, and counsels a range of elected officials in the state. 

Quigley said, “Jim and I have been engaged in important conversations about the public interest for over 13 years, and I will miss those the most. We have done work on behalf of Middle Tennessee of which we both are extremely proud. The Nashville area couldn’t be in better hands than Jim’s.  He is the best boss I’ve ever had and my dear friend. He is serious, thoughtful, and completely focused on the public good. He also has an incredible staff, and they will carry on without interruption. It’s time to see what other challenges await me.”

Mayes, an accountant by training, has worked in the community, and in corporate settings like Nissan for over thirty years. A graduate of Tennessee State University, she received her MBA from Lipscomb University, and has also served as chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Public School Board of Trustees. Mayes has served on Cooper’s staff for two years, and she is currently responsible for operations and finances, in addition to managing the community outreach portfolio and Cooper’s famously competitive and rigorous intern program. She serves on several local non-profit boards, is a member of Word of Life Christian Center, and is the mother of three adult children and one granddaughter. In 2016, Mayes was the recipient of the Council of Urban Boards of Education’s prestigious Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award for Stellar leadership and tireless advocacy on behalf of children in Nashville.

Cooper said, “Cheryl is a wonderful person, totally focused on the needs of the community, and a true leader. I couldn't be happier that she has agreed to take on this key role. She will run the Nashville office, and will be my top local advisor. Everyone trusts her judgment and her ability to connect people and solve problems.”

Lumia is a well-known figure on Capitol Hill, having served as Cooper’s top legislative aide and deputy Chief of Staff for over a decade. He has also served as a key staff member of the powerful House Rules Committee. Lumia is known as a budget expert, and he has been key to Cooper’s success in getting legislation passed like No Budget, No Pay, Space Force, inspector general legislation, and prodding the National Institute of Health to treat women fairly in research studies. A native of New York, he has a graduate degree in economics from Syracuse University, and is the coach of his son’s baseball team.

Cooper said, “Jason is respected both in Nashville and in Washington, where I am now serving on a record four committees, more than any other member of Congress. Jason is the right person to help me navigate my many responsibilities there, as well as continue the recovery work in our community as we get through the pandemic and grow Middle Tennessee in the best possible way.”

Cooper has sixteen members of his staff, and the announced changes will be fully in place this summer.