WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden appointed the following individuals to serve in key regional leadership roles at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
These regional appointees will be critical to the President’s efforts to rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change. They bring deep expertise in their issue areas as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal, and local leaders. And, consistent with the President’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of America and the communities they serve.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster, and farm marketing programs in each U.S. State. Its mission is to equitably serve all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. State Executive Directors oversee this work, ensuring the needs of local constituents are met and that USDA resources are distributed equitably and fairly.
USDA’s Rural Development mission area is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. State Directors lead offices that offer grants, loans, and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services.
C. John Sullivan III, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Maryland
John Sullivan previously served as the Program Manager for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) overseeing the Animal Feeding Operations (AFO), Biosolids, Waste Diversion, and Hazardous Waste Permits divisions. Through the issuance of AFO permits and compliance he also emphasized the importance of a collective relationship between the Maryland Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, and represented MDE on the State Soil Conservation Committee. Prior to this role, Sullivan served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Agricultural Liaison to the Harford County, Maryland County Executive for the agricultural industry. He developed the first comprehensive agricultural economic development plan for Harford County, received the National Association of Counties Achievement Award for the Ag 2000 initiative and Buy Local Campaign, developed marketing programs to enhance economics of the agricultural industry, and conducted legislative service related to agriculture.
In the 1990s Sullivan served as an Agriculture and Natural Resource Fellow for the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program in Annapolis, MD and the National Civilian Community Corps in Washington, D.C. He has served as the Past President and is a current board member of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and the Maryland Agricultural Council; is an active member of the Maryland Farm Bureau; is an alumnus of LEAD Maryland and Leadership Maryland; and is a lifetime member of the Maryland Historical Society and the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum. Sullivan lives in Harford County, Maryland on his family’s fifth-generation property in Fallston with his wife and three children who are active in the beef and equine industry, 4-H Livestock, the FFA, and agricultural high school magnet programs.
Daniel A. Smiarowski, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Massachusetts
Daniel Smiarowski has worked with the USDA Farmers Home Administration and Farm Service Agency since 1986. He started as a Student Trainee upon graduating from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture where he studied fruit and vegetable crops. He became an Assistant County Supervisor after graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Agricultural Economics in 1988. Since then, he has served as a Farm Loan Specialist and District Director in the Massachusetts Farm Service Agency for a majority of his career. Over the past 35 years, he has worked with a diverse group of farms in Massachusetts including fruit and vegetables, cranberries, dairy, greenhouse operations, shellfish, and tobacco.
Smiarowski grew up on the 175-acre family farm located in Montague and Sunderland, MA that he currently owns and operates with his wife Penny. He is the third generation to operate the farm, which was started in 1923. The farm has operated as a dairy and a diversified vegetable farm over the years. Smiarowski currently produces asparagus, butternut squash, and pumpkins and leases the remainder of the land to family members and an organic beginning farmer. He has two children, Alexander and Alina.
Steve Kouplen, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Oklahoma
Born and raised on the family farm and ranch near Beggs in east central Oklahoma, Steve Kouplen learned the value of education, graduating from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural Education. While raising a family and operating a commercial Hereford cattle ranch and farm, Kouplen served in several county and state leadership roles, including serving as President of the Okmulgee County Farm Bureau and Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council, and member of the board of directors for the East Central Electric Cooperative, Beggs School District, and Okmulgee County Fair Board. He is also a past member of the local Farm Service Agency Committee and the Okmulgee County Rural Water District #6. Kouplen was elected in 2009 to the Oklahoma House of Representatives and quickly rose through the ranks to Minority Leader.
John Litz, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Tennessee
John Litz is a lifetime farmer in Hamblen County, Tennessee. He was born and raised on his family farm in Morristown that he and his wife Kathy now share. Their farming operation includes 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, turf grass, and a vineyard. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Litz was an owner/manager in a 2500+ head feed lot operation in charge of animal health and assisted with row crop management. Additionally, Litz graduated from the University of Kentucky’s 2-year Leadership Program. Litz has received awards for Lancaster Sunbelt Farmer of the Year for the State of Tennessee, Hamblen County Farm Family of the Year, and Hamblen County Agribusiness Person of the Year. He has been involved in organizations such as UT Agriculture Regional Advisory Committee, BPOE (Elks Lodge), Hamblen County Democrat Party, numerous Farm Bureau committees locally and state-wide, and is a member of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Morristown. He served as Vice-Chair of the State Democrat Party and is a member of the State Democrat Executive Committee. Litz also served four terms in the State House of Representatives for Hamblen County where he sat on the Agriculture Committee, State & Local Government Committee, Election Subcommittee, and was an officer as a freshman on the Calendar and Rules Committee. He was elected as Assistant Democrat Leader while in office. Litz looks forward to serving Tennessee as FSA Executive Director, and he will strive to keep farmers across the state informed about FSA programs.
