Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced six appointments to his administration, adding to the efforts of his Term Two team to implement the Governor’s bold agenda.
“Bringing new talent and energy to our administration is important as we work to expand opportunity for all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “These men and women represent the best and brightest in their respective fields, and I am proud to welcome them to the team.”
Tom Topousis has been appointed Special Adviser to the Communications Director and Director of Speechwriting. Most recently, he served as Editor in Chief of the Queens Courier and its sister publications. Before that, he spent more than 17 years at the New York Post, where he covered city and state government, transit and the reconstruction of the World Trade Center before becoming political editor in 2010, during which he oversaw coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign. He has also worked for the Bergen Record in New Jersey as well as several newspapers in New York State, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Oneonta Star and the Times-Herald Record of Middletown. Mr. Topousis studied anthropology at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Aimee Vargas has been appointed Director of Downstate Intergovernmental Affairs, which covers the Hudson Valley, NYC and Long Island. Ms. Vargas previously oversaw Governor Cuomo’s regional affairs in the Hudson Valley and served as the Mid-Hudson Regional Director of Empire State Development and the Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. Ms. Vargas also serves on the Governor's Tappan Zee Community Outreach team and will continue to do so in her new role. She was formerly Associate Counsel at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and, prior, Director of Finance for the Town of Clarkstown in Rockland County. Ms. Vargas is a member of the Rockland Community Foundation's Advisory Board and was recognized by Rockland Economic Development Corporation as a recipient of their "40 Under 40" award. She has also been recognized by the Dutchess County Exempt Volunteer Firefighters Association's Hispanic Heritage Award. Ms. Vargas is a graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Julissa Gutierrez has been appointed Deputy Director of Constituency Affairs. Ms. Gutierrez previously served in a number of roles at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, most recently as Director of National Programs and Community Relations and Northeast Director for Civic Engagement. She was Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and has had a long relationship with the Anti-Defamation League, having held various positions and participated in programs there since she was in high school. Ms. Gutierrez is Board Chair of New Immigrants Community Empowerment and a Board of Trustees for the Queens Public Library. Ms. Gutierrez has a B.A. from the University of Delaware and a M.A. from University of Chicago.
Rosemary Powers has been appointed Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Transportation. She most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Director of Government Affairs for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. She previously served as the Chief of Staff and Director of Government Affairs at the Department of Environmental Protection in Massachusetts. She has also served as the Director of Government Affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and as Chief of Staff and Policy and Legislative Director for Senator Jack Hart of Massachusetts. She was co-chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Team of the Mayor Martin J. Walsh Transition Committee. Ms. Powers has a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Suffolk University.
Tanuja Mohapatra has been appointed Director of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Financial Services. Ms. Mohapatra previously served as Chief of Staff and Counselor to New York Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, where she was instrumental in the advocacy of homeowners' rights during the financial crisis, including the passage of legislation that protected consumers from paying costly bank fees. Prior, she worked in the private sector in the areas of E-Discovery and Litigation Management representing fortune 500 companies in the financial sector, and was an attorney for Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Durham, NC engaged in pharmaceutical litigation. Ms Mohapatra is admitted in North Carolina’s 10th Judicial District and has a J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University and a B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina State University.
Catherine Youssef Kassenoff has been appointed Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for the Energy and Finance Sub-Cabinet.She most recently served as the Executive Director, Executive Counsel and Head of U.S. Litigation and Government Investigations at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals where she oversaw all U.S. litigation and government investigations. She previously served as the Director of Corporate Compliance and Litigation at Edison Learning, Inc. and was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Ms. Kassenoff has a J.D. from New York University School of Law and an A.B. from Dartmouth College.
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