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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced additional appointments to his Administration today.
Secretariat of Natural Resources
Joshua Saks, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources
Joshua Saks has been appointed Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources. Prior to his appointment, he served as Legislative Director at the National Wildlife Federation’s National Advocacy Center in Washington, DC where he managed a portfolio that included climate change and carbon reduction, climate resiliency, public lands and the Endangered Species Act. He has also held legislative and research positions at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corporation and the Clean Air Council. Joshua obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Ithaca College and a Master of Arts degree in Classics from St. John’s College. He also completed coursework in economics at the USDA Graduate School.
Ellen Bolen, Deputy Director, Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Ellen Bolen has been appointed Deputy Director of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Prior to her appointment, Ellen served as a Senior Advisor to the Administrator and the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she worked on fishery and coastal policies. She has also held roles as Director of the Fishery Conservation Program and Associate Director of Government Relations at the Ocean Conservancy, and as a field biologist at the Mote Marine Laboratory studying manatee population dynamics. Ellen graduated from the Master of Environmental Management program at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma.
Christopher Bast, Deputy Director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Christopher Bast has been appointed Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Most recently, Chris served as a Climate and Transportation Policy Advisor in the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, where he led electric mobility and transportation decarbonization efforts. Prior to that, Chris managed public policy and stakeholder engagement at a regional clean energy economy advocacy organization in the Northwest. He previously served as Deputy Director of Constituent Services and as a climate and energy policy advisor to former Governor Tim Kaine. He has held positions in Virginia state government, including an appointment as Policy Advisor at the State Board of Elections and as a program manager at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. A Virginia native, Chris graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and received a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University.
Secretariat of Public Safety
Virginia Parole Board
Linda L. Bryant
Linda Bryant has been appointed to the Virginia Parole Board. She is an attorney from Chesapeake, Virginia. Parachutist qualified, she has served as a Captain on active duty in the United States Army, a Trial Defense Attorney and Major in the United States Army Reserves, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Norfolk, Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Division of the Office of the Attorney General, and most recently, as Interim Assistant Superintendent and Compliance Attorney for the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.
She graduated from The University of Virginia, where she double majored in History and Spanish, and obtained her J.D. from the College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law.
Jean W. Cunningham, Vice Chair
Jean Cunningham has been reappointed to the Virginia Parole Board, where she has served since January 2017. Prior to this, she was appointed by Governor Warner to the State Council of Higher Education and by Governor Kaine to serve as chair of the State Board of Elections. From 1986 to 1998, she represented part of Henrico and part of the City of Richmond as the delegate for the 71st District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Cunningham worked for Reynolds Metals Company (now Alcoa) for twenty three years and retired from Alcoa as a vice president of human resources for two business units with offices in the United States and Europe. She is a 1974 cum laude graduate of the Howard University School of Law.
The Reverend Dr. A. Lincoln James, Member
Reverend Dr. A. Lincoln James has been reappointed to the Virginia Parole Board, where he has served since 2014. James previously served as a pastor of three churches, third vice president of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, member of the board of trustees at the University of Lynchburg, adjunct professor at Virginia Union University’s Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology, and immediate past president of the Virginia Baptist State Convention.
James earned a bachelor’s degree from North Park College and Seminary; he later earned a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University’s Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology and received two honorary doctorates.
Sherman P. Lea, Sr., Member
Sherman Lea, Sr. has been reappointed to the Virginia Parole Board, where he has served since 2014. He previously served in the Virginia Department of Corrections for 35 years before retiring in January 2012. He began his corrections career as an institutional parole officer in Richmond and upon his retirement had achieved the position of Regional Administrator for the Western Region of Community Corrections.
Lea has been serving on the Roanoke City Council since 2004. He was elected Mayor in 2016 after serving as Vice Mayor from 2008 through 2010. Prior to being elected to the Roanoke City Council, he served as chairman of the Roanoke City School Board. Lea received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Virginia Union University. He attended the Graduate School of Urban Studies at Old Dominion University and received an Honorary Doctor Degree in Humane Letters.
Secretariat of the Commonwealth
Board of Medical Assistance Services
Breaks Interstate Park Commission
Housing Development Authority
Manufactured Housing Board
Joint Advisory Board of Economists
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