California: Governor Newsom Announces Appointments 1.12.21
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SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the following appointments:

Lisa Halko, 60, of Davis, has been reappointed Chief Counsel at the Department of Conservation, where she has served in that role since 2017. Halko was an Administrative Law Judge at the California Department of Social Services from 2012 to 2017, Staff Counsel III at the California Prison Health Care Receivership from 2010 to 2012 and Associate and Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP from 2004 to 2010. She was Court Counsel, General Counsel and Court Executive Officer at the Yolo County Superior Court from 1997 to 2003 and a Sole Practitioner from 1994 to 1997. She was an Associate at Livingston & Mattesich Law Corporation from 1990 to 1994. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $179,820. Halko is a Democrat.

Jacob Roper, 39, of Sacramento, has been appointed Assistant Director of Communications at the Department of Conservation. Roper has been Assistant Secretary for Communications at the California Government Operations Agency since 2019. He was Public Affairs Director at the California Franchise Tax Board from 2015 to 2019, Communications Director at the State Treasurer's Office in 2015 and Press Secretary at the State Controller's Office from 2007 to 2014. He was Communications Specialist at the Board of Equalization from 2004 to 2007, Account Executive at Bicker, Castillo and Fairbanks in 2004 and a Press Aide in the Office of the Governor in 2003. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $125,004. Roper is registered without party preference.

Rizgar Ghazi, 58, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director of the Hazardous Waste Management Program at the Department of Toxic Substances Control, where he has served as Acting Deputy Director of the Hazardous Waste Management Program since 2017. Ghazi has served in several positions at the Department of Toxic Substances Control since 2006, including Division Chief, Permitting Division, Permitting Branch Chief and Supervising Hazardous Substances Engineer. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $180,000. Ghazi is a Democrat.

Karl Palmer, 60, of Davis, has been appointed Deputy Director of the Safer Products and Workplaces Program at the Department of Toxic Substances Control, where he has served as Acting Deputy Director of the Safer Products and Workplaces Program since 2019. Palmer has served in several positions at the Department of Toxic Substances Control since 1986, including Chief of the Safer Consumer Products Branch, Chief of the Toxics in Products Branch, Chief of the Pollution Prevention Branch, Chief of the Regulatory and Program Development Branch, Chief of the Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation and Emergency Removal Unit, Chief of the Emergency Response Unit and Associate Hazardous Materials Specialist in the Office of Military Facilities, Case Development Unit, Site Evaluation Unit and the Hazardous Waste Management Program. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $169,500. Palmer is a Democrat.

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Monica N. Vargas, 39, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director of Communications at the Department of Consumer Affairs. Vargas has been an Information Officer in the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services since 2015, where she has served in several positions since 2007, including Associate Governmental Program Analyst, Staff Services Analyst and Student Assistant. She was an Information Officer at the California Department of Consumer Affairs from 2013 to 2015. Vargas was an Intern in the Sacramento Mayor's Office from 2006 to 2007 and an Academic Tutor at Extreme Learning Inc. from 2006 to 2007. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $125,100. Vargas is registered without party preference.

Julie Li, 26, of Sacramento, has been appointed Executive Project Manager at the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. Li has served as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor since 2019. She was the Assistant to the Chief of Staff during then Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom's Transition from 2018 to 2019. Li was an Associate at Skelton Strategies from 2016 to 2018 and Public Information and Leisure Services Lead at Union WELL Inc. from 2015 to 2018. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $84,996. Li is a Democrat.

Sahana Ayer, 43, of Sacramento, has been appointed Chief Counsel at the California Department of Technology, where she has served as Acting Chief Counsel since 2020 and as Attorney IV since 2019. Ayer held Attorney III positions at the California Department of Technology and the Office of Systems Integration from 2014 to 2019. She was an Attorney at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development from 2013 to 2014. Ayer was a Staff Attorney for Orange County, North Carolina from 2009 to 2013. She was an Associate at the Schinner Law Group from 2007 to 2008. Ayer earned a Master of Laws degree from the National Law School of India University and a Juris Doctor degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,352. Ayer is a Democrat.

John D. Mann, 54, of Sacramento, has been reappointed Deputy Director of Legislation at the California Department of Technology, where he has served in that position since 2017. Mann was Communications Director in the Office of California State Senator Tony Mendoza from 2014 to 2017. He was Communications Director on the Alex Padilla for Secretary of State Campaign from 2013 to 2014 and in the Office of California State Senator Alex Padilla from 2011 to 2014. He was Communications Director on the Pedro Nava for Attorney General Campaign from 2009 to 2010 and in the Office of California State Assemblymember Pedro Nava from 2006 to 2010. Mann was a Consultant for the California State Senate Democratic Caucus from 1999 to 2005 and in the Office of California State Senator Jack O'Connell from 1995 to 1998. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Niger from 1988 to 1991. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $125,616. Mann is a Democrat.

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Amy Norris, 53, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Director of Communications at the California Department of Technology. Norris has served as Media Relations Manager at the California State Teachers' Retirement System since 2019. She was Section Chief of Strategic Communications at the Financial Information System for California from 2016 to 2019. Norris was Chief of Communications for the Office of Spill Prevention and Response at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2016. She was Assistant Director of Communications at the California Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2016. Norris was an Information Office II at the California Public Employees' Retirement System from 2011 to 2013. She was an Information Office at the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery from 2009 to 2011. Norris held several positions at the Department of Water Resources from 2005 to 2009, including Information Officer and Staff Services Analyst. Norris is a member of the California State Information Officer's Council. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $140,000. Norris is a Democrat.

Vitaliy Panych, 35, of El Dorado Hills, has been appointed State Chief Information Security Officer at the California Department of Technology, where he has been Acting State Chief Information Security Officer since 2019. Panych was Agency Chief Information Security and Privacy Officer at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2016 to 2019. He was Security and Compliance Manager at the Employment Development Department from 2009 to 2016. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $164,580. Panych is registered without party preference.

Aaron Stockwell, 54, of Fair Oaks, has been reappointed to the California Building Standards Commission, where he has served since 2020. Stockwell has been Executive Director of the California State Pipe Trades Council since 2020. He was Financial Secretary and Business Manager at UA Local 447 from 2014 to 2020. He was Piping Superintendent for Airco Mechanical from 1999 to 2013 and an Apprentice Plumber-Pipefitter-Welder for UA Local 447 from 1990 to 1995. Stockwell is a board member of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Stockwell is a Democrat.

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