U.S. President Biden Announces Nine Key Nominations

The White House

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following nine individuals to serve in key roles:

  • William Valdez, Nominee for Under Secretary for Management, Department of Homeland Security
  • Erik Hooks, Nominee for Deputy Administrator for Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Lisa Gomez, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security, Department of Labor
  • Adrienne Wojciechowski, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, Department of Agriculture
  • Mark Gitenstein, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
  • Laura S. H. Holgate, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, and Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Rank of Ambassador
  • Patricia Mahoney, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Central African Republic
  • Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Spain and to the Principality of Andorra
  • Peter Hendrick Vrooman, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mozambique

William Valdez, Nominee for Under Secretary for Management, Department of Homeland Security

William J. Valdez is a former career member of the Senior Executive Service at the Department of Energy and past President of the Senior Executives Association. He is currently the co-founder and Board President of the Alliance of Latinx Leadership & Policy, which supports a leadership pipeline for Latinx professionals who want to pursue a career in public service. Valdez is a recognized thought leader in the management of government agencies and has worked for 27 years to improve the effectiveness of government, with a goal of providing maximum mission delivery on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer. A current focus is using technology to improve human capital, procurement, and financial management processes to free up Federal employees from paperwork and focus on delivering mission.

Valdez was raised in an Air Force family and is the proud father of three extraordinary professional women, and is Papi to four grandchildren. He and his wife Marlana Valdez live in Takoma Park, MD. Valdez was the recipient of a 2007 Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious) and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Erik Hooks, Nominee for Deputy Administrator for Federal Emergency Management Agency

In January 2017, Secretary Hooks was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina as the Secretary of Public Safety and the State’s Homeland Security Advisor. Secretary Hooks provides cabinet level leadership to the NC Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Section, the NC National Guard, the NC Office of Recovery and Resilience, the NC State Highway Patrol, the NC Alcohol Law Enforcement Division, the NC State Capitol Police, the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, the Governor’s Crime Commission, and support divisions within the state’s Department of Public Safety. Secretary Hooks leads approximately 27,000 sworn and civilian public safety professionals as well as approximately 12,000 National Guard soldiers and Airmen.

A native of North Carolina, Secretary Hooks has more than 30 years of public safety experience. He is responsible for leadership coordination of homeland security and emergency management functions to provide comprehensive and coordinated preparedness, mitigation, prevention, protection, response and recovery for emergencies, disasters, and acts or threats of terrorism. As North Carolina’s State Administrative Agent, Secretary Hooks administers federal funds to state, local and tribal entities across North Carolina. Secretary Hooks chairs the North Carolina State Emergency Response Commission and coordinates law enforcement counterterrorism prevention, preparedness, and response training on a statewide basis resulting in a cohesive team response by both law enforcement and emergency first responders to acts of terrorism or a terrorist threat.

Secretary Hooks has a master’s degree and undergraduate degree from North Carolina University. Additionally, he successfully completed the FBI National Executive Institute, and the Commandant’s National Security Program at the US Army War College. Secretary Hooks serves on the Executive Committee of the National Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lisa Gomez, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security, Department of Labor

Lisa M. Gomez is a partner with the law firm Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP and the Chair of the Firm’s Management Committee. Since 1994, she has developed her deep technical and practical experience in the multifaceted field of employee benefits law, representing various Taft-Hartley and multiemployer pension and welfare plans, single employer plans, jointly administered training program trust funds, a federal employees health benefit (FEHB) plan, supplemental health plans, and VEBAs.

Gomez serves as a Co-Chair of the Board of Senior Editors of the Bloomberg BNA treatise Employee Benefits Law. Gomez also served as the Union Co-Chair of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Committee on Employee Benefits , as a member of the Programming Committee for the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Committee on Employee Benefits’ Midwinter Meeting, and as a Union Co-Chair of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law’s E-FLASH newsletter. She is a graduate of the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law’s Leadership Development Program and is currently the Union Co-Chair for that Program. She is a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the AFL-CIO Union Lawyers Alliance. She is a frequent lecturer on topics such as health care reform, various health plan compliance issues, benefit claim and appeals procedures and litigation, subrogation, ethics, LGBTQIA+ benefits, multiemployer plan contribution enforcement, qualified domestic relations orders, and other topics. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow of The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Inc. in recognition of her over twenty years of practice in employee benefits law and her contributions to the field. Lisa is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Peggy Browning Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing law students who wish to pursue careers protecting workers’ rights. She previously served as a volunteer mediator for the New Jersey Supreme Court, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Somerset County.

