Meet The Seven Penn Staters Appointed To Tom Wolf’s Cabinet
Since Tom Wolf defeated former Governor Tom Corbett in a landslide election to become Pennsylvania’s 47th Governor, he’s enacted some sweeping policy changes. Along with those, Governor Wolf will also bring in a new cabinet, of which six members are Penn State graduates.
The six Penn Staters awaiting confirmation by the General Assembly to join Wolf’s cabinet bring with them countless years of experience in the public sector; some have served for former Governors Rendell and Corbett.
Although Senate confirmation hearing dates have yet to be set, Wolf’s cabinet appointees are expected to meet with the 50 members of the Pennsylvania Senate throughout the month and lay out their plans for the future. Until that time, meet the six Penn State alumni awaiting confirmation:
Pedro Cortes — Secretary of the Commonwealth
Governor Wolf named Pedro Cortes as Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth on January 20. According to the Pennsylvania government’s website, “The mission of the Department of State is to promote the integrity of the electoral process, to support economic development through corporate filings and transactions, and to protect the health and safety of the public.”
Cortes, a native of Puerto Rico, began his post-secondary education at the University of Massachusetts, where he earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration. He eventually earned his Master’s of Public Administration from Penn State, as well as a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law.
Perhaps one of the most experienced members appointed to Wolf’s cabinet, he began his career in 1993 as a caseworker within Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare. After getting his foot in the door, Cortes worked as a recruiter and attorney within the State Civil Service Commission. In March 2000, he became Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, a position he held for three years.
In 2003, he became Secretary of the Commonwealth under Rendell until 2010. After his confirmation, he became the first Latino cabinet member in Pennsylvania and the longest-serving Secretary of State in Pennsylvania.
Russell Redding — Secretary of the Department of Agriculture
Wolf recently tapped Russell Redding to head the department responsible for Pennsylvania’s 7.7 million acres of farmland.
Redding earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education and his Master of Science degree in Agriculture and Extension Education from Penn State. Along with his two Penn State degrees, he is a graduate of Penn State’s Agribusiness Executive program.
If confirmed, Mr. Redding will become the 26th Secretary of Agriculture, a position he formerly held from 2009 to 2011. During that tenure, he helped provide state funds for an extensive economic development program that helped Pennsylvania’s agricultural business drastically expand, as well as preservation of nearly 3,000 farms.
Like Cortes, Redding is one of the more experienced members appointed to Wolf’s cabinet. Prior to his appointment, he worked in Washington, D.C. as an Agriculture Policy Advisor to former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford. He has served in Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture for the last 16 years.
Randy Albright – Secretary of the Office of the Budget
Announced alongside Redding, Randy Albright was appointed by Wolf to head Pennsylvania’s Office of the Budget.
In 1979, Albright earned his Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Penn State, followed by a Master of Public Administration in 1985.
Albright has accumulated nearly three decades of public service. He began his career as a budget analyst in 1986 and then became senior budget analyst for the Senate Democrats’ Appropriations Committee. During that time, he was responsible for budget and policy analysis for the Departments of Community and Economic Development, Education, Labor and Industry, Corrections, and Transportation.
Since 2009, he has served as the Executive Director for the Democrats’ Senate Appropriations Committee.
Pedro Rivera — Secretary of the Department of Education
One of the last members to be appointed to Wolf’s cabinet, Pedro Rivera, Lancaster School District’s Superintendent since 2008, will become Secretary of the Department of Education.
Born in Philadelphia, Rivera earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Spanish Education from Penn State. He continued his education by earning his Master’s at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and his superintendent letter of eligibility from Arcadia University.
Rivera worked for 13 years as a human resources director, teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the School District of Philadelphia.
On April 16, 2008, Rivera was appointed as the superintendent of the Lancaster School District, a position that oversaw approximately 11,500 students, 1,000 of whom were homeless and 17 percent of whom were not English-literate. Throughout the district’s buildings, 38 different languages are spoken.
During Rivera’s tenure as superintendent, the school district saw notable increases in graduation rates with large improvements in math, science, and writing scores. The district has made important strides thanks to Rivera’s emphasis on student participation in various programs aimed towards success in college.
Last September, Rivera was honored at the White House as one of 10 Hispanic leaders around the country for his tireless work in education.
Dr. Rachel Leland Levine — Physician General
Dr. Rachel Leland Levine was recently tapped by Governor Wolf to hold the position of Physician General. If confirmed by the senate, she will become the highest-ranked transgender woman in Pennsylvania history.
Although she is a graduate from Tulane and Harvard, Dr. Levine has worked for the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for 18 years as a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, the Center’s Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, and a member of the Equality PA Board.
Alongside her work in medicine, she works with the Penn State Hershey Office of Diversity as the liaison for LGBT Affairs.
If voted into the cabinet, Dr. Levine plans to focus on the intersection of medical, mental, and behavior technologies.
Richard Flinn — Director of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency
On Jan. 15, Governor Wolf tapped Richard Flinn, the Deputy Director of the Operations Division for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to head Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency.
Flinn, who has accumulated more than 35 years of military experience, earned his Bachelor of Science in Health Planning and Administration from Penn State. He later earned his Master’s Degree in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to working in the public sector, Flinn worked as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, a non-profit organization that advised the Secretary of Health on all matters involving emergency health services.
Before joining FEMA in 2010, Flinn served as the Deputy Director for Operations for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
As the Deputy Director of the Operations Division for FEMA, Flinn oversaw the National Response Coordination Center, the National Watch Center, the FEMA Operations Center at Mount Weather, the National Incident Management Teams, and the National Urban Search and Rescue Program.
As the head of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency, Flinn will look to carry out and further develop operating procedures in line with FEMA standards to ensure that Pennsylvania is ready to handle various crises that may arise.
Colonel Marcus L. Brown — Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner
On January 15, Governor Wolf tapped Colonel Marcus Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police, to take the reins of the Pennsylvania State Police.
A public servant with 25 years of law enforcement experience, Brown graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing. He later continued his education and earned his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
After graduation, Brown found a career in the Baltimore City Police Department where he served the majority of his law enforcement career. In 2007, he was appointed Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, a position he held until he was appointed to his current position as the Superintendent of the Maryland State Police in 2011.
Throughout his tenure as Superintendent, Brown reorganized Maryland’s Criminal Investigation Bureau and helped establish the Special Operations Bureau. Ultimately, Brown’s changes helped Maryland control crime on a larger scale which vastly affected local crime trends.
As a result of Brown’s changes, Maryland’s crime and traffic fatalities have significantly decreased to historic numbers.
Photos courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of State/Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture/Pennlive.com/Fox43.com