BLOG: Meet the Women of the Wolf Administration

Today is International Women’s Day — and what better way to celebrate than to introduce you to some of the key women leading Governor Wolf’s administration? We’ll go in alphabetical order:

Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)

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Secretary Dunn has worked in both the public and private sectors. She served in several leadership posts at DCNR over two decades, including as deputy secretary where she led the department’s conservation landscape program and oversaw the Community Conservation Partnerships grant program, as well as leading environmental advocacy groups like Audubon Pennsylvania, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and PennFuture. She is trained as a biologist, and when not at work championing conservation her hobbies include birding, fishing, canoeing and hiking.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“Pennsylvania conservation leaders like Mira Lloyd Dock, Rachel Carson and Rosalie Edge — who’s legacies include the City Beautiful movement and acquisition of state forests, Silent Spring and Hawk Mountain — are tremendous models of the special determination that women can bring to solving the tough problems that face society and our natural world.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“As we face major challenges such as global warming, young women should take inspiration from these role models and know that their actions can bring change and make a difference to the future of our commonwealth and the world.”

Sarah Galbally, Secretary of Policy and Planning for Governor Wolf

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Sarah Galbally previously served as the policy director for the Wolf for Governor Campaign. Sarah has experience in both the government and nonprofit sectors. As a graduate student, she worked for the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority focusing on municipal financial policy and as a mayor’s Intern for the City of Philadelphia where she performed a functional audit of in-kind services provided between the School District of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia. Prior to that, Sarah ran the community volunteer programs, family initiatives, and special projects for a children’s literacy organization in Philadelphia. A Pennsylvania native, Sarah has a B.A. in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.A. from Villanova University.

Mary Isenhour, Chief of Staff for Governor Wolf

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Mary Isenhour most recently served as Governor Tom Wolf’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs. She began her career as a staffer in the Kansas House of Representatives, where from 1991 to 1995, Mary was chief of staff to the Democratic Leader. It was here where Mary worked across party lines to advance legislation that improved the lives of the citizens of Kansas.

In this role, Mary worked with leadership and committee members to develop and implement committee and floor strategies, and she worked on developing legislative strategy and building coalitions that resulted in legislation in numerous areas. Mary also served as liaison between the Leader and other elected officials, agencies, and political entities. From 1995 to 1999, Mary served as a national political director for the Washington, D.C. based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and from 1999 to 2003, Mary served as executive director of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC). Following her time at HDCC, Mary served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and as state director for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign. Mary has also owned a consulting firm and served as senior strategist to Tom Wolf for Governor.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“A career in public service not only enriches the lives of others and the world we live in, it will enrich and fulfill your life in ways you never thought possible.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Be kind. Kindness is not a weakness or means that you are a pushover. Being kind to others, even those you disagree with, demonstrates respect. When you listen to others, they listen to you. Others would prefer to negotiate and work with those who treat them with kindness rather than those that treat them with disdain. And being kind to others makes you feel better as well.”

Dr. Rachel Levine, Physician General

Dr. Rachel Levine, physician general nominee, is seen at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Daniel Shanken

Dr. Levine is an expert in pediatrics and psychiatry. While at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Levine led the initiation of a Division of Adolescent Medicine for the care of complex teens with medical and psychological problems. She also started the Penn State Hershey Eating Disorders Program, which offers multidisciplinary treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In her role as physician general, Dr. Levine advises the governor and secretary of the Department of Health on medical and public health-related issues.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“I am a strident believer in the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Diversity helps us all and promotes growth in an organization by bringing multiple points of view to the table. It is so important to have women, including LGBT women, pursue careers in public service, to ensure that all perspective have a seat at the table.”

Kathy Manderino, Secretary of Labor and Industry

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Prior to her appointment, Secretary Manderino was campaign manager of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a broad-based statewide coalition that advocates for a fair and adequate funding formula for public education in Pennsylvania. She previously served as senior vice president of Intercommunity Action Inc., and for 18 years was a Pennsylvania state representative for the 194th district in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Prior to being elected to public office, Manderino was a private practice attorney in Philadelphia. Manderino’s career has come full circle: Her first post-college positions were with the Council for Labor and Industry and the Philadelphia Area Labor-Management Committee.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“It’s important for women to be at a diverse table of participants in order for the best possible decisions to be made for the public. Women are an equal force in the workforce and in the public sector women make decisions every day that affect people’s lives, families, communities. It’s imperative that all people, including women, are involved in the effective operation of government. The value of public service is that people who have a passion for serving can make a big difference in their neighborhoods, communities, and our broader society through a career in public service.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Just do it! Pursue your passions and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t succeed.”

