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Governor Newsom Announces Appointments 9.3.20


SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the following appointments:

Kenneth A. August, 66, of Fair Oaks, has been reappointed Assistant Director of External Affairs at the California Department of State Hospitals, where he has served in that position since 2013. August was Chief of Risk Communication at the California Department of Public Health from 2006 to 2013. He held multiple positions at the California Department of Health Services from 1987 to 2006, including Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Information Officer. August was a Reporter and Managing Editor at KFBK Radio from 1983 to 1987. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $118,920. August is a Democrat.

Michael Barsom, 50, of La Canada-Flintridge, has been reappointed Executive Director of the Metropolitan State Hospital at the California Department of State Hospitals, where he has served in that position since 2019. Barsom served as Executive Director of Patton State Hospital from 2017 to 2019. He held several positions for the Metropolitan State Hospital at the Department of State Hospitals from 2003 to 2017, including Executive Director, Medical Director, Chief of Medical Staff and Staff Psychiatrist in Inpatient Forensic Setting. He was Psychiatrist Emergency Physician at Olive View and the University of California, Los Angeles from 1999 to 2005. Barsom was a Resident in Training in Psychiatry and a Fellow in Forensic Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1999 to 2004. Barsom earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $364,980. Barsom is a Republican.

Christine M. Ciccotti, 39, of Davis, has been reappointed Chief Counsel at the California Department of State Hospitals, where she has served as Chief Counsel since 2018. Ciccotti served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Correctional Law Section at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2014 to 2018. She was a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Contract Management Agency from 2012 to 2013 and an Assistant General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons from 2009 to 2012. Ciccotti served in several positions for the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps at Nellis Air Force Base and Travis Air Force Base from 2006 to 2009, including Trial Counsel, Chief of Contract Law, Chief of Civil Law, Chief of Adverse Actions and Chief of Claims. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $197,196. Ciccotti is a Democrat.

Thomas Dey, 70, of Sacramento, has been reappointed Assistant Director of Legislation at the California Department of State Hospitals, where he has served in that position since 2013. Dey was Director of Public and Government Affairs at SCAN Health Plan from 2006 to 2012 and a Real Estate and Planning Consultant at Strategic Real Estate Services Inc. from 2001 to 2006. He was Regional Director of Government Affairs at AT&T Wireless Services Inc. from 2000 to 2001. Dey was Vice President of Government Affairs at Blue Shield of California from 1996 to 2000 and at Goddard Claussen Public Affairs from 1995 to 1996. He was vice President of Government Relations at National Medical Enterprises and Tenet Health Care from 1985 to 1995 and a Consultant and Staff Director for the California State Assembly, Minority Caucus from 1973 to 1984. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $124,632. Dey is a Republican.

Jennifer P. Seeger, 49, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director of the Division of Financial Assistance at the Department of Housing and Community Development. Seeger has served as Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Financial Assistance at the Department of Housing and Community Development since 2019, where she has served in several positions since 2003, including, Assistant Deputy Director (CEA) of the Division of Financial Assistance and Senior Housing Policy Manager of the Department’s Division of Housing Policy Development. She was an Associate Development Specialist from 2002 to 2003 and an Associate Information Systems Analyst from 2000 to 2002 at the California Technology, Trade, and Commerce Agency. Seeger was a Quality Improvement Specialist at Brown and Toland Physician Services Organization from 1998 to 2000. She was a Claims Reviewer at CNA Insurance, Specialty Claims Division from 1998 to 1999. Seeger was a Congress-Bundestag Young Professionals Fellow in 1997, where she worked for the City of Leipzig’s Municipal Office of Economic Development. She earned a Master of Public Administration degree in international public administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $159,000. Seeger is a Democrat.

Veronica Rodriguez Harms, 39, of Woodland, has been appointed Deputy Secretary of External Affairs at the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency. Harms has been Deputy Director of Communications at the California Department of Consumer Affairs since 2016. She was a Consultant and Media Specialist at the Senate Democratic Caucus from 2012 to 2016. Harms was Account Supervisor at Ogilvy Public Relations from 2007 to 2012. She was Account Executive at KCRA 3 Television from 2004 to 2007. Harms was a Local Sales Assistant at KOVR 13 Television in 2003. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Davis. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $140,004. Harms is a Democrat.

