Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a number of new appointments to his administration.
"Over the past seven years, this administration has worked hard and made great strides toward creating a stronger and more just New York for all," Governor Cuomo said. "I am proud to welcome these talented and dedicated individuals to their new roles on our team where, together, we will continue to move this great state forward."
Cathy Calhoun has been appointed Director of State Operations. Previously, Ms. Calhoun served as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, leading the Governor's landmark $100 billion, five-year infrastructure plan to help reduce congestion and air pollution, and improve the safety of motorists on New York roads. Ms. Calhoun previously served as Chief of Staff at the Department of Transportation. Ms. Calhoun previously served as Deputy Comptroller for Intergovernmental Affairs for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and as a Central New York representative for former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. Ms. Calhoun also previously worked for former Governor David Paterson in intergovernmental affairs.
Linda Lacewell has been appointed Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Governor. In that senior role, Ms. Lacewell will oversee Executive Chamber operations, as well as ethics and law enforcement matters. Ms. Lacewell most recently served as executive director of the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 at the Chan Soon-Shiong NantHealth Foundation in Santa Monica, California. Prior to that, Ms. Lacewell served as chief risk officer and counselor to Governor Cuomo where she built and implemented the first statewide system for ethics, risk and compliance in agencies and authorities. Ms. Lacewell was formerly special counsel to the Governor, as well as the architect of OpenNY, a state-of-the-art open data initiative. She also served as special counsel to Attorney General Cuomo, where she oversaw the public pension fund pay-to-play investigation and the out-of-network health insurance investigation, both of which led to nationwide systemic reform. Prior to that, Ms. Lacewell spent nine years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, including two years on the Enron Task Force, and received the Henry L. Stimson Medal and the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service. Ms. Lacewell earned her B.A. from New College of the University of South Florida and her J.D. with honors from the University of Miami School of Law. She clerked for a United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida. She formerly served as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, teaching ethics in government, we as well as an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, teaching international criminal law.
Letizia Tagliafierro has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs and Special Counsel to the Governor. Ms. Tagliafierro presently serves as Special Counsel for Public Safety. Prior to that, Ms. Tagliafierro served as Deputy Commissioner of the Criminal Investigations Division at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and as the Executive Director and Director of Investigations and Enforcement of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Ms. Tagliafierro also served as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Executive Chamber, Special Counsel for the New York State Attorney General, and Assistant District Attorney in Erie County. Ms. Tagliafierro holds a J.D. from Albany Law School and B.A. from SUNY University at Albany.
Paul Karas has been appointed Commissioner of the Department of Transportation to continue the Governor's $100 billion investment plan to modernize aging infrastructure across the state. Before joining the Cuomo Administration, Mr. Karas served for four years as Vice President and Manager of RS&H, Inc., a transportation and buildings infrastructure consulting firm. Prior to that, he served as President and Founder of Karas Associates Co., an infrastructure development consultancy. Mr. Karas has extensive experience working at the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, where he served as director of the $3.2 billion John F. Kennedy International Airport Redevelopment Program, and he previously served as the Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Chicago for three years. In 2004, Mr. Karas was appointed by the Illinois legislature to the Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Task Force, and in 1997, he was appointed by the U.S. House of Representatives to the Blue-Ribbon Advisory Committee for developing solutions to funding and operating concerns regarding Amtrak. Mr. Karas received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and a MBA from the University of Michigan.
Richard White has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Public Safety. Previously, Mr. White led the Tenant Protection Unit at New York State Homes and Community Renewal, a unique statewide unit which proactively enforces landlord obligations to tenants and imposes strict penalties for failure to comply with HCR orders and New York's rent laws. Prior to working for Governor Cuomo, Richard R. White served as Of Counsel to the commercial real estate firm of Cyruli Shanks LLP, with a focus in government affairs, compliance, and complex criminal litigation. Before Cyruli Shanks, Mr. White served at the highest levels of governmental agencies and authorities in New York City; serving as Deputy Commissioner for Investigation, Trials & Litigation at the New York City Department of Correction and Deputy Commissioner of Operations at the New York City Department of Probation. Previously, for over a decade, Mr. White served as a Senior Trial Attorney for Robert M. Morgenthau in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Mr. White received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Franklin & Marshall College, his law degree from Delaware Law School, was an Executive Education Graduate at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and was a recipient of Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation for Senior Executives. Commissioner White is admitted to practice law before the courts of New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, the United States District Courts of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and before the United States Supreme Court.
Peter Ajemian has been appointed Deputy Communications Director for Transportation. Prior to joining the Governor's Office, he served as Chief of Staff to State Senator Brad Hoylman. Previously, he was the primary spokesman and Senior Adviser for Communications on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's successful re-election campaign. He has also served as Senior Vice President at the consulting firm Marathon Strategies, where he coordinated communications and research strategy on four successful state ballot initiatives legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. He is a graduate of Boston University and The New School.