Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s has hired Winifred native Christine Heggem as his new chief of staff.

Heggem replaces Charles Robison, who resigned as Republican Gianforte's chief of staff last month to become the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Director in Montana.

Heggem is a nearly 20-year veteran of congressional politics. She most recently worked on the House Agriculture Committee for Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas. Heggem’s job was working with other committees and farm groups to form coalitions on agricultural issues.

She got her start in 2000 working for the former Republican Montana U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, and later worked for the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Burns was a member.

“I came out here, as many Montanans do come out to D.C., with a promise that I would only be here two years and then be back in Montana,” Heggem said. “And now, it’s 18 years later.”

Heggem's family is best known for the owning the Winifred Country Store. Heggem's mother, Donna Young, was a county commissioner in Fergus County for six years in the 1990s and has the unusual distinction of being a county commissioner in more than one county. Young was a commissioner in Powell County for six years after moving to Elliston. 

Heggem said she has worked with most Montana agriculture groups as the House Agriculture Committee begins work on a new farm bill. She's worked frequently with the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Before working for Conaway, Heggem was a senior government relations representative for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business and economics from Montana State University in Bozeman.

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Agriculture and Politics Reporter

Politics and agriculture reporter for The Billings Gazette.