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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 12/16/09

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

  • Marie Collins Johns, Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration
  • Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Member, Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation
  • Jonathan M. Young, Chair, National Council on Disability
  • Carol Jean Reynolds, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Fernando Torres-Gil, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Chester Alonzo Finn, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Gary Blumenthal, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Sara Gelser, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Ari Ne'eman, Member, National Council on Disability
  • Dongwoo Joseph "Joe" Pak, Member, National Council on Disability

President Obama said, “I am grateful that these fine individuals have chosen to serve in my administration. They will bring a depth of experience and valued perspective to their roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced today his intent to nominate the following individuals:

Marie Collins Johns, Nominee for Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration
Marie Collins Johns is Founder and Managing Member of L&L Consulting, LLC , a firm that offers management services to public, private and social sector clients.  Mrs. Johns retired as President of Verizon Washington, DC after a career of over 20 years in the telecommunications industry.  In that capacity, she led the $700 million operation, serving nearly 1 million customers.   In addition to her corporate experience, Mrs. Johns has also worked in management positions in the public and social services sectors.  She has a long resume of volunteer leadership positions that spans nearly 30 years.  Mrs. Johns founded the Washington DC Technology Council to foster the growth and development of technology companies in Washington, DC and she is a former chair of the DC Chamber of Commerce.  Among her many civic leadership roles, she currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts USA, a trustee of Howard University and Chair of the Board of the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. Mrs. Johns is a long time resident of the District of Columbia, and she holds BS and MPA degrees from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Nominee for Member, Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd is an accomplished engineer currently serving as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and Chair of the Johns Hopkins Institutions Diversity Leadership Council.  In her career as an engineer, and in her dedicated community service, Ms. Boyd has been a prominent advocate for women's equality and for the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. For her contributions to the community, she has received numerous awards and honors including: the 1996 Black Engineer of the Year Public Service Award congressional citations and recognition by U.S. Black Engineer magazine as one of the Nation's "Most Distinguished Black College and University Graduates". Ms. Boyd is a graduate (summa cum laude) of Alabama State University with a B. S. degree in Mathematics and a double minor in Physics and Music. She has the distinction of being the first African American to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. Ms. Boyd has also earned a Master of Divinity with Honors from Howard University and received Honorary Doctorates from Bennett College for Women and Lincoln University.

Jonathan M. Young, Nominee for Chair, National Council on Disability
Jonathan M. Young is Senior Counsel at FoxKiser LLP, and co-founder and Vice Chair of the Committee on Disability Power & Pride. Before law school he served in the Executive Office of the President (1998-2001), where he led several disability policy initiatives, provided counsel on disability policy, delivered numerous keynote addresses on behalf of the White House, and founded Disability Mentoring Day. At the NRH Center for Health and Disability Research (1996-1998), he authored Equality of Opportunity, a 1997 NCD publication that became the foundation for his 2002 dissertation on the disability rights movement. Awards include the 1987 NRH Victory Award® and the 2000 USJC Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School, a Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. from Messiah College.  Mr. Young is partially paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.

Carol Jean Reynolds, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Carol Jean Reynolds is the Executive Director of the Disability Center for Independent Living (DCIL) in Denver, Colorado.  DCIL is a grassroots service and advocacy organization that assists over 700 consumers each year, providing four core services to individuals with both physical and mental disabilities: peer counseling, independent living skills training, advocacy, and referrals.  Ms. Reynolds is a Member of the governing board of the National Council on Independent Living and serves as Co-Chairperson of its Mental Health Task Force.  She was awarded Board Member and Consumer of the Year by the National Association of the Mentally Ill – Colorado.  She is also a member of the Colorado State Rehabilitation Employment Council.  Ms. Reynolds speaks publicly on mental health issues, including providing testimony to the Colorado State legislature in connection with legislation providing funding to uninsured individuals with mental health issues. Ms. Reynolds has struggled with and overcome several mental health and substance abuse issues and has been in recovery for 26 years.

