President Barack Obama recently announced his nominees for several posts at agencies with responsibilities for infrastructure or the environment.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGYScott Blake Harris for General Counsel. Harris is Managing Partner of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, a Washington, D.C. law firm with nationally known telecommunications, litigation, and appellate practices. From 1994 to 1996, Mr. Harris served as the first chief of the International Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission. Before joining the Commission, he was Chief Counsel for Export Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prior to government service, Mr. Harris was a partner at the law firm of Williams & Connolly. Mr. Harris is a magna cum laude graduate of both Brown University and Harvard Law School.
Kristina M. Johnson Under Secretary of Energy. Johnson is currently the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of Johns Hopkins University. Previously, Johnson served as the Dean of Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering from 1999-2007 where she helped to set up interdisciplinary efforts in photonics, bioengineering and biologically inspired materials, and energy and the environment. Before that she was on the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder from 1985-1999 where she led an NSF Engineering Research Center and involved engineers, mathematicians, physicists, chemists and psychologists in working to make computers faster and better connected. Johnson is an electrical engineer with more than 129 US and foreign patents or patents pending. These inventions include pioneering work on liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplays and their integration into demonstration and commercial systems such as heads-up automotive displays (HUD); pattern recognition systems for cancer prescreening, object tracking and document processing; HDTV and 3D projection displays; and 3D holographic memories. She has co-founded several companies and is the author of 142 peer reviewed publications. Johnson has received several awards including the John Fritz Medal, widely considered the highest award in the engineering profession. She earned degrees from Stanford University including a Ph.D. in 1984 and both a bachelor's and a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1981.
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIORMichael L. Connor for Director, Bureau of Reclamation. Connor has more than 15 years of experience in the public sector including serving as the Counsel to the U.S. Senate and Natural Resources Committee since May 2001. As Counsel, he has negotiated and managed legislation related to water reclamation, Indian lands and energy issues. Connor also directed the Water & Power Subcommittee which has legislative oversight of the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Geological Survey. From 1993 to 2001, Connor served at the Department of the Interior as deputy director and then director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office. Connor received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law, and is admitted to the bars of Colorado and New Mexico. He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from New Mexico State University.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONJoseph C. Szabo for Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration. Szabo is currently the Illinois State Legislative Director for the United Transportation Union. As State Director Joe has provided vision and direction to rail safety and regulatory issues and worked with business and civic leaders in the advancement of freight and passenger rail service. Joe also serves on the Federal Railroad Administration's Rail Safety Advisory Committee participating in the development of federal regulations on rail safety. Prior to this Joe served as the Mayor of the Village of Riverdale where he managed over 100 employees and budget of $9 Million serving 15,000 residents. Joe was elected Mayor after serving ten years as a Village Trustee
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCYMichelle J. DePass for Assistant Administrator for International Affairs. DePass is currently a program officer at the Ford Foundation where she manages the foundation's initiative on Environmental Justice and Healthy Communities. Her work concentrates on the environmental and social justice intersections in the United States and supporting transnational linkages that support environmental justice policies and practices. She taught federal environmental law and policy at the City University of New York, developed and administered a bi-state workforce development training program for disadvantaged youth on superfund waste sites, and served as executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. In this position, she assisted communities and community organizations in their negotiations with government agencies, implemented advocacy campaigns and co-organized the Northeast Environmental Justice Network. Subsequently, she served as Assistant to the City Manager of San Jose, California, advising on environmental policy matters, and served as an Environmental Compliance Manager for the City of San Jose. After completing a term with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York as a William Kunstler Racial Justice Fellow, Michelle joined the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection where she was Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner. In this position, she developed a framework for an Environmental Justice Order that required the use of public health data to identify communities for priority compliance, enforcement, remediation, siting and permitting action. She received a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University, a law degree from Fordham University School of Law, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College School of Public Affairs.
Cynthia J. Giles for Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Giles is Vice President and Director of Conservation Law Foundation's Rhode Island Advocacy Center, where she has focused on state and regional advocacy to combat climate change. From 2001 to 2005, Cynthia served as head of the Bureau of Resource Protection at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Giles worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a variety of capacities from 1991 to 1997. From 1995-1997, she was Enforcement Director for Region 3 and developed a "results-targeted" approach to enforcement, which she has since published in a paper written for OECA. Her responsibilities included overseeing enforcement of federal laws regulating toxics and protecting air, drinking water and surface water. She also chaired a regional ozone compliance initiative, developing strategies for reducing smog-causing emissions from stationary sources. Prior to joining EPA, Giles was an Assistant United States Attorney, where she prosecuted violations of federal environmental laws. She holds a BA from Cornell University, as well as a JD from the University of California at Berkeley and an MPA from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She is admitted to the bar in the State of Rhode Island, U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island and State of Pennsylvania.
Gina McCarthy for Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. McCarthy is currently the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). McCarthy came to the Connecticut DEP from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she worked on environmental issues at the state and local level for 25 years in a variety of high-ranking positions. Just prior to joining the Connecticut DEP, she served as the Deputy Secretary of Operations for the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development, a "Super Secretariat" that coordinates policies and programs of that state's environmental, transportation, energy and housing agencies. In 1990, Governor Dukakis appointed McCarthy as Chair of the Council to oversee the review of a proposed hazardous waste incinerator in the Boston area.
You can read the original news releases here and here.