Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Administration Appointments

Cuomo announces multiple new appointees to NYS government, described as "committed to implementing his bold agenda."

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New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Photo by: Governor Cuomo's Office.

Albany, NY - March 21, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the following appointments to his administration, adding to a team committed to implementing his bold agenda.

"From fighting to achieve social and economic justice, to creating stronger communities in every corner of this state, our administration has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of all New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "By bringing in new ideas and new talent, these additions will build on the extraordinary success we have made over the past six years. These men and women are highly respected in their fields and embody the values of public service necessary to continue moving this state forward. I look forward to working with them to create a stronger, fairer and more prosperous New York for all."

Carolyn Pokorny has been appointed Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance. Most recently, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. Prior, she spent nearly fifteen years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, where she held a number of leadership positions, including Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. She received the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the Federal Prosecutor of the Year award from the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation. Ms. Pokorny began her career as a prosecutor in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and then clerked for federal judge Arthur D. Spatt on Long Island. She has a B.A. from New York University, and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Christopher O’Brien has been appointed Director of Special Projects. Previously, Mr. O’Brien worked at Xerox Legal and Compliance Solutions for more than ten years, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior, he worked in public service as Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Before that, he served as Senior Assistant Counsel to Governor George E. Pataki. Mr. O’Brien received his J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.A. from Hobart College.

Sarah Bittleman has been appointed Deputy Director of Special Projects.  Previously, she has worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She comes to the Chamber most recently after serving as a Legislative and Policy Director for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. She holds a J.D. from Tulane University, an M.P.A. from East Carolina University and a B.A. from Union College.

Molly D. Dillon has been appointed Senior Policy Advisor. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, she served in the Obama White House as a Policy Advisor for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity on the Domestic Policy Council. At the White House, her work included a number of civil rights policy issues and their intersections, including women’s equality, child welfare, LGBTQ rights, labor, criminal justice, disability rights, homelessness, economic mobility and big data. Ms. Dillon holds an M.P.P. from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.

Valery Galasso has been appointed Senior Policy Advisor. Most recently, she was Special Advisor for Cabinet Nominations in the Office of the Chief Counsel for the Clinton-Kaine Transition Team. Ms. Galasso has served multiple roles in federal government, including Policy Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, where she was responsible for policy development involving a wide range of telecommunications issues. Prior to that, Ms. Galasso was a Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs in the White House for Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and a Congressional Liaison for the U.S. Department of Commerce. She holds an M.A. in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from the University of Connecticut.

Patrick Oakford has been appointed Senior Policy Advisor. Most recently, Mr. Oakford was a Policy Advisor at the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., where he advised Secretary Perez and helped execute the Department’s regulatory agenda. Prior, he conducted research on the economic impacts of immigration as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. Mr. Oakford received a M.Sc. from the University of Oxford, where he graduated with distinction, and a B.S. from Cornell University.

Mike Perrin has been appointed Deputy Director of State Operations. Mr. Perrin most recently served as Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. He came to the Cuomo administration as part of the New York Works initiative, where he played a key role in administering major capital projects across three state agencies. He then served as Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Finance at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services overseeing all agency budget functions, federal homeland security grant programs and financial aspects of Federal Emergency Management Administration funding aimed at recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Prior to rejoining state government, Mr. Perrin served in the Office of the County Executive of Albany County for 15 years. Mr. Perrin holds a B.A. from SUNY Oswego.

Kate Dineen has been appointed Chief of Staff to the Director of State Operations. Ms. Dineen most recently served as the Assistant Secretary for the Environment, and previously as the Deputy Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. Before joining state government, she was U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Policy Director, covering environmental, energy, and economic development issues. She also worked for the Australian federal government evaluating the world’s first national scheme to regulate the creation and trade of carbon credits. Ms. Dineen holds a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She graduated cum laude from Williams College with a B.A. in English.

Annabel Walsh has been appointed Director of Scheduling for Governor Cuomo. Previously, Ms. Walsh served as the Assistant Director of Scheduling, where she was responsible for coordinating many aspects of the Governor’s daily schedule. In 2013, Ms. Walsh joined the Cuomo Administration as an Operations Associate and Executive Assistant where she was responsible for organizing gubernatorial events. In those roles, Ms. Walsh also provided administrative support for the Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor and the Downstate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Ms. Walsh holds a B.A. from New York University.

