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La Follette School Alumni Profiles


Lierman joins health venture capital company


Terry Lierman

1971 alum Terry Lierman is busy helping to create good jobs in energy and health care.

Lierman has started a new venture capital and consulting company, Summit Global Ventures, after stepping down in late 2011 as chief of staff for U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.

“Summit Global Ventures does venture funding for new companies,” Lierman says. “We put together companies, and we do consulting in a variety of areas, including health care, energy and politics.”

In addition, Lierman helped start the Global Virus Network, a non-profit organization that brings together medical virologists from more than 31 countries to track pandemic viruses, educate the public and train virology researchers, Lierman says. Russia and China just joined the network, which will hold meetings in Germany and China this year.

He started the network with his friend Dr. Robert C. Gallo, who pioneered the field of human retroviruses with his discoveries of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2, co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS and developed the HIV blood test that has saved many thousands of lives.

“We are good friends, and we were talking about how to get people to collaborate, and we thought we ought to just do it and create a network,” says Lierman, who chairs the Board of Advisors of the Institute of Human Virology, where Gallo is director.

“It’s not the bomb that is going to kill us, it’s the virus that’s going to kill us,” Lierman says. “When I was at Wisconsin, everyone worried about the nuclear bomb.”

Lierman came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1969 from Winona State University in Minnesota, where he will give the 2013 graduation keynote. "I was quite honored that the president of Winona State asked me to give the commencement address," Lierman says.

While a master’s student at the Center for the Study of Public Policy and Administration, a La Follette School precursor, he interned with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services before graduating in 1971. He then headed for Washington, D.C., to work for the National Institutes of Health.

From 1975 to 1979, Lierman worked as a staff member on the Senate’s subcommittee on labor, health and human services, eventually becoming its staff director. He became the youngest staff director of any House or Senate standing committee in 1979 when he joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations led by Warren Magnuson.

After Republicans took control of the Senate in 1981, Lierman started the health-care lobbying and public relations firm Capitol Associates Inc., which he sold in 2001. He served as president of Employee Health Programs, which provides medical reviews of drug tests, employee assistance programs and drug-testing program administration. At the same time, he served as vice chair of TheraCom, a mail-order pharmaceutical company as well as the executive director of the National Coalition for Cancer Research and the Federal Drug Administration Council. Lierman also served on the board of visitors the La Follette School shared with the Department of Political Science from 2001 to 2008.

A candidate for Congress in 2000, Lierman served as finance co-chair for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign from 2003 to 2004 and as chair of Maryland’s Democratic Party from 2004 to 2007. “The party had great success under his leadership, helping to elect Martin O’Malley governor, senator Cardin to the Senate and putting the Maryland Democratic Party on a strong financial footing,” Hoyer’s December 2011 media release on staff changes notes.

Lierman joined Hoyer’s staff in 2007. “When he came to our office, he brought unparalleled experience and a passion for helping people,” Hoyer said in December 2011. “Terry Lierman has been a key part of the success of this office for over four and a half years.”

Lierman became one of the most powerful House staffers, according to Roll Call, collaborating with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff. Roll Call recognized Lierman in 2008 as one of Capitol Hill’s “Fabulous Fifty,” a prestigious list of the most powerful Hill aides.

As chief of staff, Lierman managed Hoyer’s personal and leadership offices, as well as his Maryland staff. “The best part of the job is the combination of policy with politics and management,” Lierman told the Almanac of the Unelected in 2008. “There’s very few jobs in the world where you can do all three.”

Hoyer Announces New Chief of Staff, December 13, 2011, Office of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

Terry Lierman: Why He Matters, March 8, 2011, WhoRunsGov, the Washington Post

Hoyer Announces New Chief of Staff, December 13, 2011, Office of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

Terry Lierman: Why He Matters, March 8, 2011, WhoRunsGov, the Washington Post

— posted December 21, 2011; updated February 21, 2013