• 64°

Portman names new chief of staff: Isakowitz leaving for private sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced that chief of staff Mark Isakowitz is departing to pursue a new opportunity in the private sector.

Portman is naming deputy chief of staff and communications director Kevin Smith as his new chief of staff, and deputy communications director Emily Benavides as his communications director.

“Mark is a great friend and a superb leader, and I will miss his counsel that I have relied on over the past five years,” Portman said in a news release. “I’m very grateful that Mark chose to leave the private sector and join me in public service in 2014. He has been instrumental in our efforts to get things done for Ohio, whether it was passing tax reform, combatting the opioid crisis and much more. He will be truly missed by me and our team.”

Smith takes on the chief of staff role after serving as Portman’s deputy chief of staff and communications director for three years. Before that, he served as former House Speaker and Ohio Rep. John Boehner’s communications director.

Benavides has served on Portman’s staff for the past three years, first as press secretary and then deputy communications director. She previously served as Jeb Bush’s traveling press secretary during the 2016 presidential campaign, communications director for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election campaign, and also served on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign in addition to various other political communications roles. She is a Perrysburg, Ohio native.