Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two members of the inaugural class of the Empire State Fellows program have been promoted to permanent senior policy-making positions within New York State government. Jennifer M. Gmez has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Human Services and Information Technology and Kisha Santiago-Martinez has been appointed Assistant Commissioner at New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).
I am pleased that these accomplished leaders will remain in my Administration as policy-makers and have no doubt they will continue to be tremendous assets to the people of our State, Governor Cuomo said. Their promotion is a testament to the effectiveness of the Empire State Fellows program in helping to attract the best and brightest to public service.
The Empire State Fellows program has shown that it is possible to bring exceptional and energetic talent into the ranks of state government, said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, who oversees the Empire State Fellows program. I congratulate Ms. Gmez and Ms. Santiago-Martinez on their new elevated roles with the administration.
The Empire State Fellows program is a full-time leadership training program that prepares the next generation of talented professionals for careers as New York State policy-makers. Professionals from diverse backgrounds are selected through a highly-competitive process that analyzes the unique skills that they bring into government, as well as their leadership potential, commitment to public service, and creativity.
The program began with a class of eight 2012-2014 Empire State Fellows, which included Ms. Gmez and Ms. Santiago-Martinez, who brought unique and needed talent to the administration. This past September, 21 individuals were named to the 2013-2015 class of Fellows.
Filling Vital Public Policy Roles
Ms. Gmez will provide oversight to several key agencies delivering important services to New Yorkers, such as the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Division of Veterans Affairs, and the Office of Information Technology Services.
Having spent her first year of the Empire State Fellowship at the Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, Ms. Gmez recently served in the Executive Chamber, applying her legal and policy expertise to improve the lives of low-income children and families. Her career in public service began at the New York City Council having served as Legislative Counsel for the General Welfare Committee, which oversees the Administration for Childrens Services, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Human Resources Administration. Previously, Ms. Gmez was a litigation associate at Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett, LLP and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law.
Ms. Gmez earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Latin American Studies, cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law where she was Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review. A director on the board of the Dominican Bar Association, the American Bar Association recently appointed her to serve on its Commission on Homelessness & Poverty.
I am honored to accept this appointment to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Human Services and Information Technology, said Ms. Gmez, a native New Yorker who speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for the opportunity to work for the people of New York State on such important matters. I look forward to a great working relationship with the agencies and the administration.
Ms. Santiago-Martinez will lead HCR initiatives and strategic planning in her oversight of the Budget Services Unit and the new Project Management Office. She will also serve as a liaison to the Office of Information Technology Services and for the various programs and fiscal activities for the Office of Finance and Development (F&D), Office of Community Renewal, Office of Housing Preservation, and Office of Professional Services.
Prior to her Empire State Fellowship, Ms. Santiago-Martinez was the Vice President and Senior Project Manager of the Rosenberg Housing Group, a private affordable housing development company that specializes in working with public housing authorities on mixed-finance projects. During that time, she worked to complete two multi-million dollar housing transformation and revitalization projects, implement a health initiative and workforce training program for public housing residents and served as the retail and community supportive services lead for the successful Prospect Plaza redevelopment proposal in Brooklyn. Ms. Santiago-Martinez is a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, who holds a Masters in Regional and Urban Planning degree and a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Albany.
I want to thank Governor Cuomo for appointing me Assistant Commissioner at New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said Ms. Santiago-Martinez, whose project management team is currently leading the several Sandy recovery-related technology efforts, including implementation of the Agate software that processes the homeowner, business, and economic development applications for funding. HCR has a tremendous impact in developing affordable housing and creating successful communities throughout New York State. I look forward to continuing to lead the agencys major initiatives and make significant contributions for the benefit of all New Yorkers.
The Empire State Fellows Program is part of Governor Cuomos new New York Leaders Initiative that recruits talented young professionals and college students to serve in State government. For more information on New Yorks efforts on diversifying its workforce meet the challenges of the 21st century, visit http://www.dos.ny.gov/newnyleaders/.