Joel Wertheimer has been appointed Staff Secretary for Governor Cuomo. Most recently, he served as an Associate Staff Secretary at the Obama White House where he was responsible for coordinating and reviewing briefing materials sent to the President. Prior, Mr. Wertheimer worked in private practice as an Associate at Winston & Strawn LLP, before which, he clerked for the Honorable Lorna G. Schofield, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. from Tufts University.

Jen Darley has been appointed Assistant Director of Executive Operations. Most recently, she was the National Advance Lead at the Hillary for America Campaign where she traveled across the country advancing visits for Secretary Clinton and Senator Tim Kaine. Prior, she worked at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where she held roles as the Vice President of Operations and the Vice President of Visitor Services. Ms. Darley also served as an event management consultant for the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee. She received a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Delaware.

Jon Weinstein has been appointed Deputy Communications Director for Transportation. Previously, Mr. Weinstein was a Vice President at Mercury Public Affairs where he developed and executed both short- and long-term communications strategies for clients in the public and private sectors. Prior to that, Mr. Weinstein worked as a reporter and anchor with NY1 for more than seven years, covering a range of topics including politics, transportation, community news, real estate, and sports. He also worked as a field producer at News 12 The Bronx/Brooklyn. Mr. Weinstein holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.S.J. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Elizabeth Bibi has been appointed Deputy Director of Media Relations. Ms. Bibi most recently served as National Press Advance Desk for Senator Tim Kaine with the Hillary for America campaign, overseeing media logistics for all of Senator Kaine's interviews and events. Previously, she served on the Government Relations team at Scholastic Inc., and as Senior Media Relations Associate at the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College.

Andrew Tillman has been appointed Speechwriter for Governor Cuomo. Most recently, he worked in the Obama White House as a Senior Research Associate and speechwriter, writing speeches for White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Prior, he was an Associate Fellow at the Institute of the Americas, University College London, where he co-led a group of scholars for a major research project on United States-Latin American relations. Mr. Tillman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, an M.A. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. from Wake Forest University.

Tim Fullerton has been appointed Director of Digital Communications. Mr. Fullerton most recently served as the Director of National Digital Campaigns at Everytown for Gun Safety. Prior, he was the Director of Digital Strategy for the U.S. Department of the Interior where he served as a spokesperson for the department and executed its first digital strategic plan to broaden awareness and engagement with the public. Mr. Fullerton has held digital roles at a number of organizations, including the Alliance for Climate Protection, Oxfam America, and Electric Drive Transportation Association. He also served as the State and Regional E-Mail Manager for Obama for America in 2008. Mr. Fullerton holds a B.A. from Dickinson College.

Diana Bowen has been appointed Video Producer. Most recently, Ms. Bowen worked on the Hillary for America campaign as the state Filmmaker in Pennsylvania. Prior to that, she was a Video Producer at a strategic media firm. She was also a Video Producer and Photographer at the National Park Service. Ms. Bowen holds a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism from American University.

Joseph Rabito has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, after serving as Deputy Director of State Operations for Programs. In his new role he will focus primarily on upstate intergovernmental relations. In February 2011, Governor Cuomo appointed Mr. Rabito as Executive Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Office of General Services. Before joining OGS, Mr. Rabito held the titles of Deputy Commissioner at New York State Homes and Community Renewal and President of the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation. Prior to his appointment at HCR, Mr. Rabito served as Commissioner of Development & Planning for the City of Albany, and in the federal government for then Secretary Andrew Cuomo at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rochelle Kelly-Apson has been appointed Director of Downstate Intergovernmental Affairs for Governor Cuomo. She most recently served as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Office of the New York State Attorney General, after serving as a Community Outreach Liaison. Mrs. Kelly-Apson also served as a Rank-and-File Organizer for the New York Hotel Trades Council where she helped develop the organization’s campaign, and as a Union Delegate for the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. She has over 13 years of experience organizing advocacy ýand political campaigns in New York State.

Brendan Hughes has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Economic Development. Mr. Hughes previously served as Deputy Commissioner at Empire State Development where he was responsible for oversight of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils as well as several other programs, including the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative and $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Prior to joining Empire State Development, Mr. Hughes managed economic development initiatives in the clean energy sector for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Mr. Hughes received a B.A. in Political Science from Siena College.

