Cabinet and Executive Officials

Governor’s Executive Staff

Mike Brunelle – Chief of Staff
J.J. Abbott – Press Secretary
Randy Albright – Secretary of the Budget
Yesenia Bane – Deputy Chief of Staff
Elena Cross – Deputy Chief of Staff
Will Danowski – Secretary of Legislative Affairs
Sarah Galbally – Secretary of Policy and Planning
Rob Ghormoz – Deputy Chief of Staff
Eric Gutshall – Director of Constituent Services
Eric Hagarty – Deputy Chief of Staff
Obra S. Kernodle IV – Deputy Chief of Staff
Andrea Mead – Chief of Staff to the First Lady
Sharon Minnich – Secretary of Administration
Mark Nicastre – Director of Communications
Betsy Phillips – Director of Scheduling
Mark Smith – Deputy Chief of Staff
Denise J. Smyler – General Counsel
Mary Topper – Director, Office of Public Liaison

Governor’s Cabinet Officials

The Governor’s Cabinet comprises the directors of various state agencies. These directors are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Each secretary is responsible for the oversight of his or her agency.

Jessica Altman – Acting Insurance Commissioner
Bruce R. Beemer – Inspector General
Colonel Tyree C. Blocker – Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner
Major General Tony Carrelli – Adjutant General of Military and Veterans Affairs
Dennis M. Davin – Secretary of Community and Economic Development
Cindy Dunn – Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources
Richard Flinn – Director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
C. Daniel Hassell – Secretary of Revenue
Dr. Rachel Levine – Physician General and Acting Secretary of Health
Patrick McDonnell – Secretary of Environmental Protection
Teresa D. Miller – Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
W. Gerard “Jerry” Oleksiak – Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry
Teresa Osborne – Secretary of Aging
Russell Redding – Secretary of Agriculture
Leslie S. Richards – Secretary of Transportation
Pedro Rivera – Secretary of Education
Jennifer Smith – Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Timothy Solobay – Office of Fire Commissioner
Curt Topper – Secretary of General Services
Robert Torres – Interim Secretary of State
John Wetzel – Secretary of Corrections
Robin Wiessmann – Secretary of Banking and Securities

 

J.J. Abbott – Press Secretary

Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, J.J. Abbott served as a spokesman for the Office of Attorney General, Director of Communications for the Allegheny County Controller, Campaign Manager of Chelsa Wagner for Controller, and as an aide to former Congressman Joe Sestak and former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a lifetime Pennsylvania resident.

Randy Albright – Secretary of the Budget

Randy Albright has nearly three decades of experience in Pennsylvania state government, and he brings a detailed knowledge of the state budget and finances. Albright has drafted numerous pieces of job creation legislation, including the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.

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He has also played a key role in developing cost-savings and passing revenue generating policies over four administrations.

Randy Albright assumed duties as secretary of the budget in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015.

Jessica Altman – Acting Insurance Commissioner

Jessica Altman was appointed Acting Insurance Commissioner on August 19, 2017. Prior to this, Ms. Altman served as Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department alongside former Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller beginning in June 2015.

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In this position, Ms. Altman served as the top aide to former Commissioner Miller, oversaw policy initiatives for the agency, and coordinated policy with other state government agencies and external groups.

Ms. Altman represented the department in a number of statewide initiatives including coordinating aspects of Health Innovation in Pennsylvania, which leverages funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ State Innovation Model Initiative and sitting as a board member for ABC-MAP, the Commonwealth’s initiative to implement a prescription drug monitoring program. She is also an active member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and is vice-chair of the NAIC’s subgroup evaluating the definition of quality improvement activities for the medical loss ratio.

Prior to joining the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Ms. Altman worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, where she developed policy and facilitated implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, she served as a policy analyst for the health division of the White House Office of Management and Budget while completing her master’s degree.

Ms. Altman has a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Policy Analysis and Management, with a concentration in Health Care Policy, from Cornell University.

Pennsylvania is the fifth largest insurance market in the United States, in terms of premium volume, and the 14th largest insurance market in the world.

The Insurance Commissioner is entrusted with enforcing the insurance laws of Pennsylvania, including protecting consumers and monitoring the financial solvency of Pennsylvania domestic insurance companies. Pennsylvania serves as the lead regulator for an array of insurance companies from small mutuals that trace their history to the 1700’s to a number of large internationally active insurance groups. Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of advancing the regulation of domestic IAIGs. The department also investigates and enforces state laws and regulations pertaining to insurance and responds to consumer inquiries. The department provides the public with information and educational brochures regarding various types of insurance.

Yesenia Bane – Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor

Before joining the Wolf Administration, Yesenia Bane served as a Senior Transition Advisor to Gov.-elect Tom Wolf’s Transition Committee. Before joining Wolf’s Transition Committee, Bane served as Chief of Staff for Senator Rob Teplitz of the 15th Senatorial District.

