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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: November 13, 2020
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Announces Administration Appointments

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced additional appointments to his Administration today.

Office of the Governor

David Cary, Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Care and Education and Chief of Staff to First Lady Pamela Northam
David Cary has been appointed Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Care and Education and will continue to serve as Chief of Staff to First Lady Pamela Northam, a position he has held since January 2018. David previously served on the Northam for Governor campaign and has managed civil rights, healthcare, and environmental issue campaigns in Hawaii, Texas, and New Hampshire. He is a Chesterfield County native and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Melissa Assalone, Deputy Legislative Director
Melissa Assalone has been appointed Deputy Legislative Director. She has served as Policy Advisor since December 2018. Prior to joining the Northam Administration, she served as Virginia Government Relations Director at the American Heart Association where she managed state and local health policy portfolios. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and received her Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Aja Moore, Policy Assistant
Aja Moore has been appointed Policy Assistant. Prior to her appointment, Aja served as Legislative Assistant to Senator L. Louise Lucas. She is a native of Portsmouth, has held a variety of positions with local campaigns and political committees. Aja is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.

Office of the Chief Workforce Development Advisor

Felix Schapiro, Assistant Secretary of Workforce Development
Felix Schapiro has been appointed as Assistant Secretary of Workforce Development. He has served as Workforce Policy Analyst in the Office of the Chief Workforce Development Advisor since February 2018. Prior to that, he served as Special Assistant for Communications in the Office of the Secretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Natural Resources in the McAuliffe Administration. A native of Richmond, Felix holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Philosophy from the College of William & Mary.

Secretariat of Commerce and Trade

John Begala, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade
John Begala has been appointed Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade. John has served as Legislative Advisor since December 2019, and prior to that was Aide to the Governor for three years. John is a graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government.

Turner Widgen, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Turner Widgen has been appointed Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade. She has served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce and Trade since August 2018, and prior to that served as Communications Specialist and Associate Communications Manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Turner is a proud native of the Eastern Shore and graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.

Kyle Rosner, Deputy Broadband Advisor
Kyle Rosner has been appointed Deputy Broadband Advisor. He has served as Broadband Policy Assistant since January 2019. Prior to joining the Northam Administration, Kyle was a government relations and advocacy associate for Patient Services, Inc. and served as Confidential Assistant to the Secretary of Administration in the McAuliffe Administration. Kyle graduated from Radford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science.

Secretariat of Public Safety and Homeland Security

Shawn Talmadge, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Shawn Talmadge has been appointed Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. He was appointed Homeland Security Advisor in September 2020 and has served as Assistant Secretary for Public Safety and Homeland Security since April 2018. Shawn has also previously served as Director of the Response Programs Division at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and was Director of Homeland Security and Resilience during the McAuliffe Administration. He is a former Deputy Commander for the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) and former Battalion Chief of the Hanover County Fire-EMS Department. Shawn holds a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition from Virginia Tech, and earned a master’s degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jacquelyn Katuin, Assistant Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Jacquelyn Katuin has been appointed Assistant Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. She has served as Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security since January 2019. Prior to joining the Northam Administration, she served as a legislative intern for Senator Tim Kaine, working on a variety of issues from health care to education. She also previously worked as a researcher at a higher education consulting firm. Jacquelyn earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Virginia.

Secretariat of Natural Resources 

Meryem Karad, Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources
Meryem Karad has been appointed Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources. She has served as Special Assistant for Policy and Communications to the Secretary of Natural Resources since March 2019. Prior to that, she served as Assistant to the Secretary of Natural Resources under Governor Ralph Northam and Governor Terry McAuliffe and has worked for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering and the American Thyroid Association. Meryem received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law from the University of Virginia.

Secretariat of the Commonwealth
Board Appointments

Advisory Board on Midwifery

  • Erin K. Hammer, CPM LM of Newport News, Midwife, Coastal Homebirth, LLC

Board of Conservation and Recreation

  • Danielle Rose Heisler* of Richmond, Senior Director of Product, Capital One
  • Vivek R. Shinde Patil, PhD* of Arlington, Biotech Entrepreneur
  • Camilla Simon of Henrico, Executive Director, HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors is a program of the National Wildlife Federation)

Board of Psychology 

  • J.D. Ball* of Virginia Beach, Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Aliya Chapman of Blacksburg, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Owner, Pathways Psychology, LLC
  • Peter L. Sheras, PhD, ABPP, LCP* of Charlottesville, Clinical Psychologist, Charlottesville Psychological Associates and Professor Emeritus, Department of Human Services, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
  • Stephanie Valentine of Chesterfield, Intake Coordinator, Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services

Board of Trustees of the Family and Children’s Trust Fund 

  • Season R. Roberts of Virginia Beach, Communications Consultant, The Miles Agency

Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority

  • The Honorable Margaret A. “Maggie” Asbury* of Tazewell, Member, Tazewell County Board of Supervisors (Northern District)
  • Esther W. Bolling* of Wise County, President and CEO, Bolwell Financial Consultants, Ltd.
  • Becky Coleman* of Scott County
  • Mark T. Leonard, FACHE* of Norton, Healthcare Executive
  • The Honorable Larry R. Mosley* of Jonesville, Vice Chairman, Lee County Board of Supervisors (District 3)

Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors

  • E. Sean Lanier of Alexandria, Founder and Executive Director, Resolve Solutions Inc.

*denotes reappointment

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