the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

  • Francine Berman – Member, National Council on the Humanities
  • Deborah Willis – Member, National Council on the Humanities
  • Mario Cordero – Commissioner, Federal Maritime Commission, and upon appointment to be designated Chairman
  • Bella Dinh-Zarr – Member, National Transportation Safety Board
  • Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay, USN (Ret.) – Deputy Director, Office of Personnel Management
  • Paul A. Folmsbee – Ambassador to the Republic of Mali, Department of State
  • Mary Catherine Phee – Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Department of State

President Obama said, “These men and women have demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout their careers. I am grateful they have chosen to take on these important roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Dr. Francine Berman, Nominee for Member, National Council on the Humanities

Dr. Francine Berman is the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Chair of the Research Data Alliance (United States).  She joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as Vice President for Research in 2009.  Previously, Dr. Berman was Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center from 2001 to 2009.  She was also Director of the National Science Foundation’s National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure.  Previously, she held teaching positions at the University of California, San Diego.  She began her career as Assistant Professor at Purdue University in 1979.  Dr. Berman was Co-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access from 2007 to 2010.  In 2009, she was awarded the Association of Computing Machinery/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award and in 2008, she was recognized by the Library of Congress as a “Digital Preservation Pioneer.”  Dr. Berman received a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Dr. Deborah Willis, Nominee for Member, National Council on the Humanities

Dr. Deborah Willis is a contemporary artist, photographic historian, author, and educator.  She has been University Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts since 2001, and has been Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging since 2006.  From 2000 to 2001, she was the Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Dr. Willis was the curator of photographs and prints at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library from 1980 to 1992 prior to becoming exhibitions curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for African American History and Culture.  She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005.  Dr. Willis received a B.F.A. from the Philadelphia College of Art, an M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, an M.A. from City College of New York, and a Ph.D. from George Mason University.

Mario Cordero, Nominee for Commissioner, Federal Maritime Commission, and upon appointment to be designated Chairman

Mario Cordero is currently a Commissioner on the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), a position he has held since 2011.  He has also served as Chairman of the FMC since 2013.  From 2007 to 2008, he was House Counsel at Safeco Insurance.  Mr. Cordero was an Attorney at Adelson, Testan & Brundo from 2001 to 2006, Altman & Shoemaker from 1998 to 2001, Ochoa & Sillas from 1996 to 1998, and Robin, Carmack & Gonia from 1993 to 1996.  He served eight years on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, where he served one term as Board President and two terms as Vice-President.  Mr. Cordero also served as a Professor of Political Science at Long Beach City College, was on the Long Beach Community Development Commission, and served as Vice-Chair of the Long Beach Ethics Review Task Force.  Mr. Cordero received a B.A. from California State University, Long Beach and a J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Nominee for Member, National Transportation Safety Board

Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr is currently the Director of the FIA Foundation’s U.S. office.  She served as FIA Foundation’s Road Safety Director from 2007 to 2014.  Previously, Dr. Dinh-Zarr served as Director of North America’s Make Roads Safe Campaign for Global Road Safety from 2006 to 2007.  Prior to this position, she served as the American Automobile Association’s National Director of Traffic Safety Policy from 2002 to 2006.  From 2001 to 2002, Dr. Dinh-Zarr was a Social Scientist with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  From 2000 to 2001, she served as a Fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guide to Community Preventative Services Branch.  Dr. Dinh-Zarr served as a Research Associate with the Texas Transportation Institute from 2000 to 2001.  From 1997 to 1999 she was a Production Editor for the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care.  Dr. Dinh-Zarr received a B.A. from Rice University, and an M.P.H. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay, USN (Ret.), Nominee for Deputy Director, Office of Personnel Management

Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay, USN (Ret.), is currently Senior Advisor to the Director at the Office of Personnel Management.  He served as a Naval Aviator in the United States Navy from 1980 to 2013, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral.  Rear Admiral Gay was Commander of the Navy Recruiting Command from 2011 to 2013.  He served as Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Three from 2009 to 2011, Deputy Chairman of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee from 2008 to 2009, Commandant of Naval District Washington from 2007 to 2008, and the Navy's Director of Congressional Liaison for the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2007.  He was the Commanding Officer of the USS Belleau Wood (LHA3) from 2002 to 2004, and commanded two aviation squadrons, HSL-41 from 2000 to 2001 and HSL-43 from 1996 to 1998.  Rear Admiral Gay received a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy, an M.S. from Troy State University, and a certification from the U.S. Air War College. 

Paul A. Folmsbee, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Mali, Department of State

Paul A. Folmsbee, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is the Executive Director of the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State (DOS), a position he has held since 2012.  Previously, he served at DOS as the Senior Civilian Representative for Regional Command East in Afghanistan (embedded with the 1st Cavalry at Bagram) from 2011 to 2012, as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India from 2008 to 2011, and as Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader in Sadr City/Adhamiya in Baghdad, Iraq (embedded with the 2/82 Airborne) from 2007 to 2008.  From 2006 to 2007, Mr. Folmsbee was Director of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.  From 2003 to 2006, he was a Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and from 2000 to 2003, he was a Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  He also served at U.S. Embassies in La Paz, Bolivia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Libreville, Gabon; and Nairobi, Kenya, as well as at the U.S. Mission to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Geneva, Switzerland and in the DOS Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.  Mr. Folmsbee received a B.A. from Tabor College and an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma.

Mary Catherine Phee, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Department of State

Mary Catherine Phee, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Chief of Staff at the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, a position she has held since 2014.  Previously, Ms. Phee served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 2011 to 2014.  She served in the Department of State (DOS) as Director for Iraq at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2011, as Regional Affairs Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy from 2008 to 2009, and as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 2005 to 2008.  Ms. Phee was Special Assistant to the Secretary’s Senior Advisor on Iraq at DOS in 2005.  She served as Desk Officer for United Nations Political Affairs in the International Organizations Bureau in 2003 and again from 2004 to 2005 and from 2003 to 2004, she served as Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province in al-Amarah, Iraq. Ms. Phee was a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy in 2002.  She previously served at U.S. Missions in Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo, Egypt; and Amman, Jordan, and was a Desk Officer for Iran Affairs at DOS.  Before joining the Foreign Service, she was Deputy Press Secretary to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  Ms. Phee received a B.A. from Indiana University and an M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.