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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 11/10/09

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:

  • Erin C. Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force, Department of Defense
  • Cynthia Attwood, Member, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Sandford Blitz, Federal Co-Chair, Northern Border Regional Commission
  • Douglas A. Criscitello, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development

President Obama will also appoint two individuals to serve on the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.  Their names and bios are below.

President Obama said, “The American people will be well-served by the experience and expertise these individuals bring to their respective roles.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Erin C. Conaton, Nominee for Under Secretary of the Air Force, Department of Defense
Erin C. Conaton is currently the staff director for the House of Representatives’ Committee on Armed Services (HASC).  In that capacity, she serves as the primary advisor to Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and the 61 other members of the Armed Services Committee. She directs the committee’s 70 person staff who support the HASC members with drafting and negotiating each year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which provides annual funding and authorities to the Department of Defense.  In the 109th Congress, she was the committee’s Minority Staff Director. Prior to that, since joining the HASC staff in 2001, she served as a Professional Staff Member covering a range of defense policy issues.  Before joining the committee staff, she was the Research Staff Director for the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission) in the Department of Defense.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Cynthia Attwood, Nominee for Member, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Cynthia L. Attwood has spent her career as a lawyer and judge with much of her time focused on the administration and enforcement of federal occupational safety and health laws. She served for three years as an Administrative Appeals Judge on the Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board, where she decided appellate cases brought under multiple labor laws and regulations.  Prior to that, she served for eight years as an Attorney Advisor for the Board.  Ms. Attwood also served in the Senior Executive Service at DOL for over ten years, both as the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health and before that as the Associate Solicitor for Mine Safety and Health.  She also previously worked at the Department of Justice, where she began her career as a civil rights litigator.  Ms. Attwood received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota, where she was awarded membership in the Order of the Coif, and her B.A. from Oakland University.

Sandford Blitz, Nominee for Federal Co-Chair, Northern Border Regional Commission
Sandford Blitz is the founder and Principal of Emesbee Associates, where he works with public and private entities to help them secure grants and loans. From 2007-2009, he served as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and oversaw SBA offices in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Mr. Blitz is also an adjunct professor with the University of Maine’s Department of Public Administration, specializing in economic development, intergovernmental affairs, and regional governance. For 13 years, he served as the Economic Development Representative for the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Mr. Blitz has also served on the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Greater Bangor Regional Chamber of Commerce since 2001, on the American Society of Public Administration since 1992, and on the Infrastructure and Transportation Task Force for the President’s Council for Sustainable Development from 1994 - 1996.

Douglas A. Criscitello, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Douglas A. Criscitello is currently a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he has been assisting the firm in the establishment of a public sector financial services practice. He has specialized experience forecasting government finances, modeling financial risk of credit programs, performing budgetary and legislative analysis, and helping public sector agencies implement state-of-the-art financial technologies and practices. Prior to joining PricewaterhouseCoopers, Criscitello was an Executive Director at JPMorgan Securities, Inc. where he provided operational, investment banking, and financial advisory services to U.S. government agencies. Before JPMorgan, Criscitello worked extensively with U.S. credit agencies in roles at the Small Business Administration, Office of Management and Budget, and Congressional Budget Office. In those positions, he assisted agencies in forecasting the costs of their programs, provided oversight of operations, and advised on areas of expertise such as credit program planning and implementation. He has also worked on local governmental issues through his role as founding Director of the New York City Independent Budget Office, a municipal agency responsible for providing oversight of New York City's operating and capital budgets. Criscitello holds a Master's in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Rochester, where he also studied political science and economics as an undergraduate.

President Obama also announced two members of the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad:

Emil Fish, Member, Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
Emil Fish is the Founder and President of the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee, which works to preserve and create a memorial to the survivors of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jewish Suburbia in Bardejov, Slovakia. In addition, he owns and operates Fish Construction Co., Inc. and Regency Park Senior Living, Inc. in California. Mr. Fish has also served as President of the Congregation Shaarei Tefila, of the Orthodox Union’s West Coast Office, and of Hillel Hebrew Academy. He also served as a member of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. Mr. Fish, who was born in Bardejov, Slovakia, was caught and sent with his mother and sister to Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp, where he was later liberated in 1945. He immigrated and settled in the United States in 1955.

Larry Pressler, Member, Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
Former Senator Larry Pressler served as a Member of Congress for 22 years—four years in the U.S. House of Representatives and eighteen years as a U.S. Senator from the state of South Dakota. Senator Pressler sat on numerous Committees during his tenure, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he served for sixteen years. He chaired the Senate Commerce Committee. He also twice served as a Congressional Delegate to the United Nations. In addition to his work in Congress, Senator Pressler serves as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has lectured at several universities in the United States and overseas. He was awarded a Fulbright grant as a Professor at the University of Bologna, Italy where he lectured in International Relations for five months during the 2009 Spring Semester. Senator Pressler was a Rhodes Scholar and served two tours of duty in Vietnam in the U.S. Army.