WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to serve in key roles:
- Guion S. Bluford Jr., Member, Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum
- Michael X. Garrett, Member, American Battle Monuments Commission
- Olivia Mae M. Asuncion, Member, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board
- Abba Cohen, Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
- Joseph Douek, Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
- Yair D. Robinson, Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
- Meghan Kristine Hays, Member, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
- Scott R. Calisti, Commissioner, Department of Air Force, U.S. AbilityOne Commission
Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum
The Smithsonian’s Advisory Boards provide advice, expertise, and assistance to the Institution’s leadership on the widely diverse programs and operations of the Smithsonian. Advisory Board members help ensure the success of the individual museums and centers. The National Air and Space Museum’s Advisory Board includes the current administrators of NASA and the FAA; the chiefs of staff of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force; the commandants of the U.S. Marines and Coast Guard; and the chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force along with three citizen members appointed by the President.
Guion S. Bluford Jr., Member
Dr. Guion “Guy” S. Bluford, Jr. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) is a NASA Astronaut, aerospace engineer, military officer, and senior engineering executive. He is the first African American astronaut to fly in space and the first African American astronaut to return to space a second, third, and fourth time. Bluford has logged over 5,200 hours in high performance jet aircraft and has flown over 688 hours in space. He is the first African American to be awarded the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has both a masters and doctorate degree in aerospace engineering with extensive government and industry management engineering experience. Bluford has served on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Board, the Aerospace Corporation Board of Trustees, the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, and the Space Foundation Board. He was the Founder and President of the Aerospace Technology Group of Cleveland, Ohio. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010, and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2019.
American Battle Monuments Commission
Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission is a federal agency charged with guarding America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials that honor the service, achievements, and sacrifices of U.S. Armed Forces. American Battle Monuments Commission oversees 26 permanent American military cemeteries and 32 federal memorials, monuments, and markers located across 17 foreign countries and the United States.
Michael X. Garrett, Member
General Michael Xavier Garrett, born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised on military installations across the world, has spent his entire life in and around the U.S. Army. He is the proud son of Lola Garrett, a U.S. Army spouse and life-long public servant, and Command Sergeant Major Edward Garrett, a Vietnam War combat veteran and Silver Star recipient. Garrett, an alumnus of both the Department of Defense High School in Baumholder, Germany, and Xavier University in Cincinnati, began his own Army journey in 1984. He served his formative years in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and over a decade was assigned to and wore the scrolls of the Regiment’s headquarters and each of its three Ranger battalions.
Garrett went on to command his own formations in the 82nd Airborne and 25th Infantry Divisions, served multiple combat tours in the Middle East, and ultimately led 750,000 combat and support personnel within the Army’s largest organization: Forces Command. After 38 years of active service, he retired as an Army four-star general, and continues to build connections with U.S. service members and their families, patriotic communities across America, and Soldier-friendly universities and businesses. Upon retirement, he was inducted by his own son as a Distinguished Member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and is the recipient of the Ellis Island Honors Society Medal of Honor along with honorary degrees from Methodist and Xavier University.
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology. It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and accessible design and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities.
Olivia Mae M. Asuncion, Member
Olivia Mae M. Asuncion, AIA, has oriented her career path towards building accessible communities and advocating for inclusive design as a licensed architect and design researcher from Oakland, California. She started her professional career helping Bay Area non-profit organizations with their construction, project, and property management needs, including the Ed Roberts Campus, a universally designed building in Berkeley that hosts several disability organizations. Her architecture experience includes the design and construction of public safety buildings, public sector office and community spaces, and K-12 educational facilities. Asuncion is also passionate about improving architecture through environmental design research. Her notable projects include: a study assessing the efficacy and accessibility of existing evacuation protocols and building safety codes for people with disabilities; collaboration with University of Oregon faculty on the post-occupancy evaluation of the Ed Roberts Campus; and a Fulbright Program project studying the accessibility of elementary schools in the Philippines. In addition, she has lectured on the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in the built environment to university students and design professionals. Asuncion is also an active member of and has served as a Young Architect leader for the American Institute of Architects. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon.
Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
The U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad was established in 1985 to ensure that sites important to populations impacted by Nazism, communism, and the Cold War would be preserved for future generations. The Commission’s mission is to identify, protect, and preserve cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that are associated with U.S. heritage. The work recognizes that the population of the United States is mostly comprised of immigrants and their descendants, and that the United States has an interest in the preservation of sites in other countries related to the heritage of these Americans.
Abba Cohen, Member
Rabbi Abba Cohen has been involved in Jewish public life for close to 40 years. Since 1989, he has overseen the federal activities of Agudath Israel of America and is currently the group’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director. He previously served in the Middle East and Latin American Affairs Departments of the Anti-Defamation League. Much of Cohen’s international activities are focused on combatting antisemitism, protecting the security and religious and civil rights of Jewish and other communities, as well as on restoring, preserving, and returning properties stolen and desecrated during the Holocaust. In this work, he has cooperated extensively with federal agencies, as well as with embassies and international organizations. Cohen is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, the Columbia University School of International Affairs, and the Georgetown University Law Center, and was ordained at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College.
