Sierra Cato, J.D.

Sierra Cato is a principal at Lewis-Burke Associates LLC. As a skilled advisor and strategist in the energy policy practice, Sierra helps clients advance legislative priorities in Congress, protect their interests, secure federal funding, navigate challenges in the political landscape, and raise their profile in Washington. Prior to joining Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Sierra served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Executive Secretariat at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) where she oversaw the Department’s response to high level communications and policy actions from the White House related to energy policy and national security. She also spearheaded legislative reform efforts across DOE and supported the Secretary of Energy as Acting Staff Secretary where she led cross-agency coordination, preparation, and finalization of briefing materials for his domestic and international engagements. In addition, Sierra received a Secretary’s Appreciation Award for exceeding expectations in the strategy and creation of the Department of Energy Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office in September 2019.

Issue Expertise: Energy Sciences, Physical Sciences, Applied Sciences, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Fossil Energy, Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation, Nuclear Energy, DOE National Laboratories, Research and Development, Transportation, Appropriations, Artificial Intelligence, Technology Transitions, Grid Resilience and Modernization, Cybersecurity, Workforce Development and STEM

Additional Experience: During her career, Sierra gained sound knowledge of the inner workings of Congress while serving in various positions in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, including the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. During her time in the Senate, Sierra was Co-Chair of the Community Service Committee for the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus. In addition to a strong appreciation for service, Sierra values the importance of building strong relationships and working in a bipartisan manner. 

Vital Statistics: Sierra earned her Bachelor of Science in Applied Sociology at North Carolina State University. She received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Sierra was born and raised in Whiteville, North Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors.


Sharon Eshelman

Sharon Eshelman is a strategic planning and communications professional with decades of government service and consulting experience, who has specialized in stakeholder management, and government affairs related to national security since 2001. At Lewis-Burke, Sharon serves as a strategic advisor to clients helping to advance their defense, cybersecurity, and homeland security priorities.  Sharon joins Lewis-Burke after spending two years as Senior Advisor in the Office of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where she guided the Department’s response to a myriad of Congressional oversight investigations and served as the primary liaison with Capitol Hill on Intelligence matters. Ms. Eshelman previously served as the National Security Subcommittee Staff Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, overseeing more than 35 investigations into the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security, State, Veterans’ Affairs, Defense, and the Intelligence Community.  

Issue Expertise: Defense and national security, homeland security, immigration, criminal justice, cybersecurity, congressional oversight.

Additional Experience:  From 2009 to 2017, Ms. Eshelman worked as a professional project manager at both Deloitte Consulting and the Sentinel HS Group where she supported strategy and policy clients within DHS, DOJ and the Treasury Department.  Prior to becoming a consultant in 2009, Ms. Eshelman served five years with the federal government, assuming various policy development roles in both DHS and the White House.  Throughout her career, she has contributed to a variety of federal initiatives such as: the White House Strategy (and Implementation Plan) for Pandemic Influenza; national disaster and COOP planning; various criminal justice and civil enforcement plans; federal fraud, waste and abuse investigations; victim support initiatives; federal program, planning, budgeting and execution (PPBE) efforts; state and local law enforcement outreach campaigns; government re-organizations and has written pieces included in the President’s Daily Briefing Book.  

Vital Statistics:  Ms. Eshelman received a B.S. in Business Administration from American University in Washington, DC, and a M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, and has completed additional coursework in political science and education.  

Beyond her professional and academic accomplishments, Ms. Eshelman has volunteered with the Anne Arundel County Public School System, Junior Achievement, National Youth Leadership Forum and College Summit organizations, and continues to look for ways to support youth development initiatives in the Greater Washington DC area.

Sharon is originally from the Greater Philadelphia area and is an avid Eagles, NASCAR and cheesesteak fan.  She enjoys playing golf and frisbee, jogging, swimming, and spending time outside with her husband and three children.  


Griffin Reinecke

Griffin is a passionate advocate for science and technology policy. An expert in space, energy, and transportation issues, he leverages his experience working on Capitol Hill and relationships with congressional staff to provide Lewis-Burke clients with insight on potential congressional action and upcoming federal funding opportunities.