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Before that, she worked as a Program and Policy Coordinator for Education Voters PA. She also worked in the administration of former Governor Ed Rendell, including the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Albright College.

Yesenia Bane assumed duties as Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor of Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015.

Bruce R. Beemer – Inspector General

Bruce R. Beemer was appointed Inspector General by Governor Tom Wolf on July 25, 2016. On Aug. 30, 2016, he was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate and sworn in as Attorney General after Governor Wolf nominated him to fill a vacancy in that office. Beemer resumed his tenure as Inspector General on Jan. 17, 2017, when newly elected Attorney General Josh Shapiro was sworn in.

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Prior to joining the Office of Inspector General, Beemer served as First Deputy in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Criminal, Civil and Public Protections Divisions.

Beemer previously served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. After joining that office as an Assistant District Attorney in 1996, he worked in the Crimes Persons, Narcotics and Homicide Trial Units where he tried more than 100 jury trials and prosecuted more than 75 homicide cases. He was responsible for several gang-related prosecutions within the City of Pittsburgh involving multi-jurisdictional coordination with state and federal agencies.

In 2005, Beemer was made supervisor of the District Attorney’s General Trial Unit and Summary Appeals Unit. He managed more than 30 prosecutors in the office and regularly advised city, county and municipal police departments on legal issues relating to active investigations. He trained police officers and prosecutors on behalf of the Municipal Police Officer Training and Education Center, the Allegheny County Police Academy and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

From 2005 to 2010 Beemer was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law, where he taught trial advocacy to third-year law students. He served as a Board Member for the Center for Victims of Violent Crime from 2010 to 2013.

In 2010, Beemer left the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office to engage in a private practice focused on plaintiff environmental toxic tort cases and white-collar criminal defense. In late 2011, he was appointed Chief of Staff for the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania under Attorney General Linda Kelly and, in 2013, he was appointed Chief of Criminal Prosecutions under Attorney General Kathleen Kane. In 2014, he was appointed First Deputy.

Beemer graduated summa cum laude in 1992 from the University of Scranton and, in 1995, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He lives just north of Pittsburgh in Bradford Woods. He and his wife, Jodi, have two children.

Colonel Tyree C. Blocker – Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner

Tyree C. Blocker started his career with the Pennsylvania State Police in 1975 as a trooper, working in patrol, criminal investigation, staff services and organized crime with Troops J, T, K, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

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Colonel Blocker worked his way up through the ranks over a 30 year career with the State Police, retiring in 2005 with the rank of major and was responsible for investigative, patrol and administrative operations of 3 Troops, comprised of 13 locations and 750 Troopers in 10 counties including Philadelphia. During his three decades with the State Police, Colonel Blocker supervised units related to identification records, automotive activities, procurement and supplies, communications, and community relations; worked in all facets of criminal investigation, and the gathering of intelligence, as well as the active participation in various multi-agency, multi-state task forces; supervised hundreds of troopers while running the administrative, financial and operational aspects of numerous counties as well as providing support for local law enforcement; and reorganized the Bureau of Drug Law Enforcement to address the sophistication and complexity of drug trafficking in the commonwealth. After retiring from the State Police, Colonel Blocker worked at George Mason University serving as a technical adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and then as an advisor to the minister of national security for the Trinidad and Tobago government. Colonel Blocker also served as president of Silver Seals Consulting and currently owns Future Gem Fitness Corporation. Colonel Blocker resides in New London Township in Chester County with his wife, Janice.

Mike Brunelle – Chief of Staff

Mike Brunelle most recently served as Governor Tom Wolf’s Executive Deputy Chief of Staff.

Previous to joining the Wolf Administration, Mike Brunelle spent two years as the National Campaigns Director for the Service Employees International Union, where he led the organization’s programs in 26 states.

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Prior to working for SEIU in Washington, D.C., he spent nearly three years as the Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Pennsylvania State Council, where he directed the planning and execution of Council issue and legislative programs and served as staff-level leadership.

Before coming to Pennsylvania, Mike worked on various candidate and issue-based campaigns in the Northeast, including the elections of Governor John H Lynch. He served as the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, was a state representative in the New Hampshire General Court, and also served as the Democratic Whip.

Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Lemoyne with his wife Erika, and their daughter, Ava.

Major General Tony Carrelli – Adjutant General of Military and Veterans Affairs

Major General Tony Carrelli assumed duties as the adjutant general on June 29, 2016. In this cabinet-level position with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, he is responsible for command, control and supervision of National Guard units – Army and Air – allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes and programs for Pennsylvania’s more than 894,000 veterans.