John Roberts, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Vermont
John Roberts immigrated from Great Britain, after completing his college education with a BS degree in Farm Management, to Vermont in 1974. He managed Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont for two and a half years until the spring of 1977. At that time, Roberts and his wife Lisa bought a 260-acre farm in Cornwall. Starting with 36 cows, they farmed until 2012 and grew the farm to 400 acres and 195 registered Brown Swiss cows, and raised four children. Following that, Roberts worked for over six years for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture as a water quality specialist. Roberts assumed the position of Executive Director of the Coalition at the beginning of June 2020. Over the years, Roberts has been active in his community as a Select Board member as well as in several state and national committee positions focused on agricultural, conservation, and environmental policy, including the National Beef Board and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. On the state level, Roberts served on the Vermont Water Resources Board, the Vermont Housing Conservation Board, the Board of the Vermont Land Trust, and as Chair of the state USDA-FSA Committee and has been active in rewarding farmers for sound environmental practices.
Jonathan McCracken, USDA State Director, Rural Development, Ohio
Jonathan McCracken serves as a Senior Advisor to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). For the past 15 years, he has held various legislative positions related to agriculture, rural development, food, nutrition, energy, and environmental policy. McCracken has extensive experience bringing together and working with community leaders, economic development officials, and government agencies on programs benefitting Ohio and its rural communities. Prior to working for Senator Brown, McCracken began his career working for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). A native of Wilmington, Ohio, McCracken is a graduate of Wake Forest University and earned a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. McCracken currently resides with his family in Columbus, Ohio.
Margaret Hoffmann, USDA State Director, Rural Development, Oregon
Margaret Hoffmann has over a decade of experience working on rural economic development in Oregon. Hoffmann has spent the last five years working at the Farmers Conservation Alliance to help over 50% of irrigated agriculture modernize their systems to increase economic resilience and environmental benefits. As the Strategic Operations Manager, she helped raise over $750 million in infrastructure funding to move projects through planning, design, and implementation. Prior to joining the Farmers Conservation Alliance, Hoffmann served as the Energy Policy Advisor to Governors Brown and Kitzhaber. In that role, she coordinated with a broad array of stakeholders to facilitate the state’s transition to an economically resilient, lower-carbon future. Hoffmann has a deep understanding of how challenging it can be for people to navigate the complexities of accessing federal assistance She looks forward to leveraging Rural Development’s resources to increase equitable access program capital, address climate change, and economically recover from the ramifications of COVID.
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA)
Regional Administrators lead FEMA’s 10 Regional offices and coordinate directly with the FEMA Administrator to support state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) communities in their geographic area of operations delivering frontline services across the spectrum of preparedness, mitigation, response, recovery, and continuity programs. The Regional Administrators play a critical role in delivering timely, efficient, effective, and accessible federal assistance.
Lori Ehrlich, FEMA Regional Administrator, Region 1
During Lori Ehrlich’s 14-year tenure as a Massachusetts State Representative, she served in leadership roles as Chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and the Joint Committee on Export Development. She has filed and passed numerous bills into law on topics ranging from clean energy, climate change, and local journalism, to animal protection and reforming restrictive employment contracts. Ehrlich was appointed to serve on a U.S. Department of Energy Commission on Energy Preparedness.
Prior to her elected service, Ehrlich founded two environmental non-profit organizations that brokered both the closure of a 1950s-era coal-burning power plant and the remediation of a contaminated drinking water supply for 80,000 local residents. Ehrlich earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting from Lehigh University and is the only CPA currently serving in the legislature.
Region 1 serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
David Warrington, FEMA Regional Administrator, Region 2
David Warrington has almost 20 years of experience in the public sector. Most recently he was the Senior Manager of Strategic Preparedness for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he was responsible for developing an all-hazards risk management program to assess complex threats and lead the evaluation of mitigation strategies. Since 2014, he has led the advancement of next generation technology for the Agency’s chemical, biological, and radiological defense efforts. In 2019, he oversaw the review and comprehensive updates to all the Port Authority’s emergency operations plans.
