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The White House

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 3/19/09


Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   March 19, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Barack Obama announced that Jon Wellinghoff, currently serving as Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), will be designated as Chairman.  President Obama also announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts: Suedeen Kelly to be re-appointed as a Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Elizabeth King, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Department of Defense; T. Michael Kerr, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Department of Labor; Gabriella Gomez, Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Department of Education; Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, United States Department of Agriculture; Cameron F. Kerry, General Counsel, Department of Commerce; Robert S. Rivkin, General Counsel, Department of Transportation; and M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor, Department of Labor.

President Obama said, "I’m confident that these distinguished individuals will use their unique talents to help us take on the important work that lies ahead.  Each of the people announced today brings a commitment to public service and a dedication to meeting the goals of my administration and I look forward to working with them in the months ahead."

President Obama made the following announcement today:

Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Wellinghoff was named Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that oversees wholesale electric transactions and interstate electric transmission and gas transportation in the United States, by President Obama in January 2009. A member of the Commission since 2006, the U.S. Senate reconfirmed him to a full, five-year FERC term in December 2007.  Wellinghoff is an energy law specialist with more than 30 years experience in the field. Before joining FERC, he was in private practice and focused exclusively on client matters related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation. While in the private sector, Wellinghoff represented an array of clients from federal agencies, renewable developers, and large consumers of power to energy efficient product manufacturers and clean energy advocacy organizations. While in private practice, Wellinghoff was the primary author of the Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Act. The Nevada RPS is one of the two states to receive an "A" rating by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition, he worked with clients to develop renewable portfolio standards in six other states. Wellinghoff is considered an expert on the state renewable portfolio process and has lectured extensively on the subject in numerous forums including the Vermont Law School.  His experience also includes two terms as the State of Nevada’s first Consumer Advocate for Customers of Public Utilities.  Wellinghoff is co-chair of the Demand Response Collaborative launched jointly by FERC and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and is a member of NARUC’s Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Electric Efficiency and served as an advisor to the Defense Science Board’s Energy Policy Task Force. Wellinghoff also advises the Energy Foundation and the NRDC on China-U.S. energy policy matters. He recently returned from China where he headed a delegation of U.S. energy regulators.  He received his J.D. from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., his M.A.T in Mathematics from Howard University, and his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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

Suedeen G. Kelly, Nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Suedeen G. Kelly has served as a Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission since November 2003. In December 2004, she was confirmed to a second term that expires June 30, 2009. Previously she was a Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she taught energy law, public utility regulation, administrative law and legislative process. She also worked with the law firm of Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk in Albuquerque from 2000 through 2003 and the law firm of Sheehan, Sheehan, and Stelzner from 1992 through 1999. In 2000, Kelly served as counsel to the California Independent System Operator. In 1999, she worked as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.  Prior to joining the faculty of the Law School, Kelly served as Chair of the New Mexico Public Service Commission, which regulated New Mexico’s electric, gas and water utilities. She had been a lawyer in the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General and with the New Mexico firm of Leubben, Hughes & Kelly. She also worked in Washington, DC, for the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ruckelshaus, Beveridge, Fairbanks & Diamond. She received her B.A. with Distinction in Chemistry from the University of Rochester and a J.D. cum laude from Cornell Law School. She is admitted to the bars of New Mexico and the District of Columbia.

Elizabeth King, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Department of Defense
Elizabeth King is currently Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Veterans for Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), serving as the Senator's principal staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee and accompanying the Senator on international travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Bosnia, East Timor, China and Colombia. Prior to her current position, King was Legislative Director to Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA). In 1995, King served as Counsel for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. She also worked as Staff Attorney for the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation. King holds a law degree from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

T. Michael Kerr, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Department of Labor
T. Michael Kerr is currently Assistant to Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in charge of finance and administration.  In the early seventies he moved to Washington to do political and legislative work for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  During the Carter Administration he served in the White House Office of Consumer Affairs and the Legislative Office of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  He then returned to political and legislative work at AFSCME.  During the Clinton Administration he served eight years at the Department of Labor, first in the Office of Secretary Reich, then for Secretary Herman in the Employment Standards Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workers Compensation Programs, Deputy Assistant Secretary and as Administrator of Wage and Hour.  After graduating from college he spent two and a half years as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America).  He has a BA from Tufts University and a Masters in City Planning from MIT.  In 2005 he was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Gabriella Gomez, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Department of Education
Gabriella Gomez currently serves as Senior Education Policy Advisor on the Committee on Education and Labor for U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA).  Prior to her work on the Committee, Gomez advocated on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers as the Assistant Director of the Department of Federal Legislation.  Gomez also served as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), covering education, health and labor on the local and federal level and serving as the Congressman’s liaison for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  In 2007, Gomez received a fellowship from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a program aimed at bringing talented Hispanic leaders to work in Washington DC.  Gabriella earned her Masters of Education at Harvard University, her Bachelor of Arts from Loyola Marymount University and studied British Policy at the London School of Economics.

Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, United States Department of Agriculture
Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., Senior Advisor to Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  While at the CBC, Leonard managed the daily activities of the Caucus and helped guide the legislative policy for its 43 congressional members.  Prior to his role at the CBC, Leonard served as the Executive Director of the Black Leadership Forum, an umbrella organization of 32 member groups that together work to develop and implement progressive public policies for social change.  Leonard has also served as the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Director of the Arthur Fleming Institute of the Center for Policy Alternatives.  Leonard, a native of Austin, Texas, holds a Ph.D. in American history with a specialization in civil rights history from Howard University of Washington, D.C., a Master of Arts degree from Southern University of Baton Rouge, LA, and a B.A. from Huston-Tillotson University, Austin.  Leonard and his wife, Dr. Natasha Cole-Leonard have a 5-year-old son, Cole.

Cameron F. Kerry, Nominee for General Counsel, Department of Commerce
Cam Kerry is currently a partner in the Boston office of Mintz Levin, a national law firm.  In over 30 years of law practice, he has been a communications lawyer and a litigator in a range of complex, developing areas such as environmental law, toxic torts, privacy, and insurance regulation.  He has also taught telecommunications law as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School and written and presented on communications, evidence, and environmental issues in a variety of industry and academic settings.  He was a senior advisor and national surrogate for the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign.  Mr. Kerry also serves on boards of Citizens Schools Boston, the New England Nordic Skiing Association, and National Jewish Democratic Council.  Prior to joining Mintz Levin, Mr. Kerry was an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and a law clerk for Judge Elbert Tuttle of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  He received his B.A. cum laude from Harvard College and his J.D. magna cum laude from Boston College Law School.  He and his wife Kathy Weinman have two daughters.

Robert S. Rivkin, Nominee for General Counsel, Department of Transportation
Bob Rivkin is currently Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Aon Corporation, a Chicago-based global risk management and insurance brokerage firm.  In that capacity, he is responsible for the business counseling, litigation, regulatory affairs, employment law and government affairs functions that support all of Aon’s businesses across the Americas.  Rivkin has significant experience with transportation issues.  From 2001 to 2004, he served as General Counsel of the Chicago Transit Authority, America’s second-largest transportation system, with over 4,000 buses and rail cars serving Chicago and 40 suburbs.  Rivkin has also served on the Transportation Committee of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Planning Council, helped establish and lead the Obama for America transportation policy committee, and was a member of the Department of Transportation transition team.  Previously, he practiced law as a partner at the Chicago law firm now know as Schiff Hardin, L.L.P., served as Director of Programs and Policy for the City of Chicago’s Law Department, and prosecuted federal criminal cases as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  Rivkin also has worked at the British Parliament and at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.  He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, received his J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Stanford Law Review, and clerked for Judge Joel M. Flaum of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.  Rivkin is a director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, City Year Chicago, the Metropolitan Planning Council and Leadership Greater Chicago.  He is also a member of the Chicago Inn of Court, the Economic Club of Chicago, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  Rivkin and his wife, Cindy Moelis, have two daughters (Stephanie and Claire) and a son (Alexander).

M. Patricia Smith, Nominee for Solicitor, Department of Labor
M. Patricia Smith is currently the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor and co-chair of New York State’s Economic Security sub-cabinet. She oversees the New York State Department of Labor with an annual budget of $4 billion, with 3,700 employees in 80 offices throughout the state and serves as advisor to Governor David Paterson on workforce and labor policy.  Previously, she served for 20 years in the Labor Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the last 8 as Bureau Chief.   Her responsibilities included representing the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in all State and Federal litigation and advancing an affirmative docket enforcing New York’s Labor Laws. In 1996 and 1997, she argued and won two Employment Retirement Income Security Act cases before the United States Supreme Court.  Before joining the Office of the Attorney General, she worked for a variety of Legal Services Organizations representing unemployment claimants, minimum wage workers, workers in federal job training programs and job seekers.  She is an honors graduate of Trinity College in Washington, D.C. and received her law degree, cum laude, from the New York University School of Law.