Issue areas: Civil space research and policy, fundamental and applied energy research and development, environmental research, transportation and infrastructure, and aeronautics.

Additional Experience: Prior to joining Lewis-Burke Associates, Griffin worked on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, where he served on the full committee and more recently on Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. During his time on the Committee, he developed an in-depth knowledge of space and science policy issues while building relationships with key stakeholders at relevant agencies, in academia, and industry. Griffin also worked as an intern in the office of Ron Wyden.

Vital Statistics: Griffin was born and raised in Bend, Oregon and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and sustainability from the University of Michigan. When not supporting Michigan athletics, Griffin spends his free time outdoors skiing, hiking, or playing golf.


Mia Luckett

Mia Luckett delivers timely insight, detailed research, and federal agency and congressional updates to Lewis-Burke clients. Mia specializes in monitoring and analyzing agency and legislative activity related to the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Issue Expertise: Technology, Engineering Communities, Social Science, and Public- Private Partnerships.

Additional Information: Before joining Lewis-Burke Associates, Mia was a legal administrative assistant to a criminal defense and real estate attorney. Mia also interned with the district office of Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), where she gained an understanding of education policy and aided incarcerated constituents in utilizing government agencies. Mia was previously an Eben Tisdale Public Policy Fellow with the Fund for American Studies. As a fellow, she interned with lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas and worked with the Technology CEO council. During this time, Mia gained expertise in high-tech public policy, the latest innovations in science and technology, and conducted research on the effectiveness of bipartisanship.

Vital Statistics: Originally from the southern suburbs of Chicago, Mia graduated magna cum laude from Hampton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. While attending Hampton, Mia also joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and often does community service with other organization members. Mia is a self- proclaimed foodie and loves trying out a new recipe, or the latest and trendiest restaurants. In her free time Mia also enjoys traveling, reading, and working out.


Hale Stolberg

Hale Stolberg supports Lewis-Burke by providing research and up to date information on the defense and environment portfolios, tracking developments and opportunities at the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Having studied physics as an undergraduate and gained experience working in science policy, Hale brings a valuable perspective and passion to Lewis-Burke’s clients.

 Issue Areas: Defense, environment, Earth observation, workforce, research and development, space, and energy

Additional Experience: Prior to joining Lewis-Burke, Hale worked as a Science Policy Communications Intern at FYI: Science Policy News, an authoritative news and resource center for federal science policy from the American Institute of Physics. While there he reported on a range of issues including developments within space, energy, and research policy. Before that, he interned with NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Team, assisting the agency’s integration of robotic and human exploration missions.

Vital Statistics: A Chicago native, Hale moved to DC to pursue a B.A. in physics and minor in public policy from American University, graduating cum laude in 2020. Having spent more than three years in the District, Hale still likes to explore the city by foot, and is also an avid cyclist. Eventually, his goal is to bike down every street in the city and he has already made significant progress.


Thomas Russell, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Russell is Senior Policy Advisor to Lewis-Burke. As a Senior Policy Advisor, Dr. Russell will serve as an independent, non-lobbying consultant to Lewis-Burke clients with interests in secure and non-secure National Security research and policy. Dr. Russell had a diverse 30-year government science and technology career, focused on leading complex multidisciplinary research organizations and executing broad multidiscipline research programs to meet future warfighter needs. He is a proven leader in directing basic, applied research and advanced technology development across the Department of Defense, including management of Department of Defense research collaborations with academia, industry and the international community. Dr. Russell’s Tri-Service career experience (16 years with the Navy, 6 years with the Air Force, and 8 years with the Army) makes him uniquely qualified. Dr. Russell provides strategic insights and analyses of relevant programs, policies, and regulations across the national security enterprise and offers profound experiences from both DOD science and technology as well as the Service (i.e. Navy, Army, Air Force) acquisition communities.

Issue Expertise: Identifying, developing, and demonstrating technology options that inform and enable effective and affordable capabilities for the Warfighter.

Additional Experience: Dr. Russell served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology; Director, Army Research Lab, Director; Air Force Office of Scientific Research; Executive Director, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division; and Director, Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Directorate, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division.