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Prior to his appointment as Acting Adjutant General on January 14, 2016, Carrelli served as the Deputy Adjutant General-Air, Pennsylvania National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters since January 22, 2013. In this position he served as the primary advisor to Pennsylvania’s Adjutant General on all matters pertaining to air operations and as commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He was responsible for overall operational readiness and ensuring that the 4,100 assigned members are trained and equipped to successfully accomplish their federal and state missions.

Carrelli graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science Degree and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985. He completed undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, followed by several flying assignments as an A-10 pilot. He served in active duty Air Force for several years as a T-37, AT-38 and A-10 pilot. Following his release from active duty, Carrelli joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in 1999. He has deployed in numerous operations to include Desert Storm, Southern Watch, and most recently Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Carrelli has completed Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. His military decorations include: the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two devices, Air Medal with five devices, Aerial Achievement Medal with five devices, Air Force Commendation Medal with three devices, Air Force Achievement Medal with one device, Gallant Unit Citation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with seven devices and Valor, National Defense Service with one device, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two devices, Southwest Asia Service Medal with one device, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two devices, Iraq Campaign Medal with one device, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon with one device, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with two devices and gold border, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with four devices, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with multiple devices, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon with one device, Air Force Training Ribbon, Pennsylvania Distinguished Service Medal, Pennsylvania State Service Medal, Pennsylvania Major General Thomas R. White, Jr. Medal, and Pennsylvania Thomas J. Stewart Medal. He is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours in the A-10, T-37, T-38, AT-38B and KC-135 aircraft.

Carrelli has served as commander of the 111th Fighter Wing, Horsham, and commander of the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pittsburgh International Airport.

Elena Cross – Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor

Before joining the Wolf Administration, Elena Cross served on Gov.-elect Tom Wolf’s Transition Committee. Working with the Wolf campaign and other campaigns and stakeholders across the commonwealth, Cross was the Executive Director of Campaign for a Fresh Start in 2014.

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Previously, Cross was the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Before that, she held other roles at the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Cross began her political career working on campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Cross is from State College and attended Penn State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Elena Cross assumed duties as Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015.

Will Danowski – Secretary of Legislative Affairs

Will Danowski has over a decade of experience working to advance priority policy issues in Pennsylvania’s state capitol. Prior to his appointment with the Wolf Administration in January 2015, Will served as Legislative Liaison for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of legislative strategy and advised the Board on critical issues impacting the agency.

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Prior to his Gaming Board service, Will served for six years in Governor Rendell’s Legislative Office, including as Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs. In this capacity, Will was responsible for working across party lines to advance budget and policy negotiations for major administration priorities, including education and community and economic development issues.

A northeast Pennsylvania native, Will has a B.A. in Political Science from King’s College, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Will Danowski assumed duties as secretary of legislative affairs on February 19, 2016.

Dennis M. Davin – Secretary of Community and Economic Development

Dennis Davin (DCED) served as the director of Allegheny County Economic Development (ACED). Dennis also served as the director of the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority and executive director of the Industrial Development Authority, Hospital Development Authority, Higher Education Building Authority, and Residential Finance Authority.

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Dennis is also an active board member of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. Before serving as director of ACED, Dennis was regional director of the Governor’s Action Team for Southwestern Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he worked at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for eight years before becoming the URA’s director of housing. Dennis also served as the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation’s deputy executive director.

Dennis Davin assumed duties as acting secretary of community and economic development in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 12, 2015.

Cindy Dunn – Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources

Cindy Dunn is a former deputy secretary at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, where she led the department’s Conservation Landscape program and oversaw the community conservation partnerships grant program, which provides $30 to $60 million annually for conservation and recreation throughout the commonwealth.

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She also worked closely with local communities to revitalize local parks and trails. Cindy’s experience makes her well-suited to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s huge opportunity to continue to grow these sectors of the economy through a revitalized State Park and State Forest system.

Cindy Dunn assumed duties as acting secretary of conservation and natural resources in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on June 2, 2015.

Richard Flinn – Director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

While at FEMA, Flinn has overseen the development and implementation of standard operating procedures, policies, and doctrine that has institutionalized watch procedures including trigger points for notifications and checklists for actions that watch officers take, when an incident occurs and who and when senior leaders are notified. While previously at the commonwealth, Flinn supervised the acquisition and development of Pennsylvania’s crisis management system and he led the development of a $250 million federal grant.

C. Daniel Hassell – Secretary of Revenue

C. Daniel Hassell was nominated by Governor Tom Wolf on April 24, 2017.as Secretary of Revenue and unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate on June 19, 2017.

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Hassell has more than three decades of experience as a senior tax policy analyst with the Department of Revenue and the Pennsylvania Senate. In December 2009, Governor Ed Rendell nominated Hassell as Secretary of Revenue, after which he was confirmed on April 14, 2010 and served in that capacity until January 2011.

