WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to serve in key regional roles at the United States Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Human Services:
- Theresa Greenfield, USDA State Director, Rural Development, Iowa
- Armando Valdez, USDA State Director, Rural Development, Colorado
- Matt Russell, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Iowa
- Kent Peppler, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Colorado
- Clifton Warren, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Alabama
- Robin Talley, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Delaware
- Mike Vlacich, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 1
- Allen Morris Thomas, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 4
- Elmy Bermejo, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 9
- Daniel Blackman, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 4
- Kathleen “KC” Becker, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 8
- Lisa Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 2
- Dara Kass, HHS Regional Director, Region 2
- Ingrid Ulrey, HHS Regional Director, Region 10
These regional appointees will be critical to the President’s efforts to rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change. They bring deep expertise in their issue areas as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal, and local leaders. And, consistent with the President’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of American and the communities they serve.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster, and farm marketing programs in each U.S. State. Its mission is to equitably serve all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. State Executive Directors oversee this work, ensuring the needs of local constituents are met and that USDA resources are distributed equitably and fairly.
USDA’s Rural Development mission area is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. State Directors lead offices that offer grants, loans, and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services.
Theresa Greenfield, State Director, Rural Development, Iowa
Theresa Greenfield grew up on a small family farm outside a town of 500 during the 1980’s Farm Crisis. A committed public servant, Greenfield has focused her career on community development, housing, and real estate. She has worked with elected officials and community leaders at all levels of government to create strong, vibrant neighborhoods and hometowns. She is focused on bringing her professional and life experiences to the mission of strengthening the economy of rural Iowa.
Armando Valdez, State Director, Rural Development, Colorado
A native of the San Luis Valley, Armando was raised near Capulin, Colorado, on a farm and ranch consisting of cattle, sheep, small grains, and hay. Armando continues to operate this family farm and ranch along with his wife and children. In addition to his passions for agriculture, Armando is an Assistant Professor of Management and the Director of the Health Care Administration Program in the School of Business at Adams State University. Armando is currently a member of the Colorado State University System Board of Governors. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Armando was appointed to the USDA-Farm Service Agency Executive Committee for Colorado. In 2012, Armando was appointed as executive chair of this committee and served in that role until his term ended in 2018. Finally, empowering people and cultivating successful pathways for others are two of Armando’s key priorities. Armando believes we must facilitate opportunities for all within Colorado, which enhance agricultural, economic, educational, and social interests while protecting rural and agricultural lifestyles.
Matt Russell, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Iowa
Matt Russell, a 5th generation Iowa farmer, grew up on a 1,000-acre commodity and livestock farm. He now farms with his husband Patrick Standley near Lacona featuring retail agriculture and environmental stewardship. Russell’s off-farm career is built on advocating for social justice—the first decade training for and working in ministry and 16 years doing secular work in economic and environmental sustainability. Since April 2018 he’s been drawing on both backgrounds to lead Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, a statewide climate action organization. Under his leadership, Iowa IPL began empowering farmers to join other Iowans of faith and conscience to help solve the climate crisis. He earned an M.S. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University; advanced food, agriculture, and rural development policy at the Drake University Agricultural Law Center; and served eight years on the Iowa FSA State Committee. Coyote Run Farm features grass-finished beef, specialty crops, and emerging carbon farming projects.
Kent Peppler, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Colorado
Kent Peppler is a fourth-generation farmer from Mead, Colorado. A native of Colorado, Kent is a graduate of Longmont High School and holds an Associate of Arts degree from Northeastern Junior College as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Agriculture Education from Colorado State University. Kent was a member of the Colorado State Farm Service Agency State Committee during the Clinton-Gore Administration from 1995-2000 and served briefly as the Assistant State Executive Director and Acting State Executive Director for the agency. He also served as a trade advisor on the United States Department of Agriculture Sweeteners Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee (ATAC). Additionally, he acted as Colorado Young Farmers Educational Association State President and was State President of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union for nine years. Kent and his wife Colleen currently farm in Mead and have two grown children, Ashley Charnetski and Tyson Peppler.