Lisa is admitted in the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the District of New Jersey, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law (J.D. 1994) and Hofstra University (B.A. 1991).

Adrienne Wojciechowski, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, Department of Agriculture

Adrienne Wojciechowski has worked in the Senate for 14 years and is currently serving as Professional Staff of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. In that capacity she leads the Subcommittee’s work on farm production, conservation, climate change, dairy, crop insurance, specialty crops and organic, local food systems, marketing, and research and education at land grant institutions. Prior to joining the Appropriations Committee, she served as a senior policy advisor for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, advising the senator on agriculture, environment, forestry, and energy issues and as a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. In that role she oversaw his work on the 2018 and 2014 Farm Bills, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and supported his work on the 2008 Farm Bill.

Earlier in her career she was a government relations associate at The Nature Conservancy, leading efforts to strengthen federal agriculture and forestry programs to achieve cleaner water, healthier soil, improved habitat, and greater outdoor recreation opportunities. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Resource Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics. Growing up in Maryland, Wojciechowski developed a passion for agriculture from her parents and her active involvement in 4-H, where she showed beef cattle.

Mark Gitenstein, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Mark Gitenstein is Senior Counsel at Mayer Brown LLP, and a former U.S. Ambassador to Romania. He has spent most of the last decade working on projects in Central and Eastern Europe. As Ambassador, he focused on fighting corruption and preserving democratic institutions, issues he continued to focus on through his work as a lawyer and with NGOs. Since his term as ambassador ended in 2012, he has returned to the region over two dozen times since then.

Earlier in his career, Gitenstein worked for 17 years in the U.S. Senate as Chief Counsel or Minority Chief Counsel of the Judiciary Committee, Chief Counsel of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, and Counsel for the Intelligence Committee. In 2008 he co-chaired then Senator Biden’s transition to the vice presidency. In 2021 he served as a senior advisor to and member of the advisory committee to the Biden presidential transition.

Gitenstein earned an A.B. at Duke University and a J.D. at Georgetown University Law School. He was awarded the Star of Romania, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by the President of Romania in 2012.

Laura S. H. Holgate, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, and Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Rank of Ambassador

Laura S. H. Holgate is Vice President for Materials Risk Management at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, in Washington, D.C., where she leads NTI’s activities to prevent nuclear terrorism, including reducing quantities and enhancing security of nuclear and radiological materials around the world, promoting cooperation between the United States and key partners on nuclear and radiological security, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture. She served as U.S. Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, in 2016, and previously was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for weapons of mass destruction terrorism and threat reduction on the National Security Council. In this role, she led the preparation of four Nuclear Security Summits and co-initiated the Global Health Security Agenda.

Previously, Holgate directed the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fissile Materials Disposition and was special coordinator for cooperative threat reduction at the U.S. Department of Defense. She is a co-founder of Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, and serves on multiple advisory boards. Holgate received a B.A. at Princeton University, an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and spent two years on the research staff at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Patricia Mahoney, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Central African Republic

Patricia Mahoney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Benin. Previously she was an Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the Office Director of the Office of Mainland Southeast Asia, also in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Earlier, Mahoney was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, and before that the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. Mahoney also served as Director for South Asia at the National Security Council. Mahoney earned her B.A. cum laude from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and her M.A. from the University of Hawaii. She is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College in Washington, D.C., receiving an M.S. degree in 2009. Ms. Mahoney speaks French, Thai, Nepali and Lao.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Spain and to the Principality of Andorra

Julissa Reynoso is an Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden, and the Co-Chair of the Gender Policy Council at the White House. A former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay, Reynoso also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. She is a former partner at the international law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, in New York, and served on the faculty of Columbia University School of Law and School of International and Public Affairs. Reynoso is widely published in English and Spanish on an array of issues including comparative law, regulatory reform, community organizing, immigration policy, and Latin American politics for both popular press and academic journals. She holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. She clerked for the Honorable Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain. She is fluent in Spanish.

Peter Hendrick Vrooman, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mozambique

Peter Hendrick Vrooman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda. Ambassador Vrooman recently served as the Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prior to that he served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi; Director for Iraq on the staff of the National Security Council in Washington, D.C.; and Deputy Political Counselor in Tel Aviv and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. He also worked at the U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Beirut, and Djibouti, as well as the U.S. Liaison Office in Mogadishu, Somalia. In Washington, he was a Watch Officer in the Department of State’s Operations Center and the Desk Officer for Algeria in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. A native of New York, Ambassador Vrooman graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in Social Studies and earned an M.S. in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces, now known as the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked as the special assistant to the President of the American University in Cairo.

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