James “Russ” L. Heimerich, 60, of Sacramento, has been reappointed Deputy Secretary of Communications at the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, where he has served in that position since 2015. Heimerich held multiple positions at the Department of Consumer Affairs from 1997 to 2015, including Deputy Director of Communications, Chief of the Office of Public Affairs (Information Office II) and Information Officer I. He was an Analyst (Information Officer II) for the Customer Service Team at California Performance Review from 2004 to 2005. Heimerich was Information Officer II at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2000 to 2005. He was Government and Community Relations Manager at Comcast from 1999 to 2000. Heimerich was a Broadcast and Writing Instructor at California State University, Sacramento from 1996 to 1998. He was Morning Edition Host and Producer at KXPR/KXJZ, Inc. (Capital Public Radio) from 1986 to 1995. Heimerich earned a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Ohio State University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $143,172. Heimerich is a Democrat.

Lynn von Koch-Liebert, 36, of Carmichael, has been reappointed Deputy Secretary of Housing and Consumer Services at the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, where she has served in that position since 2017. Von Koch-Liebert held multiple positions at DynCorp International LLC, including Vice President of Business Development Operations in 2016, Vice President of Business Development, DynLogistics from 2014 to 2016, Staff Director, DynLogistics in 2014 and Director of Business and Operations for the Criminal Justice Program Support Contract from 2013 to 2014. She was a Graduate Fellow at the Joint Chief of Staff, Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell in 2010. Von Koch-Liebert held multiple positions at the United Nations Office for Project Services, including Communications and Reporting Officer from 2006 to 2009. She earned a Master of Public Affairs degree with a concentration in international relations from Princeton University and a Master of Science degree in international security from Cranfield Defense Academy of the United Kingdom. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $172,008. Von Koch-Liebert is a Democrat.

Grace Arupo Rodriguez, 42, of Roseville, has been reappointed Assistant Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the Department of Consumer Affairs, where she has served in that position since 2017. Arupo Rodriguez was Deputy Director of Legal Affairs in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development from 2013 to 2017. She was Senior Deputy Counsel in the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office from 2012 to 2013. Arupo Rodriguez was Corporate Counsel at the California Independent System Operator from 2007 to 2012. She was an Attorney at Downey Brand LLP from 2002 to 2006. Arupo Rodriguez was a Minority Summer Fellow at Wilke Fleury LLP in 2000. She is a member of Pilipino National Day Association (PNDA)/Filipino Fork and the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento. Arupo Rodriguez earned a Juris Doctor degree from University of California, Davis School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $179,484. Arupo Rodriguez is a Democrat.

Ryan W. Marcroft, 42, of Carmichael, has been reappointed Deputy Director for Legal Affairs at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, where he has served in that position since 2017 and where he served as Assistant Chief Counsel from 2016 to 2017. Marcroft was Deputy Attorney General III-IV in the Office of the Attorney General, Government Law Section from 2010 to 2016. He was Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary in the Office of the Governor from 2006 to 2010. Marcroft was Staff Attorney at the Institute for Administrative Justice from 2004 to 2006. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $183,348. Marcroft is registered without party preference.

Maria Luisa Cesar, 34, of San Antonio, TX, has been appointed Deputy Commissioner of Communications for the Department of Business Oversight. Cesar has been Owner and Chief Storyteller at Greater Good LLC since 2018. She was Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Communications Director in the Office of Mayor Ron Nirenberg from 2017 to 2018, where she also served as LGBTQ Liaison. Cesar was Communications and Community Outreach Director at the Office of District 8 City Councilman Ron Nirenberg from 2015 to 2017. She was an Education Reporter at San Antonio Express-News from 2011 to 2015. Cesar is a member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists and New Leaders Council – San Antonio. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $131,004. Cesar is a Democrat.