Clifton Warren, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Alabama
Clifton L. Warren Jr. is a native of Greene County, Alabama where he grew up on a small family farm where he raised hogs and grew corn and other vegetables. Warren brings a combined total of over 25 years of experience and dedicated service to the Government, the majority with the FSA. Warren began his career with FSA in 1999 as a Temporary Program Technician in the Greene/Sumter FSA Office. He became a County Operations Trainee with FSA in 2000 and went on to serve in this capacity in conjunction with being a Program Technician from 2001-2004. He later served as County Operations Reviewer where he was responsible for the reviews of over 46 USDA Service Centers in Alabama and other states on an annual basis on all aspects of farm programs. Warren has also served as County Executive Director for Hale, Perry, and Bibb counties and as District Director for 13 FSA county offices providing oversight, program advice, training and guidance to County committees and service center staffs on commodity programs and farm loan programs.
After high school, Warren enlisted in the U.S. Army and served honorably for 3 years from 1990-1993. Warren served in the Persian Gulf War during this enlistment. Warren attended DeVry University in Atlanta, Georgia, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Project Management. Warren and his wife Bernice reside in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.
Robin Talley, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Delaware
Robin L. Talley has served in various capacities within the USDA-Farm Service Agency since 1984. Most recently, in her capacity as District Director, she was responsible for administration of federal farm and loan programs delivered by three field offices in Delaware. Born and raised on a dairy farm in Delaware, Talley has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Delaware.
Talley’s service to agriculture has been recognized numerous times by USDA and farm organizations. She is a recipient of the George M. Worrilow Award, presented by the University of Delaware Ag Alumni Association for outstanding service to agriculture. Talley was a trustee and volunteer for the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village. Talley resides in Dover.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA)
The 10 SBA Regional Offices, led by Regional Administrators, oversee the SBA’s 68 district offices and ensure the goals and objectives of the Agency are met by each district office and field operations staff. The district offices are the point of delivery for most SBA programs and services, providing quality service to the local small business community. They work with SBA resource partners and intermediaries to accomplish the SBA mission of assisting America’s small businesses.
Mike Vlacich, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 1
Mike Vlacich is a respected New Hampshire public servant with extensive economic development, policy, and constituent service experience at the nonprofit, state and federal government level currently serving as Senior Advisor to United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen, where he also served in leadership roles in her US Senate and Governor’s Offices. He previously served as President and CEO of the New Hampshire College and University Council, State Director for United States Senator Maggie Hassan, Director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff to NH Governor John Lynch. Vlacich is a first generation American and the first in his family to attend college, graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1995. He lives in Concord, NH with his wife and 2 daughters.
Region 1 serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Allen Thomas, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 4
Allen Thomas is a three-term mayor, businessman, entrepreneur and leader in public and private enterprise. As mayor of Greenville, one of North Carolina’s largest cities, Allen led the post-recession recovery, rapid expansion and robust economic growth, better connecting the city and region. He was recognized in the White House during the Obama-Biden Administration for community engagement in law enforcement and public safety. A serial entrepreneur, Allen co-founded healthcare technology startup IQMax, which grew to service 160 medical facilities in 36 States, processing 18 million patient records per day. Mr. Thomas was appointed Executive Director of the North Carolina Global Transpark by Governor Roy Cooper, to revitalize the state’s global multimodal transportation and logistics hub, spearheading growth in advanced manufacturing jobs, innovation and investment.
Region 4 serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Elmy Bermejo, SBA Regional Administrator, Region 9
Elmy Bermejo has a passion for building and strengthening relationships while assisting people and organizations attain their goals. She has been a senior government official with more than 25 years of experience at the executive level and has established a successful record of collaboration with public and private stakeholders on a range of issues including workforce development, disaster relief, and small business support. Elmy recently served as the Northern California Director for External Affairs for Governor Gavin Newsom; prior to that, she served as a Senior Adviser and Outreach Director for Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis of California, the first woman ever selected for this position. Elmy also served in the Obama-Biden administration at the US Department of Labor as the Regional Representative to the Secretary and as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. She serves on the San Francisco Commission on the Environment, The Women’s Foundation of CA and is an Advisory member of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Public Good.