Fernando Torres-Gil, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Fernando Torres-Gil is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. Previously he served as a Professor of Gerontology and Public Administration at the University of Southern California, where he is still an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology. Before serving in academia, Mr. Torres-Gil was the first Assistant Secretary for Aging in the United States Department of Health and Human Services and as the Staff Director of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging.  Mr. Torres-Gil also served as President of the American Society on Aging from 1989 to 1992. He is currently a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors, the National Academy of Social Insurance and of the board of directors of Elderhostel, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AARP Foundation, the Los Angeles Airport Commission, and The California Endowment. Professor Torres-Gil is a polio survivor.

Chester Alonzo Finn, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Chester Alonzo Finn is a Special Assistant with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, providing services, supports, and advocacy to individuals with development disabilities and their families; in October of 2009 he was recently appointed to the OMRDD’s Leadership Team.  He is also President of the national board of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, Board Advisor to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) and a member of the Justice for All Action Networking Streaming Committee.  Mr. Finn is also an active member of the Board of Directors for the ARC of the United States, the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mr. Finn is blind and is developmentally disabled and is committed to fighting for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Gary Blumenthal, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Gary Blumenthal is the Executive Director for the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP), which aims to promote and ensure the health of the community-based organizations that provide supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.  He also served as the Executive Director for the Alta California Regional Center, which oversees service delivery for children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Sacramento region.  Previously, Mr. Blumenthal was the Wichita Regional Director for the Kansas State Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, CEO for the Florida State Protection and Advocacy Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities, and Director of the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation during the Clinton administration.  Mr. Blumenthal was also a member of the Kansas State House of Representatives for 11 years.  He was an American Government teacher in the Shawnee Mission Public Schools in Overland Park, Kansas for 12 years.  Mr. Blumenthal a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Sara Gelser, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Sara Gelser currently serves as State Representative for the citizens of Corvallis and Philomath in the Oregon State House of Representatives. The youngest woman in the Oregon State Legislature, she also serves as Assistant Majority Leader and chairs the House Education Committee. Previously Ms. Gelser served as the Children with Disabilities and Family Support Coordinator for the Oregon State Department of Human Services. Additionally, she served as a regional coordinator for the Oregon Parent Training and Information Center, where she provided training to parents, educators and administrators about the implementation of special education law. Ms. Gelser is the founder of the FG Syndrome Family Alliance, a non-profit organization serving families and medical professionals dealing with FG Syndrome, a rare developmental disability.  Ms. Gelser’s teenaged son, Sam, has FG Syndrome.

Ari Ne'eman, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Ari Ne’eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, where he initiates and directs efforts to increase the representation of autistic individuals in public policy discussions.  He is a leading advocate in the neurodiversity movement, frequently briefing policymakers and speaking publicly on disability and autism policy issues. Mr. Ne’eman also serves as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represents autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services.  He also previously served on the New Jersey’s Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion.  Mr. Ne’eman previously served as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability. He is a board member of TASH and the Autism National Committee. In 2008, he received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award. Mr. Ne’eman is currently an undergraduate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County where he studies political science and expects to graduate in May 2010.  In 2000, Mr. Ne’eman was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

Dongwoo Joseph "Joe" Pak, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability
Joe Pak is Vice President and Loan Officer of the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach, CA.  Previously, Mr. Pak worked as the Director of External Affairs for SBC/Pacific Bell, representing the company to city officials and state legislators as well as to community and business leaders.  He is currently a board member of Acacia Adult Day Health Care Services. Mr. Pak has served on the Special Needs Advisory Board for the Orange County Transit Authority and on the California State Rehabilitation Council, where he focused on increasing the low rate of employment among people with disabilities.  He is also a former Board Member and Program Chair for the Korean Health Education, Information, and Research Center.  Mr. Pak earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. At three years of age, Mr. Pak’s left arm was paralyzed by the disease polio.