Hassell has previously served as Deputy Secretary for Tax Policy for the Department of Revenue, where he coordinated department decisions on all aspects of tax policy. Hassell evaluated the impact of proposed tax legislation, regulations, policies, procedures and public statements, as well as researched and prepared tax revenue projections for the Office of the Budget and the Governor. He oversaw the bureaus of Research and Audits, the Board of Appeals and the Economic Development Office. Hassell has authored three tax policy articles published in State Tax Notes, a leading multi-state tax news source.

Hassell is an Erie native who graduated valedictorian of Strong Vincent High School in 1979. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Westminster College and a Master of Science in Public Management and Policy from Carnegie-Mellon University’s Heinz School of Urban and Public Affairs. Hassell also completed a program for senior executives in state and local government offered by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hassell has worked for the Department of Revenue since 1995, and previously worked for the department from 1981 to 1985. During the nine years between,   Hassell served as budget specialist for the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee.

Hassell resides in Susquehanna Township, and he and wife Ellen are proud parents of three children, Rosie, Ben and Lydia.

Sarah Galbally – Secretary of Policy and Planning

Prior to joining the Wolf Administration in January 2015 as deputy secretary for policy and planning, Sarah Galbally served as the policy director for the Wolf for Governor Campaign. Sarah has experience in both the government and nonprofit sectors.

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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.

Rob Ghormoz – Deputy Chief of Staff

Prior to serving in his current role, Rob Ghormoz served as Special Assistant to Governor Wolf during the first year of his administration. Prior to joining Governor Wolf’s administration, Ghormoz served on the Wolf Transition Committee as the Special Assistant to the Governor-Elect and the Wolf for Governor campaign as the Director of Advance Operations. Before that, Ghormoz served as the Personal Aide to Senator Robert P. Casey. Ghormoz was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Penn State University.

Eric Gutshall – Director of Constituent Services

Before joining the Wolf Administration in February 2016, Eric Gutshall served as Legislative & Policy Director for Pennsylvania State Representative Patty Kim of the 103rd Legislative District. In that role, he was responsible for advancing ambitious constituent services goals and promoting the Representative’s legislative agenda.

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Prior to his work in the state legislature, Eric served in the office of United States Congressman Todd Platts of the 19th Congressional District. In addition, Eric has served as Chair of the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats.

A resident of Dauphin County, Eric holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Pennsylvania College and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Hagarty – Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor

Raised near Seattle, WA, Eric Hagarty studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Washington before moving to Pennsylvania in 2011 to work in politics and government.

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Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, he served as Secretary Dennis M. Davin’s Chief of Staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development and was Governor Tom Wolf’s Deputy Campaign Manager during the 2014 Gubernatorial Election. Previously, he successfully managed Bill Peduto’s campaign for Mayor of Pittsburgh in 2013 and served as Finance Director for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald from 2011-2014.

Obra S. Kernodle IV – Deputy Chief of Staff

Obra S. Kernodle IV will replace Representative Evans as the governor’s appointee on the SEPTA board. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Kernodle is a graduate of Roman Catholic High School. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Education from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in 2002.

Most recently, before his appointment as a member of Governor Wolf’s senior staff, Obra was a senior advisor for Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s transition team.

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Prior to joining the Wolf for Governor Campaign, Obra worked in Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Administration as Deputy of Legislative Affairs, helping to coordinate the city’s Actual Value Initiative. In 2012, Obra was part of President Obama’s reelection effort as the Pennsylvania Southeast Political Director. Obra currently sits on the boards of Visit Philly and Welcome America.

Dr. Rachel Levine – Physician General and Acting Secretary of Health

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.

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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.

Dr. Rachel Levine assumed duties as acting physician general in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on June 9, 2015.

Patrick McDonnell – Secretary of Environmental Protection

With 15 years of experience holding a number of positions at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Patrick McDonnell brings a broad perspective to the agency’s regulatory and policy development processes.

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Prior to being named Acting Secretary, McDonnell served as DEP’s director of policy. In addition, he ran the State Energy Office, and was charged with coordination of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. McDonnell also served several years as executive policy manager for former Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, focusing on electric, natural gas and water issues, as well as cybersecurity and the impact of environmental regulation on energy markets.

Secretary McDonnell began his career at DEP working in the State Energy Office on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building projects. Throughout his career, McDonnell has worked to achieve success in the nexus between energy and environmental issues.

A native of Philadelphia, Secretary McDonnell received his Master’s degree in Political Science from Lehigh University and his Bachelor’s degree in Politics from DeSales University. He and his wife Colleen have four children, and live in Harrisburg.