Diana Vasquez Ballesteros, 34, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director of Legislation at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Vazquez Ballesteros has been a Policy Manager at California Environmental Justice Alliance since 2017. She was a Policy Advocate at Sierra Club California from 2015 to 2016. Vazquez Ballesteros was a Legislative Assistant in the Office of State Assemblymember Ed Chau from 2012 to 2015. She was a Legislative Assistant and a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow in the Office of State Assemblymember Mike Eng from 2011 to 2012. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $134,904. Vazquez Ballesteros is a Democrat.

Brenda D. Grealish, 45, of Folsom, has been appointed Executive Officer for the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health. Grealish has served as Chief for the Medi-Cal Behavioral Health Division at the California Department of Health Care Services since 2019, where she has served in several positions since 2013, including Chief of the former Mental Health Services Division and Assistant Deputy and Acting Deputy Director for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services. She held several positions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Research from 2009 to 2013, including Deputy Director, Research Manager III and Research Manager II. Grealish held several positions at the former California Department of Mental Health from 1999 to 2009, including Research Program Specialist I, Research Analyst II and Research Analyst I. She earned a Master of Arts degree in psychology from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $155,820. Grealish is registered without party preference.

Antonio “Yobie” Benjamin, 61, of Fremont, has been appointed to the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. Benjamin has been a Partner at the PA Consulting Group since 2018. He was Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Token.io from 2014 to 2019. Benjamin was Global Chief Technology Officer at Citibank from 2011 to 2013. He is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Benjamin is a Democrat.

Francisco Silva, 46, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the California Health Facilities and Financing Authority. Silva has been General Counsel and Senior Vice President at the California Medical Association since 2006. He was Vice President and Counsel of Legislative Affairs at the California Apartment Association from 2004 to 2006. Silva was an Associate at Downey Brand LLP from 2003 to 2004 and at Heller Ehrman LLP from 2001 to 2003. Silva was a Judicial Law Clerk for Judge Jeremy Fogel at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California from 2000 to 2001. He was a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow in the Office of State Assemblymember Denise Moreno Ducheny from 1996 to 1997. Silva is a member of Cien Amigos, the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Board of Directors, CalHIPSO Board of Directors and the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys. He is a board member of Gil Basketball Academy, senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and president of the American Society of Medical Association Counsel. Silva earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Silva is a Democrat.

Benjamin A. Aviles, 36, of Los Angeles, has been reappointed to the State Rehabilitation Council, where he has served since 2018. Aviles has been an Associate at Revolution Financial Management since 2017 and a Financial Professional at World Financial Group Inc. since 2014. He was a Receptionist at the Glendale Community College High Tech Center from 2007 to 2008 and an Associate at Pre-Paid Legal Inc. in 2006. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Aviles is a Democrat.

Nicolas Wavrin, 45, of Carmichael, has been reappointed to the State Rehabilitation Council, where he has served since 2018. Wavrin has been an Educational Programs Consultant of the Programs and Partnerships Unit at the California Department of Education since 2018, where he was an Educational Programs Consultant of the Focused Monitoring and Technical Assistance Unit from 2016 to 2018. He was Vice Principal at Al Sadara Model School from 2014 to 2016 and Head of the English Department at Al Nahyaneia Model School from 2013 to 2014. Wavrin was a Teacher at Al-Hayer School for Boys from 2010 to 2013 and at Al-Arqam College Preparatory from 2003 to 2010. He earned a Master of Science degree in educational leadership from the University of Leicester. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Wavrin is a Republican.

Kecia B. Weller, 56, of Santa Monica, has been reappointed to the State Rehabilitation Council, where she has served since 2017. Weller has been Self-Advocacy and Community Liaison for the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of California, Los Angeles Tarjan Center since 2012. She was Advocacy Director at People First of California from 2011 to 2012, where she was Interim Executive Director in 2011, President in 2010 and State Advocacy Reporter from 1996 to 1999. Weller was a Teacher Assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles Extension Pathway Program from 2008 to 2010 and a Coordinator for Self-Advocacy at the Westside Regional Center from 1998 to 2010. She is a member of the California Statewide Self-Advocacy Network, Developmental Services Taskforce, NoVo Coalition Advisory and Board Resource Center Abuse Prevention Advisory Team. Weller is national co-chair of the Peer Support Network at the National Adult Protective Services Association. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Weller is registered without party preference.

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