Longtime aide William Tranghese parts ways as Neal’s chief of staff

  • AP FILE PHOTO/PATRICK SEMANSKY AP FILE PHOTO/PATRICK SEMANSKY

  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and longtime staffer Billy Tranghese, who spent 33 years with Neal in Congress and recently retired as chief of staff. CONTRIBUTED

Published: 1/16/2022 10:18:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Longtime congressional staffer William “Billy” Tranghese thought he might spend two or three years working for U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield. But on Friday, his last day on the job, his career with the congressman had surpassed more than three decades.

Tranghese, who retired as chief of staff, spent 33 years with Neal in Congress, though his history with Neal dates back far longer. Tranghese said his tenure is a great testimony to Neal’s leadership as he’s had very little turnover.

“Billy began working with me as a volunteer during my campaign for Springfield City Council while he was my student at Cathedral High School,” Neal said in a statement. “During that time, he quickly learned that I value the hard work of campaign volunteers and was subsequently hired as an intern when I was mayor.”

Tranghese worked on 23 campaigns with Neal. Among one of his memories of those campaigns, the congressman recalled Tranghese spending a long time tracking former president Bill Clinton in an effort to create a robocall message. At the time, Clinton had indicated that he was traveling and it might be hard to reach him, but Tranghese stayed on it.

“He was very good at those under-pressure moments,” Neal said in an interview with the Gazette.

Tranghese, a native of Springfield, joined Neal’s staff as a legislative assistant in January 1989. He served as the congressman’s spokesman for 20 years and as his communications director, and was promoted to chief of staff in 2016.

Neal also noted Tranghese’s advocacy for a “peaceful and agreed upon Ireland,” and pointed to the respect he received from members of the news media. In 2007, Tranghese joined several friends in helping to found Belfast-Beltway Boxing Project, a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged youth from Northern Ireland and the U.S. through their boxing clubs.

Tranghese has taken a new role as a senior vice president in Washington, D.C., with California-based lobbying firm Platinum Advisors. His replacement as chief of staff is Elizabeth “Lizzy” O’Hara, who formerly served as Neal’s deputy chief of staff.

“Lizzy is as capable as they come,” Neal said. “I am excited to welcome her into this new role.”

Before working for Neal, O’Hara worked for former House Majority and Minority Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, as a legislative assistant and legislative director. She also worked as an aide to Rep. Tom Manton, D-New York.

Tranghese said that although he’s ready for the challenge, the moment is still a bittersweet one. As he packed a few remaining boxes from his office on Monday, he offered up gratitude for his time with the congressman and reflected on his decades of memories. Both he and Neal agreed that what they’ll both miss the most are their rides in the car.

“I am going to miss those rides,” Tranghese said. “It might just be 20 minutes, but for 20 minutes, you’re away from phones, emails and texts, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up and have some wonderful conversations. I’ve enjoyed the rides and I’ll miss them a great deal.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com. Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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