Andrea Mead – Chief of Staff to the First Lady

Prior to joining the Wolf Administration, Andrea served for five years in the Obama Administration in Washington. During that time, Andrea held several communications roles, including as a press secretary to Vice President Biden, press secretary to U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk and deputy press secretary to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

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Before her time in Washington, Andrea held positions in statewide Pennsylvania political campaigns, including as a regional press secretary for President Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 and deputy press secretary for Governor Rendell’s reelection campaign in 2006. Andrea also served in Governor Rendell’s administration as policy director for the Departments of Labor & Industry and Revenue, where she managed teams that were responsible for advancing Governor Rendell’s legislative initiatives.

A Pennsylvania native, Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Temple University and a Master in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently resides in Harrisburg with her husband and two young children.

Andrea was sworn in as chief of staff to the First Lady on January 20, 2015.

Teresa D. Miller – Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Teresa D. Miller assumed duties as acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services on August 21, 2017. Previously, Miller served as Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner since January 2015, where she worked on a range of issues, including the administration’s top priorities – fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic and helping seniors.

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Under her leadership, Miller made it clear that one of her top priorities at the Insurance Department was enforcing mental health parity laws, ensuring consumers have access to the mental health and substance use disorder treatments they need.

Teresa has been a leader in the Wolf Administration’s efforts to protect seniors. Her work to ensure seniors in Western Pennsylvania were protected and would not lose access to their doctors helped prevent disruption in care for 180,000 by ensuring UPMC providers continued participation in Highmark’s Medicare networks through the end of the consent decrees, which expire in 2019.

In 2017, Teresa was named chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Senior Issues Task Force. Also at the NAIC, Teresa has been a leader in taking on the current challenges of the long term care insurance markets. At her request, the NAIC created the Long Term Care Innovation Subgroup, which she chaired, to work to increase long-term care funding options for consumers, including increasing the number of affordable asset protection options available.

Prior to coming to Pennsylvania, Miller served as acting director of the State Exchanges Group, the Oversight Group, and the Insurance Programs Group in the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Before going to Washington, Miller worked in Oregon where she fought for state adoption of mental health parity legislation, representing drug and alcohol treatment providers, social workers, the Arc of Oregon and other advocates for people with disabilities. Then, as the insurance regulator in Oregon, she worked to ensure consumers received the benefits of that law.

Miller received her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Pacific Lutheran University.

Sharon Minnich – Secretary of Administration

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.

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In these roles, Minnich improved operations and managed significant process and system changes. She led the implementation of a new financial shared services model for Pennsylvania, the implementation of Pennsylvania’s tax amnesty project, and the state’s ERP implementation. In addition to her work in state government, Minnich, 45, 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.

Sharon Minnich assumed duties as secretary of administration in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015.

Mark Nicastre – Director of Communications

Prior to becoming Governor Wolf’s communications director, Mark Nicastre most recently served as Communications Director for Gov.-elect Tom Wolf’s Transition Committee. Nicastre previously directed communications and media efforts as Communications Director for Tom Wolf’s campaign. Nicastre served in senior roles with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in 2010 and 2012, managing communications and assisting candidates with media outreach.

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Earlier, Nicastre served as Communications Director for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s reelection campaign in 2012. Before moving to Pennsylvania, Nicastre was the communications director for a member of the U.S. House from New Mexico, Ben Ray Lujan. Nicastre has also worked for strategic communications firms in Washington, DC – Spitfire Strategies and Mack/Crounse Group (now Mack/Sumner) – that developed candidate and issue campaigns including national public health and environmental campaigns. Nicastre earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Government with a focus in Political Communication from Johns Hopkins University.

W. Gerard “Jerry” Oleksiak – Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry

Before joining L&I on Sept. 5, 2017, Jerry most recently served as president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) – the largest professional association in the commonwealth. Prior to becoming president in 2015, he served as PSEA vice president, treasurer, and as a member of the board of directors.

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Jerry is especially proud of the more than three decades he spent as a classroom teacher, most of that time as a special education teacher at the Upper Merion Area School District in King of Prussia. He also served as president of the Upper Merion Area Education Association (UMAEA).

Throughout his career, Jerry has collaborated with employers, employees, and community groups in order to create partnerships that benefit all stakeholders.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jerry graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a teaching certificate in social studies in 1974. Several years later, Jerry earned a Master’s degree in Education from Saint Joseph’s, and worked to earn his special education certification through LaSalle University.

Jerry lives in Glenside, Pa. with his wife. They have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and two grandchildren.

Teresa Osborne – Secretary of Aging

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 previously served as the Executive Director of the Lackawanna County Department of Human Services and the Administrator of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.

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During that time, she helped to form the Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium (NBHCC), a four-county, non-profit, which implemented Pennsylvania’s managed care program serving over 90,000 members who receive Medical Assistance, and served on the Mayor of Scranton Task Force on Law Enforcement & Mental Health, which helped to create the Scranton Area Crisis Intervention Team.

Teresa Osborne assumed duties as acting secretary of aging in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 13, 2015.