Eileen McNulty, Secretary of Revenue

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Secretary McNulty previously held this position under Governor Robert Casey from January 1991 through January 1995, and was executive deputy secretary from 2003 to 2006. From 2011 to 2013, she served in the Office of the Budget as the Quality Assurance Director within in the Office of Comptroller Operations. She has also served as Deputy Accountability Officer for the commonwealth’s Stimulus Accountability Office and Chief Financial Officer with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. McNulty graduated cum laude from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“Increasing diversity is a key driver of innovation in our economy and will make our democracy stronger. When key decision makers in the public sector reflect the population, it sets a tone for the entire organization and broadens the range of expertise, experience and ideas that governments and all communities need to thrive today. Furthermore, expanding the number and influence of women in public service positions creates powerful role models for young girls to know they can be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to break down barriers and encourage more women to serve their community whether through elected office or managing large agencies, to working with entrepreneurs or serving as members of law enforcement to keep our communities safe.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“The mission of government is to help its citizens in one way or another. For that reason, government is a great place to make a difference and contribute to a better life for people. Follow your heart to the kind of work you enjoy doing and you’ll likely find a place where that interest intersects with government. If you enjoy your work, your natural talents will be engaged and you’ll succeed.”

Teresa Miller, Insurance Commissioner

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Teresa Miller has extensive experience in the health sector at both the state and federal levels. She is the former administrator of the Oregon Insurance Division, where she received national recognition for her efforts to improve the rates review process. She also served as acting director of the State Exchanges Group, the Oversight Group, and the Insurance Programs Group at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Miller helped CMS roll out the regulations and guided the implementation of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“As women make up a little more than half of the population served by our government, it’s critical that decision makers in government reflect that population.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“I would encourage women to put themselves out there for promotions and be willing to take risks to move up the ladder.”

Sharon Minnich, Secretary of the Office of Administration

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Sharon Minnich has extensive experience in state government in the areas of administration, information technology, budget, tax and revenue, and procurement. She has served as the assistant chief information officer for the Commonwealth; chief information officer for the Department of Revenue; deputy secretary for financial administration in the Governor’s Office of the Budget; and deputy secretary for procurement at the Department of General Services. In addition to her work in state government, she has worked as a consultant in the private sector, specializing in procurement and technology. Her experience includes positions at Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Meridian Bank, SAP Business Consulting, Phoenix Consulting Services and Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Minnich has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Albright College and a Master’s Degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.​

On the importance of women entering public service:

“The work we do in government affects the lives of citizens in so many ways. The roads we drive, the trails we hike, the schools that teach are children are all possible because of public servants. Public service is a calling which is founded in the democratic principles of this country. A career in public service is an opportunity to affect and improve Pennsylvania. It is meaningful, challenging, and fulfilling to know that your daily work contributes to something bigger than you.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Own your accomplishments. In other words, be proud of the work you have done and do not be afraid to speak about what you have done to transform or lead initiatives. When offered a seat at the table, know that someone asked you there because they believe in you and what you have accomplished. Take opportunities that may seem like a stretch or take you outside of your comfort zone because that is when you learn and grow. And, when you reach a leadership position, pay it back by providing opportunities to others.”

Dr. Karen Murphy, Secretary of Health

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Dr. Karen Murphy was formerly the director of the State Innovation Models Initiative at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Dr. Murphy has an extensive career in healthcare administration and consulting. She was the former president and chief executive officer of the Moses Taylor Health Care System. Prior to becoming CEO of Moses Taylor Health Care System, Dr. Murphy served in various roles in health care administration. As founding chief executive officer of Physicians Health Alliance, Inc. (PHA), Dr. Murphy also led an integrated medical group practice within Moses Taylor Health Care System. Dr. Murphy recently served as a clinical faculty member in the Medicine Department at The Commonwealth Medical College. Dr. Murphy earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, a Master of Business Administration from Marywood University, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Scranton, and a diploma as a registered nurse from the Scranton State Hospital School of Nursing.