Region 9 serves Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii and Nevada.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
Regional Administrators lead the EPA’s 10 regional offices around the country, each of which is responsible for the execution of EPA programs within a set of several states and territories. EPA regional offices also ensure the views and needs of each region are incorporated into the formulation of agency and national policy.
Daniel Blackman, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 4
Daniel Blackman has spent over a decade advising policymakers at the Georgia state capitol and advocating on behalf of Georgia ratepayers and small businesses in energy-related matters before the state’s Public Service Commission. He served as chairman of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club and board member for the ACLU. Blackman has worked throughout EPA Region 4 to secure environmental, health and economic justice and to convene stakeholders with federal agencies. His work in addressing groundwater contamination at nuclear plants and its impact on public health and safety has given him the opportunity to testify numerous times before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and his commitment to working throughout the Southeastern United States to push for legislation that addresses toxic ash left behind from burning coal has given him the opportunity to play a key role in the transitioning from coal to clean energy in the United States.
Region 4 serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and 6 Tribal Nations.
Kathleen “KC” Becker, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 8
KC Becker recently completed four terms in the Colorado legislature, culminating as Speaker of the House. Becker led the Colorado Democrats to its biggest majority in the legislature in over 50 years, and the first majority female legislative chamber in the country. Prior to serving in the Colorado legislature, she served four years on Boulder, Colorado’s city council. She worked for nearly seven years as an attorney-advisor in the Solicitor’s Office at the US Department of the Interior, practicing administrative and natural resources law. While in the Colorado legislature, Becker led landmark legislation to reform Colorado’s oil and gas sector, created a first in the nation Office of Just Transition, and passed nationally-leading legislation requiring the state of Colorado to put forward a plan to meet carbon reduction goals. Becker lives in Boulder with her husband and two sons.
Region 8 serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and 28 Tribal Nations.
Lisa Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 2
Lisa Flavia Garcia is an environmental lawyer that has been using the power of law and policy over the past 20 years to advocate for environmental and climate justice (“EJ”). Garcia was appointed to EPA in 2009, serving as associate administrator and senior advisor to EPA Administrators Lisa P. Jackson and Gina McCarthy. She led the creation and implementation of Plan EJ 2014, the first strategic plan for weaving EJ into all of the EPA’s work, and led the design of EJSCREEN. Garcia then worked as a Vice President for Litigation, Healthy Communities at Earthjustice, and in 2019 joined GRIST magazine to design and run a new program called Fix, a climate solutions lab focused on amplifying the voices of climate justice leaders. Earlier in her career, Garcia served as the Director of Environmental Justice and Indian Affairs at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Protection Bureau of the NYS Attorney General’s Office. She was also an Associate Professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, staff attorney at NY Public Interest Group, and a legislative fellow for Senator Robert Torricelli and NJ State Senator Byron Baer.
Region 2 serves New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and 8 Tribal Nations.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
Regional Directors lead HHS’s 10 Regional Offices that directly serve state and local organizations. Regional Directors ensure the Department maintains close contact with state, local, and tribal partners and addresses the needs of communities and individuals served through HHS programs and policies.
Dara Kass, HHS Regional Director, Region 2
Dr. Kass is a graduate of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and the Kings County Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency. She began her career in resident education at Staten Island University Hospital, followed by medical student education at New York University School of Medicine, and most recently was an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Columbia University School of Medicine. A champion for gender equity and the advancement of women in medicine, Dr. Kass’s academic work has focused on creating a more equitable workplace for women in medicine. Most recently, she has shifted focus to policy and public communication in regards to the COVID pandemic. She has focused her communication on the impact of COVID on communities and families, empowering Americans to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
Region 2 is based in New York City and serves New York, New Jersey, U.S. territories in the Caribbean, and several federally recognized Tribal Nations.
Ingrid Ulrey, HHS Regional Director, Region 10
Ulrey joins HHS following more than five years as Policy Director for Public Health—Seattle and King County, where she was a lead strategist for the region’s COVID-19 response, guiding vaccine delivery for a population of more than 2.2 million. She has expertise in healthy aging and long-term care from previous leadership positions with AARP and before that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and a global perspective on health from more than five years living and working in Asia. Ulrey has a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Region 10 encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Region 10 Indian Health Service offices also serve several federally recognized tribes in this region.