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Press Release - President Biden Announces Additional Nominees

November 17, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve in key roles:

  • M. Tia Johnson, Nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • Dimitri Kusnezov, Nominee for Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security
  • Steven Fagin, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Yemen
  • Jodi Herman, Nominee for Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Public Affairs, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Lester Martinez-Lopez, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Department of Defense
  • Rebecca Jones Gaston, Nominee for Commissioner for the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health and Human Services

    M. Tia Johnson, Nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
    M. Tia Johnson is a full-time professor of law and the former Director of the National Security Law LL.M Program at Georgetown Law, where she has taught since 2017. She is also a Visiting Fellow at Georgetown's Center on National Security and the Law and a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. Ms. Johnson previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as the Senior Advisor to the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Prior to that, Ms. Johnson retired from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, where she specialized in international and national security law. In 2002, she became the first African-American woman to be selected to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army's JAG Corps' 227-year history. In her final assignment, Ms. Johnson served as the Senior Military Assistant to the Department of Defense General Counsel.

    Ms. Johnson received her J.D. from Temple University, and two LL.Ms: one from the Judge Advocate Generals' School and the other from the University of Virginia School of Law. She also received a M.S. in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

    Dimitri Kusnezov, Nominee for Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security
    Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov is a theoretical physicist working at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), currently focusing on emerging technologies. He has served in numerous positions at DOE, most recently as the Deputy Under Secretary for Artificial Intelligence & Technology where he led the efforts to drive AI innovation and bring it into DOE missions, business, and operations, including through the creation of a new AI Office. Prior to that, he has served as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Chief Scientist for the National Nuclear Security Administration, CIO, Director of Advanced Simulation and Computing, and the Director of the multi-billion-dollar National Security Science, Technology and Engineering programs. He created numerous programs, including for Minority Serving Institutions, International partnerships, with the private sector and philanthropy, across agencies, and has delivered major milestones such as the DOE's 10-year grand challenge for a 100 Teraflop supercomputer, and first of their kind and world's fastest supercomputers.

    Dr. Kusnezov received A.B. degrees in Physics and in Pure Mathematics with highest honors from UC Berkeley. Following a year of research at the Institut fur Kernphysik, KFA-Julich, in Germany, he attended Princeton University, completing his M.S. in Physics and Ph.D. in Theoretical Nuclear Physics. After time as a postdoc and Instructor at Michigan State University, he joined the Yale University faculty as a professor in theoretical physics and has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities around the world. Dr. Kusnezov has published over 100 articles and edited 2 books. After more than a decade on the Yale faculty, he left academia to pursue public service at the Department of Energy and became a member of the Senior Executive Service.

    Steven Fagin, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Yemen
    Steven H. Fagin, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad, Iraq. Prior to that, Fagin was the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, Iraq. He has also served as the Director, Office of Iranian Affairs, in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau of the State Department and as the Director of the Office of Regional Affairs in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Earlier in his career, Fagin was the Director of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Office at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the Political-Economic Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium and the Deputy Political Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. He also held assignments in Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Georgia and Egypt in addition to serving as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, and as the Desk Officer for Pakistan. Fagin earned a B.A. from Williams College and an M.A. from the University of Michigan.

    Jodi Herman, Nominee for Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Public Affairs, U.S. Agency for International Development
    Jodi Herman is the Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a grant-making organization that supports freedom and democracy initiatives around the globe. Prior to joining NED, she served as the Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Senator Benjamin Cardin (MD) and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ). Herman has also worked in private legal practice, as Special Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador at the Organization of American States, and as a Legislative Assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. She is member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for a Secure America, a member of the Women's Advisory Board for Girl Scouts of the Nation's Capital, and volunteers as a Girl Scout troop leader.

    Herman was born and raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and resides in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children. She received her B.A. in International Studies from American University and her J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

    Lester Martinez-Lopez, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Department of Defense
    Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez was most recently the Chief Medical Officer at the Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida and Senior Vice President and Administrator of the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital in Harris County Texas. He retired from the U.S. Army with the permanent rank of Major General as the first Latino to head the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Dr. Martinez-Lopez's responsibilities included directing the Army's worldwide medical research, acquisition, and logistics program. He oversaw a vast research portfolio that included cancer, trauma, infectious diseases, biodefense, chemical defense, nutrition, environmental health, aviation medicine, and telemedicine research. He also directed the premier national biological and chemical defense laboratories and research program and led the development of the National Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick, MD. Prior to these duties he was the Commanding General of the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at Edgewood, Maryland. In this assignment he directed a worldwide public health organization, responsible for preventive medicine, health promotion and wellness, global medical surveillance, occupational and environmental health, and health risk communication. Earlier in his career, he was the commander of three distinct hospitals, oversaw the military health support during Hurricane Mitch in Central America, and served as the Chief Medical Officer of the United Nation's Mission in Haiti.

    Rebecca Jones Gaston, Nominee for Commissioner for the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
    Rebecca Jones Gaston is currently the Child Welfare Director for the State of Oregon's Department of Human Services that oversees child protection, foster care, and adoption services, a position she held since 2019. During her time as Director, Oregon has launched a major transformation built on trauma-informed, family, and community-centered and culturally responsive programs and services. Prior to joining the Oregon senior management team, she served as the Executive Director of the Maryland Department of Human Services' Social Services Administration with oversight of child welfare and adult services. She has worked in the field of human services and child welfare for nearly 25 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant, and administrator. Previously, she was a Director with Casey Family Programs providing technical assistance to child welfare agencies throughout the United States and served as the National Campaign Director for AdoptUsKids, a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau and the National Ad Council. This major campaign continues to help increase the numbers of foster and adoptive families across the country.

    With a specialized knowledge and experience on responsible change management approaches, Jones Gaston is committed to working on the implementation of successful evidence-based programs, including around recent federal legislation that is providing older youth with additional COVID support services and implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act. Over the years, she has formed strategic national and state partnerships with organizations that share the same goals of safety, permanency, and well-being for those served by public agencies. A proud mother of two young adults, she holds a degree in psychology from Georgetown University and a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.

Joseph R. Biden, Press Release - President Biden Announces Additional Nominees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353459

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