Throughout his career Warrington has served in a leadership capacity for all command positions within the Port Authority’s incident command structure including responses to Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, U.S. Airways flight 1549 crash into the Hudson River, and numerous named winter storms. Additionally, he had a lead role in coordinating Agency resources to support Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey, and the 2015 Papal visit to New York City, both designated National Special Security Events. Warrington received his Bachelor of Arts degree from York College of Pennsylvania with a focus in criminal justice. He currently resides in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Region 2 serves New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Nancy Dragani, FEMA Regional Administrator, Region 8
Nancy Dragani has more than 26 years of experience in the emergency management field at state and federal levels. She began her career with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency in 1994; in 2005 she was appointed the executive director, a role she filled until 2014. Dragani was appointed as the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 8 Deputy Regional Administrator in January 2016. Her responsibilities included oversight of regional disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness activities. Dragani also served on FEMA’s National Advisory Council and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism Advisory Board. She held the position of President of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) from 2008-2009 and was the 2014 recipient of NEMA’s Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award, an annual award to an individual for outstanding contributions to emergency management. Dragani has a Master of Arts from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Dominican College where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Region 8 serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD)
Regional Administrators lead HUD’s 10 Regional Offices that directly serve state and local organizations. Regional Administrators oversee field offices across each state in their region and ensure the Department directly serves local communities. Regional Administrators play a key role in leading assignments of housing assistance funds within the region and coordinating those assignments with HUD headquarters.
Alicka Ampry-Samuel, HUD Regional Administrator, Region 2
Alicka Ampry-Samuel served as a member of the New York City Council where she chaired the Public Housing Committee and as Deputy Leader. Her council district represented the highest concentration of public housing in North America. Prior to being elected to the City Council, Ampry-Samuel served on the senior team at the New York City Housing Authority. She has held a number of public service positions, including as a Chief of Staff in the New York State Assembly and working at the United States Embassy in Accra, Ghana as a Democracy and Human Rights Coordinator. Ampry-Samuel has over 20 years of experience helping individuals, families, and organizations in the housing and community development fields.
Region 2 serves New Jersey and New York.
Matthew Heckles, HUD Regional Administrator, Region 3
Matthew Heckles has nearly 20 years of experience working to advance the cause of affordable housing and community development. Heckles served as the Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Director of the Community Development Administration. In this capacity, he oversaw the operations, administration, and financing of single-family mortgage, multifamily development financing, asset management, rental assistance, energy and weatherization, housing rehabilitation, small business lending, and local government infrastructure programs. Most recently, his work focused on COVID-19 relief programs that provided forbearance for small businesses as well as tenant and homeowner assistance. Prior to his service in Maryland, he worked in various positions at the Delaware State Housing Authority for over 12 years.
Region 3 serves Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Jose Alvarez, HUD Regional Administrator, Region 4
Jose Alvarez was born in Havana, Cuba and came to the United States as a child. Alvarez is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and a small business owner who has had the privilege of serving his industry and community by taking part in numerous home ownership and business growth initiatives. Among numerous appointments to industry committees and boards, he’s served on the Florida Association of Realtors® Board of Directors, the Osceola County Association of Realtors Board of Directors, and in 2009 he was elected to serve as President of the Osceola County Association of Realtors®. Throughout Alvarez’ 20+ years as a Realtor®, he has participated in numerous homeownership initiatives.
In 2012, Alvarez was elected to the Kissimmee City Commission where he championed diversified economic growth, affordable housing and homelessness initiatives, sustainable environmental policies, and fair labor practices. In 2016, he was elected to serve as City of Kissimmee Mayor, becoming the city’s first Hispanic Mayor. Over the years, Alvarez has served numerous causes, boards, and committees throughout Osceola County. From multi-million-dollar endeavors to life-changing initiatives, through his various board memberships and affiliations, Alvarez has been responsible for advising CEOs and lawmakers, contributing to strategic plans, approving budgets and business decisions, evaluating management, and representing his charge to stakeholders. Alvarez’ true passion is the people he represents. Alvarez and his wife Darlene have been married for 32 years and have five beautiful daughters and five grandchildren.
Region 4 serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ulysses “Deke” Clayborn, HUD Regional Administrator, Region 7
Ulysses Clayborn is currently the managing member of Clayborn & Associates, LLC, a law firm located in Kansas City, Missouri whose practice is focused in the real estate development area. The firm primarily represents developers and lenders engaged in development of multifamily housing and commercial development projects. Clayborn has experience with projects financed with funds from multiple sources, including multifamily revenue bonds, low-income housing tax credits (“LIHTC”), historic tax credits, and other federal, state, and local funds. He has also provided legal services to clients utilizing HUD financing tools, such as FHA-insured loan programs, Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), Choice Neighborhood Initiative and the Risk-Sharing. Clayborn was counsel on one of the first complete portfolio conversion RAD transactions in Missouri. Prior to forming Clayborn & Associates, he served as General Counsel to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (“MHDC”), the state’s housing finance agency. There he provided legal services to the MHDC board and staff, including those required to administer the federal LIHTC, state LIHTC, HOME Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant, and other housing programs. These programs provided the financial resources required for the development of thousands of affordable and mixed-income housing units throughout the state of Missouri. Clayborn has served as counsel to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, AltCap, an allocator of New Markets Tax Credits, and other entities engaged in commercial and economic development. His first legal position in the real estate area was as a closing attorney for HUD, where he was trained by attorneys possessing an expertise in FHA/HUD programs.
Region 7 serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.