Vital Statistics: Dr. Russell received a Ph.D.in chemistry, University of Delaware and a B.S. in chemistry, Muhlenberg College. Dr. Russell began his federal career as a research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. and at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, White Oak Laboratory, White Oak, MD. He is the recipient of a Navy Superior Civilian Service Award; the Army Distinguished Service Award; and the SES Presidential Rank Award, Meritorious Executive Service. Dr. Russell was selected to the Senior Executive Service in 2006 and retired from federal service as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology and Army Chief Scientist in March 2020. In his spare time, Dr. Russell is an avid Cincinnati Bengals and Reds fan.


Informing Faculty to Enable Grant Success

NSF developed a new funding mechanism for accelerating development of technology in agency priority areas.  Lewis-Burke engaged with the agency repeatedly to help shape the new mechanism and obtain early intelligence.  Once a pilot competition was announced, a university client wanted to prepare a broad group of faculty to compete for awards.  Lewis-Burke prepared a webinar for interested faculty, which gave them insights into the larger context for the program, key features of the mechanism and how it differed from typical NSF programs, and best practices for success.  Ultimately, a faculty group from the university won a $1 million award in the competition and now has the opportunity to obtain additional, much larger awards as part of the program.


Getting a Scientific Community’s Decadal Vision off the Ground

Getting a Scientific Community’s Decadal Vision off the Ground – A scientific society client worked with the community to develop a decadal vision for its field.  This was the first time this scientific community undertook such an endeavor and Lewis-Burke worked with the client to guide the society’s volunteer leadership through the nuances of nurturing a realistic vision with meaningful messaging for policy makers.  After the vision was finalized, Lewis-Burke crafted and implemented a successful rollout strategy to the society’s membership, federal agency contacts, the White House, Capitol Hill and the rest of the scientific community.  As a direct result of these efforts, the society has increased its influence with policy makers and cultivated new congressional champions, the vision’s recommendations are informing federal agency priorities and the overall visibility and recognition of the importance of the field has been heightened.  Lewis-Burke continues to work with the society to make this decadal vision a reality.


Lewis-Burke’s Advocacy Results in Revolutionary Scientific Discovery Recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physics

Over the past twenty-five years, Lewis-Burke has led the advocacy efforts on behalf of a prominent research university to successfully support over $1 billion in federal funding at the National Science Foundation to develop, build, and upgrade a major scientific research facility.  Support for the project over this period included congressional lobbying, White House advocacy over 4 Presidents, coordination with NSF, organized efforts with scientists, development of spokespersons, coordination with international organizations, and federal budget expertise.  Lewis-Burke adjusted and adapted strategies to ensure continuous funding for the two-site facility.  As a result of this stable federal funding stream, the world-class research team was able to make revolutionary scientific discoveries predicted 100 years ago by Albert Einstein.  In 2017, the scientific and technological construction effort was recognized internationally with the Nobel Prize in Physics.  This unprecedented success will continue with future federal funding plans to ensure the success of this new field of science.


Building Support for NASA’s Heliophysics Division

NASAs Heliophysics Division budget underwent a multi-year period of stagnation and decline while other NASA science divisions consistently received funding increases. This was particularly concerning for one Lewis-Burke client with leading capabilities in solar science and experience partnering with NASA on Heliophysics missions.

Lewis-Burke developed an advocacy strategy designed to foster congressional support for the Heliophysics Division. The strategy recognized that NASA Heliophysics lacked both an effective message and an organized constituency to carry it. Lewis-Burke began by crafting a messaging approach that connected the recommendations of the solar and space physics community with congressional priorities for space exploration. Lewis-Burke then worked with the client to form a coalition of universities with ties to the NASA Heliophysics Division.

This concerted advocacy effort enabled multiple universities to simultaneously promote a single set of community-driven priorities to congressional appropriators.  Lewis-Burkes efforts were ultimately successful.  Between FY 2018 and FY 2020, funding for the Heliophysics Division has increased by $37 million, bringing total funding for NASA Heliophysics to the highest level it has seen in a decade.