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“My first piece of advice is to identify your passion and then study it intensively. Also study leadership. Many think that leadership is innate, but it is not. Effective leadership requires skill and knowledge. Seek a mentor who has the same value system that you do. A strong mentor will be invaluable as you move through your career. Considering all that, you should start with serving in positions that play to your strengths while focusing on building new skills. Your success and expanded skill set will enable you to continue to move toward your goal in leadership.”

Teresa Osborne, Secretary of Aging

Teresa Osborne, Secretary of the Department of Aging speaking to older Pennsylvanians.

Teresa Osborne was a catalyst in the effort to enact “Peggy’s Law,” which was designed to enhance Pennsylvania’s response to elder abuse and exploitation. She also helped form a four-county, non-profit Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium (NBHCC), which implemented Pennsylvania’s mandatory managed care program serving over 90,000 members who receive Medical Assistance. Osborne also served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Law Enforcement & Mental Health in the City of Scranton.​

On the importance of women entering public service:

“I believe it’s important that we ensure that decision making bodies at all levels of government – local, state and federal – reflect the diversity of the societies they represent. To this end, female role models in leadership positions can help to inspire younger women and girls in their pursuit of a career in public service.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Your voice is essential to shaping the future of our world. Courageously speaking up for what you believe in and sharing your gifts and talents in service to others are powerful tools that can effect positive change.”

Leslie Richards, Secretary of Transportation

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Secretary Richards has extensive leadership experience in the management of transportation projects both in her private sector work in the planning and engineering fields over the past two decades, as well as in her work in local government. Her private and public sector backgrounds give her a unique perspective on understanding stakeholder issues, and on the importance of bringing projects to completion on time and on budget. In the private sector, Richards served as a senior project manager at a woman-owned civil engineering firm. In addition, she served as a public involvement specialist at a consulting firm. In the public sector, Secretary Richards focused on transportation and planning issues. She served as the vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, where she lead the transportation and planning initiatives for the third largest county in the Commonwealth. Secretary Richards is a graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in economics and urban studies. She received a master’s of regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

On the importance of women entering public service:

“Public service is where important decisions that impact our daily lives are made. In Pennsylvania, women make up 51% of the population, but we are not even close to 51% of the voices heard. Diverse viewpoints lead to better solutions for all of us.”

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Embrace being uncomfortable. Wonderful things happen outside of your comfort zone.”

Denise Smyler, General Counsel

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Denise Smyler is the founding attorney and owner of the Smyler Firm, which united with Wadud Ahmad and Joseph Zaffarese to form Ahmad, Zaffarese & Smyler, LLC in September 2013. In 2011, Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Denise to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Board. Mayor Nutter also picked Smyler to serve on the nominating panel for the Board of Property Assessment Appeals. Previously, Denise worked as an assistant district attorney and as legal counsel to the Philadelphia Prison Commissioner before being appointed chief legal counsel to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner. While serving as counsel to the Prison System and Police Department, Denise also advised and represented the city in State and Federal Court proceedings relative to labor matters and worked on drafting and negotiating contracts on behalf of city agencies. Denise has a degree from New York University and earned her J.D. from Georgetown University. ​

Robin Wiessmann, Secretary of Banking and Securities

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Robin Wiessmann previously served as the Pennsylvania state treasurer from 2007 to 2009, where she was the primary fiduciary and custodian of $120 billion and created a new strategic framework for the office. As a public finance professional, Wiessmann has worked throughout her career to fund projects related to infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, as well as serving in banking and regulatory positions. She has worked extensively on financing plans, credit analysis, securities, and regulatory practices. Wiessmann was also a Founding Principal and President of Artemis Capital Group, the first women-owned investment banking firm on Wall Street. Prior to co-founding Artemis, she served as a Vice President of Public Finance at Goldman Sachs.

Message to young women pursuing a career in government:

“Many women seeking leadership roles for themselves are being asked to step outside of a comfort zone and take on the role they know — intrinsically and inherently – they are capable of fulfilling, but nevertheless can be very scary and difficult. The good news is that women are not alone in this endeavor. More and more women are accepting and embracing the opportunity to become leaders. More and more women are holding themselves out as role models. More and more women are creating empowering networks. More and more women are proving that they can not only be successful for themselves, but that they can add real, tangible value to any enterprise. And my advice is this: if you have made the decision to accept a leadership role, you have already overcome the most difficult barrier. There are many others like you – and men, too – who are going to support you and your goals. You are not alone, there are people who are willing and able to help you, and you have to be willing to seek out and accept advice.”

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