Lisa Quigley, the long time chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and one of Nashville’s most influential political leaders, will leave her post this summer, the congressman’s office announced on Wednesday.
Quigley has worked in Washington D.C. for 30 years including the last 13 at the helm of Cooper’s office.
Quigley told the Tennessee Lookout that after working for most of her professional life in Washington, the time is right to pursue a new challenge. Quigley said she does not know what she will do next.
“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,” Quigley said.
Quigley, 56, is one of the state’s most outspoken critics of Tennessee’s voting laws. Last year she helped lead the push to allow voters to cast their ballots through the mail because of the pandemic. She’s also credited for helping shepherd the careers of many politicos and future politicians.
“As one of the Cooper staffers who has gone on to greener pastures, it was Lisa Quigley who encouraged us and helped us to know that while we were part of a team that was expected to provide the highest quality public service to citizens of the fifth congressional district, the work we did there was preparing us to serve in even higher capacities,” said Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn, a former aide to Cooper. “It had never been my intention to run for public office, but Lisa Quigley was instrumental in helping me take that leap and look at where I landed.”
Quigley took the job of advising Cooper in early 2008 following the departure of her predecessor Greg Hinote, who went on to advise Mayor Karl Dean. Her career began in the 1990s when few women held top jobs in congressional offices.
Cooper, who is running for reelection and faces a 2022 primary challenge from activist Odessa Kelly, lauded Quigley’s work in a prepared remarks provided to the media.
“Lisa is my confidant, and the best strategist I’ve ever worked with,” Cooper said. “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 will be replaced as Cooper’s top adviser by deputy chief of staff Jason Lumia, who has worked in the office for more than a decade.
In addition to Lumia’s promotion, Cooper’s office announced Cheryl Mayes, who had been serving as the congressman’s director of finance and operations, will assume the new role of district director of the Nashville office.
“Cheryl is a wonderful person, totally focused on the needs of the community, and a true leader,” Cooper said. “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.”