Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced eight appointments to his administration, continuing to add to his second term team.
“These individuals will help build upon the progress that has been made over the last four years by bringing new ideas and new innovations to the administration as we seek to further expand opportunity for all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “I welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to move this state forward.”
Matthew Driscoll will be nominated to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. Mr. Driscoll previously served as President and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, where he implemented new business models which have resulted in record-setting investments in New York State’s clean water infrastructure. Mr. Driscoll has also held a number of cabinet positions in Governor Cuomo’s administration, including Co-Chair of the New York State Storm Recovery Task Force, member of the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team to assist in the progress of the Regional Economic Development Council, and board member of the Financial Restructuring Board, which delivers targeted restructuring solutions to assist New York municipalities under fiscal stress. Prior to these roles, Mr. Driscoll was twice elected mayor of the City of Syracuse. As Mayor, Mr. Driscoll’s action plan for energy conservation, sustainability initiatives and environmental protection efforts earned Syracuse national recognition. He also instituted a performance-based accountability program for city government, called SyraStat, which saved millions of dollars for city taxpayers. Mr. Driscoll’s nomination will require Senate confirmation.
Ron Thaniel has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Transportation. Mr. Thaniel has nearly two decades of transportation experience at federal, state, local and international levels on investments needed to rebuild and modernize transportation infrastructure. He previously served as Founder and Principal of Thaniel Government Relations LLC, a transportation consulting firm. Prior to that, Mr. Thaniel was Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials in New York, where he advised city transportation commissioners on the federal reauthorization for highway and transit programs. Mr. Thaniel served as Assistant Executive Director for The United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. from 2002 to 2007 and again from 2008 to 2011, where he led transportation policy and represented mayors before Congress and federal agencies and before international organizations and governments. Mr. Thaniel was also Director of Government Affairs – Northeast United States for Amtrak and was transportation aide to former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. Featured by Governing Magazine as “The Man Behind U.S. Transportation’s Future,” Mr. Thaniel has served on executive committees of numerous national transportation organizations, and is a member of the Washington, D.C. transportation think tank Eno Center for Transportation Policy. Mr. Thaniel has a B.A. from Morgan State University and an M.P.A. from Hamline University.
Karen Rae has been appointed Senior Advisor for Innovative Project Delivery for Empire State Development. Ms. Rae, a nationally-recognized transportation expert with over 35 years of related experience, previously served as Governor Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Transportation, a position she held since 2011. In this role, she oversaw and coordinated budget, policy and the Governor’s initiatives within the transportation portfolio, including the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Thruway/Canals corporation, MTA, Department of Motor Vehicles, Port Authority of NY/NJ and New York State Bridge Authority. She has been directly involved in representing Governor Cuomo during the passage of New York State’s first Design/Build legislation, coordinating transportation agencies efforts to expedite environmental review and procurement of the project. Before joining the Cuomo Administration, Ms. Rae served as Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration in the Obama Administration, where she managed the federal high speed rail initiative and developed national freight and passenger rail policy. Prior to this role, Ms. Rae was Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State Department of Transportation and, prior, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, leading the effort to successfully negotiate a public/private partnership agreement and securing authorization to advance the Dulles Rail Project. Ms. Rae was named WTS International Woman of the Year in 2010. She has a B.S. from East Stroudsburg State College.
Lola W. Brabham has been appointed Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Civil Service. Previously, Ms. Brabham served as Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Chief and Financial Officer for the State Department of Labor and, prior, was Assistant Chief Budget Examiner for the State Division of the Budget. She was Assistant Secretary for Health, Medicaid and Oversight and Director of Human Services in the Executive Chamber under Governor David Paterson. She was also a Legislative Budget Analyst for the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and, early in her career, was Chief of Staff to Assemblyman N. Nick Perry. Ms. Brabham has a dual B.A. in Criminal Justice and Sociology from the State University of New York and an M.P.A. from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
Christopher J. Schoepflin has been appointed Western New York Regional Director, Director of Special Initiatives & President of USA Niagara. Mr. Schoepflin has served as President of the Corporation since 2005 and will be gaining additional responsibilities as Regional Director and Director of Special Initiatives. He previously served as Senior Project Manager for the Corporation and, prior to his time there, worked for the Buffalo Sabres for ten years, including five as a member of the senior management team. Mr. Schoepflin has a B.S. in Business Administration from the State University of New York.
Felisa Hochheiser has been appointed Special Counsel to the President & CEO for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for Empire State Development, where she will work with ESD’s Director of Compliance and Senior Counsel for ethics. For over five years, Ms. Hochheiser served as Director of Investigative Reporting and Special Counsel in the Office of the New York State Inspector General, where she led major investigations into criminal activity and abuses of office in New York State. Prior to that, she was principal law clerk to New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard Lee Price. She was also an associate at Hochheiser & Hochheiser, LLP. Ms. Hochheiser obtained a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Barbara Comninos Kruzansky has been appointed Special Counsel to the Commissioner for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for the Office of Children and Family Services. Ms. Kruzansky most recently served as Lawyer in Residence at Albany Law School’s Government Law Center, where she worked on priority projects for the Law School’s legal and public policy research center. She previously served as a Senior Court Attorney for the New York State Court of Appeals. Ms. Kruzansky has a B.S. from Cornell University and a J.D., summa cum laude, from Albany Law School of Union University.
Adam W. Silverman has been appointed Special Counsel to the Commissioner for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Mr. Silverman previously served as an associate at Greenberg Traurig LLP focusing on complex civil litigation, regulatory and administrative law, governmental investigations and litigation, and media and First Amendment law. Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig LLP, he served in the New York State Attorney General’s Office as an Assistant Attorney General in the Litigation Bureau. While there, Mr. Silverman represented state agencies and their employees and was trial counsel for state employees in six different federal lawsuits. He spends his free time as a volunteer attorney at The Legal Project in Albany, NY, where he was the recipient of the Stanley A. Rosen Memorial Award for Service to Victims of Domestic Violence in 2014. Mr. Silverman has a B.A. from The George Washington University and a J.D. from Albany Law School.