AUSTIN - State Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) announced Wednesday the finalized list of his capitol staff members going into the 83rd Legislative Session.

Matthew Cope, Barbara Erickson, Spencer Harris, Stephen Leland, Anna Paulson, Liz Sanchez, Liz Sanchez and Ben Stratmann will represent the senator in the Austin office.

"I am excited to officially introduce my capitol staff," said Sen. Birdwell. "The 83rd Legislative Session will be a rigorous one, so I am pleased to have such a talented team to help me serve the citizens of Senate District 22."

Chief of Staff Ben Stratmann came to the senator's staff from the office of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in January, 2011. In the last two years, he has worked in several roles, including policy analyst, communications director and campaign manager.

Stratmann will also advise the senator on transportation, water and budget issues.

Legislative Director Anna Paulson began as a campaign aide to Birdwell in early 2010. Before being promoted to spearhead the senator's legislative efforts, Paulson previously served as senior policy analyst for committees such as Veterans Affairs & Military Instillations (VAMI), Business & Commerce and will continue on the Sunset Advisory Commission.

Director of Constituent Services Barbara Erickson is a veteran capitol staffer, working in the Texas House and Senate since 1994. A former resident of Senate District 22, Barbara has been Birdwell's lead advisor on constituent casework and local affairs since late 2010.

Senior Policy Analyst Spencer Harris joined the staff in July, 2012. Harris previously worked as a senior advisor at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where his studies in state health care and welfare policy were printed in numerous national and state publications.

Policy Analyst Jason Steele, a longtime resident of Senate District 22, is the former special assistant to Comptroller Susan Combs and senior legislative aide to State Representative Jim Pitts of Waxahachie. Steele will serve as the senator's advisor on the Criminal Justice, State Affairs and VAMI committees.

Policy Analyst Matt Cope is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, and has previously served as legislative aide to State Representative Kelly Hancock and in the office of Congressman Jeb Hensarling. Cope will serve as the senator's advisor on the Natural Resources, Economic Development and Agricultural, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security committees.

Administrative Aide Liz Sanchez is a native of San Antonio and a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word. Sanchez served previously as a Senate messenger and State Preservation Board capitol guide, and will play a key role in all staff affairs and office operations.

Also joining the staff through the Bob Bullock Scholars Program is Stephen Leland, a Baylor University Army ROTC candidate and political science major.

Birdwell also welcomes his district managers, both of whom joined the staff in early 2012 to manage constituent casework and serve as local liaisons on his behalf. Shelly Verlander, a Waco resident, is a certified paralegal and has worked with major companies such as Motorola USA and Broadwing Communications. Taylor Blackburn, of Granbury, worked in management of a private contracting business and is a graduate of the Travis Academy of Fine Arts in Fort Worth.

Birdwell is a native Texan, decorated military veteran, survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and a proud husband and father. Brian proudly represents Senate District 22, which includes Bosque, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro, Somervell and Tarrant [partial] counties.