Kerri Neifeld has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Human Services. Ms. Neifeld previously served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance where she managed the newly-created Division of Shelter Oversight and Compliance. Before that, she worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner at OTDA while serving as a member of Governor Cuomo’s inaugural class of Excelsior Service Fellows. Prior to the Excelsior Service Fellowship Program, Ms. Neifeld was a Fellow on Women & Public Policy at Rockefeller College’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society. Ms. Neifeld has worked as a Project Manager at the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties, a Child Protective Services Caseworker at the Albany County Department of Child and Family Services and a Youth Care Worker at WAIT House Homeless Youth Shelter. Ms. Neifeld holds a B.A. from Elmira College and an M.S.W. from the University at Albany School of Social Welfare.

Rob Gibbon has been appointed Assistant Counsel to the Governor for Transportation. Previously, he served as a Senior Counsel in Majority Counsel’s Office in the New York State Senate. During his time there, he acted as Home Rule and FOIL counsel to the conference and served as counsel to the local government committee; banks committee; housing, construction and community development committee; cities committee; and racing, wagering and gaming committee.  Before working for the Senate, he was Assistant Counsel to the New York State Association of Counties. He received his J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.S. in Business Administration magna cum laude from SUNY Albany.

Penny Lowy has been appointed Appointments Secretary. She most recently served as the Head of Resourcing and the Graduate Program at ICAP NA (Broker and FinTech Company), where she built a recruiting function and designed a series of global development programs and Human Resources processes and policies. Prior, she was the Recruiting Manager and Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Citibank. Before that, Ms. Lowy served as the Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition for Learning and Development at MasterCard Worldwide, and prior, she was a Human Resource Consultant at GE Capital Structured Finance Group. She holds a B.A. from Stony Brook University.

John Ceretto has been appointed Project Coordinator at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation after serving in the New York State Assembly since 2011. Before serving as an Assemblyman, Mr. Ceretto worked at the State Parks Department’s Niagara Gorge Discovery Center for nearly ten years, in the facility’s Education Programs Office of Historical Archives. Mr. Ceretto also worked for nearly 20 years at the Prestolite/Tulip Corporation. During part of his time there, he was a U.A.W. President for nine years. Before that, he was a teacher at Niagara Falls & Niagara Wheatfield School Districts. He has also served as a Councilman for the Town of Lewistown and as a Niagara County Legislator. Mr. Ceretto holds an M.S. in Education from Niagara University.

Brendan Fitzgerald has been appointed First Deputy Secretary of State at the New York Department of State. Previously, Mr. Fitzgerald served as Deputy Secretary for General Government and Financial Services in the Executive Chamber. Prior to that, Mr. Fitzgerald served as Assistant Secretary for Financial Services, Assistant Secretary for Technology, Operations and Gaming and Special Assistant for Public Finance and Local Government. For nearly seven years, Mr. Fitzgerald served as Principal Legislative Analyst for the New York State Assembly. Mr. Fitzgerald holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Siena College.

Michael Volforte has been appointed Director of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. As Director, he oversees the Executive branch’s relationship with the public sector unions that represent New York State employees. Mr. Volforte has worked in public service at the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations for over 20 years. He has served in various roles at GOER, including Associate Director, Deputy Counsel and Assistant Counsel. He received a J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.A. from St. Lawrence University.

Sarah Coleman has been appointed Deputy Chair and Counsel for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. Previously, Ms. Coleman served as Senior Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board where she worked as part of a team to prepare cases for decision by the Board. Prior to that, she worked at the Mississippi Youth Justice Project and Green Advocates. She also served as a Development Project Manager for Wiley-Blackwell Publishing and as a Junior Underwriter for Merrimack Mortgage Company. Ms. Coleman holds a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and a B.A. from Boston University.

Jeffrey Pearlman has been appointed Acting Director of the Authorities Budget Office. Previously, Mr. Pearlman served as Chief of Staff and Counsel for Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. Mr. Pearlman has also served as Chief of Staff for Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the State Senate Democratic Conference. Before working for the Senate, he worked of-counsel in the Government and Litigation practices of Greenberg Traurig LLP, an international, multi-practice law firm. Prior to that, he held numerous positions in state government, including in the New York State Executive Chamber as Assistant Counsel to former Governor David A. Paterson, Counsel to the New York State Lieutenant Governor, and several capacities in the New York State Senate and Assembly. Mr. Pearlman holds a J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.A. from SUNY New Paltz.