Joseph Douek, Member
Joseph Douek is a businessman and philanthropist with over 25 years of experience. He currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of Viceroy Equities, an investment and hedge fund management firm based in Brooklyn. Among other initiatives, Viceroy Equities has invested in Opportunity Zones, with the goal of spurring development in several areas throughout Brooklyn. Douek was appointed to the City Planning Commission in 2012 by the Brooklyn Borough President to represent Brooklyn, and was reappointed in 2017. Douek got his start selling wholesale photography supplies, and went on to become the owner and CEO of Willoughby’s, New York’s oldest photography retailer. Douek has also served on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, as well as the Board of Directors for the NYC Industrial Development Agency. Douek has served on the Board of Trustees for several non-profit entities, including the Brooklyn Public Library and the Jewish Children’s Museum. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Yair D. Robinson, Member
As far back as he can remember, Yair Robinson has been committed to making a positive difference in the world. Active in social action causes since he was a teen growing up on Cape Cod, where his father was the rabbi of the local synagogue and his mother the president of Hadassah, Robinson Oberlin College and then received rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College in 2003. He served Shir Ami in Newtown, Pennsylvania for six years before moving to Wilmington, Delaware, where he has been the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Emeth since 2009. In addition to his pulpit work, preaching, teaching, and providing pastoral care, he has worked with many local organizations, including serving on the boards of Rotary Club of Wilmington, The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia, The Ninth Ward Interfaith Coalition, The Siegel JCC and Jewish Family Services, Planned Parenthood of Delaware and Clergy for Choice, and the ACLU of Delaware, always striving for a sacred, just, and loving community. He is married to Dr. Marisa Robinson and they have one son, Elishai, who graduates from Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington in 2025.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
Established in 1969, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) was the nation’s first bi-state regional environmental planning agency. Their mission is to lead the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. TRPA protects and restores Lake Tahoe’s environment while revitalizing and enhancing our communities. TRPA is charged with regional planning, development and redevelopment oversight, regulatory enforcement, and implementation of environmental protection and restoration programs for the Lake Tahoe Region.
Meghan Kristine Hays, Member
Meghan Hays worked for President Biden for nearly a decade in various strategic communications positions. Hays served as a Special Assistant to the President and Director of Message Planning in the White House where she played a key role in the President’s strategic messaging for domestic and international engagements. Hays also served as a Deputy Communications Director on the Biden Campaign in 2020. After leaving the White House, Hays served as an advisory board member to SustainabiliD, a climate tech and sustainability firm. Hays also worked in senior communications positions at MGM Resorts International and in the White House for then-Vice President Biden. She is currently the Chief of Staff to the General Counsel and Global Head of Communications and
Government Affairs at AIG. Hays is a native of Sacramento, CA and graduated from the University of California Davis.
U.S. AbilityOne Commission
The U.S. AbilityOne Commission is the independent federal agency that oversees the AbilityOne Program, whose mission is to tap America’s underutilized workforce of individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities to deliver high quality, mission-essential products and services to federal agencies in quality employment opportunities. AbilityOne is one of the largest sources of jobs in the country for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, an underserved population that has historically experienced the lowest employment rate of any segment of U.S. society. Approximately 40,000 AbilityOne employees, including over 2,500 veterans, work at approximately 450 nonprofit agencies from Guam to Maine. The Commission administers the Program with the assistance of two central nonprofit agencies – National Industries for the Blind and SourceAmerica – in accordance with the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act. The U.S. AbilityOne Commission is the operating name for the agency, whose statutory name is the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. The Commission consists of 15 Presidential appointees: 11 represent federal agencies and four are private citizens representing people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
Scott R. Calisti, Commissioner, Department of Air Force
Scott Calisti, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary (Contracting) for Headquarters U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. He assists the Deputy Assistant Secretary in carrying out responsibilities for all aspects of contracting related to the acquisition of weapon systems, logistics support, materiel, and services for the Department of the Air Force. In this role, he oversees the training, organizing, and equipping of a workforce of some 8,000 contracting professionals.
In his previous assignment, Calisti served as the Director for Contract Policy in the office of the Principal Director, Defense Pricing and Contracting, within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. In this capacity, he led the development of new, innovative acquisition policy. Also, he was appointed as the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s AbilityOne Representative (ABOR), supporting the Office of Management and Budget implementation of the ABOR program across all Federal agencies. He joined civil service in 2014 after completing over 26 years on active duty in multiple assignments including Headquarters Air Force, Joint Staff, and the completion of six command tours before retiring in September 2013. Calisti earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University and a Master of Administrative Management degree from Central Michigan University. He also earned a Masters of National Security and Resource Strategy from the National Defense University, Eisenhower School. Calisti has been a member of the Senior Executive Service since 2020.