Betsy H. Phillips – Director of Scheduling

Betsy started in the scheduling office in 1996 and has performed all office positions prior to being named director of the office for the Wolf Administration.

Russell Redding – Secretary of Agriculture

Russell Redding previously served as secretary of the Department of Agriculture from 2009 to 2011, where he helped establish a comprehensive economic development program that provided state funds that leveraged private capital to help agriculture expand, grow, and create jobs. Redding was also instrumental in preserving nearly 3,000 farms.

Russell Redding assumed duties as acting secretary of agriculture in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 13, 2015.

Leslie S. Richards – Secretary of Transportation

In her two years as Secretary of PennDOT, Leslie S. Richards has instituted new Strategic Directions based upon a policy of sustainable infrastructure investments as well as innovation throughout the Department.

She instituted the Transportation Investment Plan, a metric driven strategic investment approach for the 12 Year Capital Program where progress toward reducing structurally deficient bridges and accomplishing more roadway reconstruction in each District and Planning Region was measured and benchmarked toward statewide goals.

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In addition, the Secretary recently announced a $2.1 billion maintenance and system preservation initiative, termed PennDOT Road MaP, to address improved maintenance of the state’s 40,000 miles of roads along with an increased emphasis on the interstate system.

She also launched a new initiative, called PennDOT Connects, for the planning and delivery of capital and maintenance projects. This new policy will enhance PennDOT’s collaboration with our local governments and ensure that the Department’s investments consider the mobility needs of our communities in project design.

Her vision is a PennDOT with continuing improved efficiencies to meet the funding challenges ahead, a diversified workforce that offers employees fulfilling career opportunities, and a broadened planning and project development process that considers input from all stakeholders reflecting a truly multi-modal approach.

The Secretary also was recently named chair of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and serves as chair of the Pennsylvania Public Private Partnership board.

The Secretary was recently honored in New York with the 2016 Gold Stevie Awards for Female Innovator of the Year and Female Executive of the Year. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, she has also served her township and county as a local elected official in Montgomery County while working in various capacities in the planning and engineering fields.

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. Secretary Richards is recognized in the public and private sectors for her ability to build consensus in order to find solutions to problems. She was appointed by the Governor on January 20, 2015, and on May 11, 2015, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination as Secretary.

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 led the transportation and planning initiatives for the third largest county in the Commonwealth. Under her leadership, the county restructured its road and bridge division resulting in increased efficiencies and $1 million in savings, and adopted an aggressive program to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges. In addition, Secretary Richards served as the chair of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, as well as on the boards of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVFTMA). She played an active role working with state legislators to educate them on the importance of passing Pennsylvania’s far-reaching transportation plan, Act 89, and provided official testimony during legislative hearings. Before being elected commissioner, she served as the chair and vice chair of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors.

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. Secretary Richards is a lifelong Pennsylvania resident. She lives with her husband and three children in Montgomery County.

Pedro Rivera – Secretary of Education

Pedro A. Rivera was nominated by Governor Tom Wolf to serve as the Secretary of Education on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the state Senate in June 2015. He joined the Wolf Administration after serving as Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, a position he held from 2008-2015.

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Under Rivera’s leadership, the School District of Lancaster developed and implemented a new curriculum, an aggressive professional development plan, and innovative classroom observation tools. These initiatives resulted in an increased graduation rate, notable improvements in math, science and writing proficiency scores, and enhanced the level of participation from high-performing students in programs that help prepare them for college and other post-graduation opportunities.

In September 2014, Rivera was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to transform urban education – one of ten recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious honor.

He brings extensive experience in public education to his role as a member of Governor Wolf’s cabinet and has spent his entire career helping students. Prior to serving as superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, he worked as a classroom teacher, a staff member with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, assistant principal, principal, and executive director for the School District of Philadelphia.

Rivera is a first generation college graduate and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Cheyney University, and his Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility from Arcadia University.

Rivera was raised in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia and resides in Lancaster with his wife Erika, son Lucas and daughter Elena.

Mark Smith – Deputy Chief of Staff

Previous to joining the Wolf Administration, Mark Smith served nearly two terms as county commissioner in Bradford County. He became the youngest chair of the commission in 2008 at the age of 29.

Mark has offered his service on numerous community and government related boards and commissions which have included the Endless Mountain Visitors Bureau, Endless Mountain Heritage Region Board, Bradford/Sullivan American Red Cross, Partners and Family Community Development Board and the Bradford County Tourism Committee.

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Mark was also elected to serve as a board member to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) and the CCAP Natural Gas Task Force.

Prior to entering politics, Smith worked as an industrial designer in the automotive and plastics industries. Mark attended Athens Area High School, graduating in 1996. Mark went on to attend college in Pittsburgh and later The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, studying industrial design. In 2011 he was selected as one of twenty-two County Commissioners from across the nation to attend the National Association of Counties Leadership Institute in Washington D.C. provided by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Mark resides in Susquehanna Township with his wife Jane Clements-Smith.”

