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The U.S. Department of Education announced several new senior employees Wednesday, including a key former staffer of Senator Lamar Alexander on the Senate education committee.

Kathleen Smith, who formerly served as the higher education policy adviser under the Tennessee Republican, was named senior adviser to the assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education. She will also fill the assistant secretary position on an acting basis. She served in the department under President Obama, too.

Steven Menashi was named deputy general counsel for postsecondary service and will serve as general counsel on an acting basis.

The department also announced Nathan Bailey as communications director.