Denise J. Smyler – General Counsel

Denise J. Smyler is the General Counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She was appointed to this position by Governor Tom Wolf on January 20, 2015. Prior to joining the Commonwealth, Ms. Smyler headed a thriving law practice in the private sector. She was the founding attorney and owner of The Smyler Firm, which she managed for more than sixteen years.

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Before she launched her private practice, Ms. Smyler 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, Ms. Smyler advised and represented the city in State and Federal Court proceedings and worked on drafting and negotiating contracts on behalf of city agencies.

In her current position, Ms. Smyler leads the Office of General Counsel (OGC), and oversees the provision of legal services to the Governor, his senior staff, and over thirty (30) executive branch and independent agencies. As head of OGC, she has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve client service and strengthen the capacity of OGC lawyers. Chief among her accomplishments during her first 18 months as General Counsel, Ms. Smyler has worked – with Governor Wolf’s full support – to expand and enhance opportunities for small and diverse law firms to serve the Commonwealth as outside counsel. Ms. Smyler’s efforts in this area have created opportunities not just for small and diverse businesses to do legal work for the Commonwealth, but also for those larger firms who demonstrate tangible commitments to diversity and equality in the workplace.

Ms. Smyler has long been active in community service. Governor Ed Rendell appointed her to serve on the board of directors of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), where she served until 2011. That same year, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Ms. Smyler to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Board. Ms. Smyler additionally served on the Hearing Committee for the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, on the board of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and was a longstanding board member of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.

Ms. Smyler has been the recipient of numerous awards during her career, most recently being named by the Philadelphia Tribune as one of the Philadelphia region’s “Movers and Shakers” in 2015, and receiving the Legal Intelligencer “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2016. Ms. Smyler is a graduate of New York University and earned her J.D. from Georgetown University.

Timothy Solobay – Office of Fire Commissioner

Timothy Solobay has over 38 years in fire service and is currently the assistant fire chief at the Canonsburg Volunteer Fire Company. Tim has served in fire service for more than three decades and he has received multiple awards and recognitions, and has dedicated himself to improving the atmosphere for fire service. Tim also spent his time in the General Assembly fighting for legislation to improve fire services and deliver more resources to fire and emergency service companies. Solobay was instrumental in providing millions annually for fire and emergency service across the commonwealth.

Jennifer Smith – Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs

Jennifer (Jen) Smith was appointed Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs in January 2017. Prior to this, she served as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).

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Acting Secretary Smith began her career with the commonwealth in 2004 in the Office of the Budget, beginning as an accountant and eventually becoming the office’s Director of Planning and Management in 2012 before beginning as DDAP’s Deputy Secretary in 2015.

Since assuming the role of Acting Secretary, she has continued the Wolf Administration’s initiative to increase drug take-back opportunities, expand access to naloxone in communities around Pennsylvania, and, alongside the Pennsylvania Department of Health, released guidelines and protocols for “warm handoffs” that help overdose survivors transition into substance use disorder treatment.

Acting Secretary Smith has also worked alongside Governor Wolf and other Wolf Administration Officials to ensure that fighting the opioid crisis remains a priority on the federal, state, and local levels. In 2017, the Wolf Administration secured a $26.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services as part of $1 billion included in the 21st Century Cures Act to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic and will be used by DDAP to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

She currently resides in Jonestown with her husband, their four children, and two dogs. In addition to spending time with her family, she enjoys participating as an active member of the Annville Church of the Brethren.

Curt Topper – Secretary of General Services

In his capacity at Georgetown University, Curt Topper renegotiated service and supply arrangements and introduced business process and system improvements to reduce the University’s operating costs by more than $1 million. While serving as deputy secretary of procurement for the commonwealth from 2005 to 2008, Topper led the department’s new shared services centers for procurement, warehousing, and print production.

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In this role, he was instrumental in modernizing and streamlining operations and played a key role in the implementation of new procurement activities. Topper also negotiated key contracts and reduced costs for the commonwealth by more than $200 million annually.

Curt Topper assumed duties as acting secretary of general services in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 12, 2015.

Mary Topper – Director, Office of Public Liaison

Mary Topper joined the Wolf Administration on January 20, 2015 as Deputy Director of the Office of Public Liaison. She previously served as a deputy on Governor-elect Wolf’s transition committee. Prior to that, she was deputy director in the political department of the Wolf for Governor campaign, where she also managed the campaign’s voter protection efforts.

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Mary has previously served as regional political director for President Obama’s re-election campaign where she coordinated efforts in 36 counties of Pennsylvania, and as Executive Director of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

A native of Montgomery County, Mary earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and her Juris Doctor from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.

Robert Torres – Interim Secretary of State

Robert Torres was appointed Interim Secretary of State on October 11, 2017. In his previous role as Executive Deputy Secretary, Mr. Torres served as the lead deputy secretary for the Secretary of the Commonwealth, providing coordinated supervision of executive staff and managing the internal operation of the executive offices.

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He advised the Secretary and supports the planning, coordination and management of program operations and the department’s external relationships.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Torres worked at General Dynamics Information Technology, providing program management and business development services. He also previously served as vice president of Health Information Technology at Capital Blue Cross.

In prior state government service, Mr. Torres was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett to serve as Pennsylvania’s Health Information Technology Coordinator. In this position, he provided leadership to help promote health information technology and advance health information exchange strategies in Pennsylvania. His efforts helped to align over 100 healthcare stakeholders to achieve passage of Act 121 of 2012 that created the Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority, a public/private authority.

Mr. Torres was also appointed by Governor Ed Rendell to serve as Deputy Secretary for Administration at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In this role, he was responsible for contract administration, information technology, health research, statistics and vital records, human resources and management of the department’s more than $900 million budget. He was also assigned to manage and help improve the delivery of health, support and outreach services to families and children funded through the federal Maternal and Child Health programs.

Mr. Torres is an attorney who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Pace University and a law degree from Widener University School of Law. He serves on the board of directors of various professional and community organizations, including the United Way of the Capital Region, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, the Health Information Management Systems Society and the Harrisburg Latino Hispanic American Community Center.

John Wetzel – Secretary of Corrections

John Wetzel, widely recognized as one of the thought leaders in corrections today, was appointed Secretary of Corrections for the Department of Corrections (DOC) in January 2011 by Governor Corbett and reappointed by Governor Wolf in January 2015.

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During his tenure there has been an elimination of a 24-year average growth of 1,500 inmates per year, presiding over the first population reduction in PA in more than four decades, and a restructuring of the agency’s community corrections and mental health systems along with a re-engineering of internal processes to yield a more efficient system of program delivery. He has more than 27 years of experience in the corrections field, including corrections officer, treatment counselor, warden and training academy director.

Mr. Wetzel has been selected as chair of the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center’s Executive Board and Vice President of the Association of State Corrections Administrators. He is a member of Harvard’s Executive Session on Community Corrections, which is a joint project of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the National Institute of Justice and consists of 30 of the leading policymakers, practitioners and researchers nationally. This joint project is an effort to shape the meaning and future of community corrections policy in the U.S. He is a graduate of Bloomsburg University. In May 2016, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania presented to him an honorary doctor of laws.

Robin Wiessmann – Secretary of Banking and Securities

Robin L. Wiessmann was nominated by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in January 2015 to serve as Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking and Securities, and was confirmed to this position by the Pennsylvania Senate in June 2015. Most recently, she was approved to serve on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

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Secretary Wiessmann provides overall leadership to an agency that supervises 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and trust companies; licenses more than 20,000 consumer lenders, including mortgage lenders, auto sales finance companies, consumer discount companies, and debt services companies; and registers more than 200,000 investment advisers, investment adviser representatives, investment adviser notice filers, broker-dealers, and broker-dealer agents.

Since joining the department, she reorganized several consumer outreach and education components of the department’s work into a single unit, Financial Services for Consumers and Business. Under her guidance, the department created a Cybersecurity Task Force, one of the first in the nation among state regulators to provide businesses access to resources and industry best practices to bolster cybersecurity policies and practices. She provides leadership for Governor Tom Wolf’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, which works to protect consumers and business from illegal lending from out-of-state entities; protect senior citizens from financial abuse; and help working adults save for retirement. She created a financial information exchange that coordinates efforts of more than 20 state government agencies. She regularly posts on regulatory and financial issues on Twitter (@rlwiessmann).

By virtue of her position as Secretary of Banking and Securities, Wiessmann serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Banking and Securities Commission, and on the boards of the Commonwealth Financing Authority, the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority, the Pennsylvania Housing Advisory Committee, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, and the Certified Real Estate Appraisers Board.

Secretary Wiessmann has enjoyed a long career in commercial banking, investment banking, regulatory matters, and government service. She has served as the Pennsylvania Treasurer; Deputy Director of Finance for the City of Philadelphia; was a Founding Principal and President of Artemis Capital Group, the first women-owned investment banking firm on Wall Street; Vice President of Public Finance at Goldman Sachs; served as Chairman of the Board of an Act 40 company, Vantagepoint Funds Mutual Fund; and chaired the Nominating Committee and served on the Steering Committee and Audit Committee of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. The Women’s City Club of New York has awarded her the Civic Spirit Award, and the National Women Executives in State Government Association has awarded her the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award.” In January 2014 the organization Women in Public Finance honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her representation of women in the financial industry. She graduated from Lafayette College and earned a law degree from Rutgers University.