Governor Cuomo Makes New Appointments

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced several new appointments to his administration.

“This group of talented men and women bring a diversity of experience to their new positions,” Governor Cuomo said. “Their commitment to public service will be instrumental in our efforts to build a safer and stronger New York and I look forward to working with them in service to the people of our state.”

Jamie Malanowski has been appointed Senior Speechwriter for the Executive Chamber. He brings with him 30 years of experience in writing and editing. Most recently, Mr. Malanowski was the Lead Writer for the award-winning Disunion series in The New York Times, and the author of the biography Commander Will Cushing, Daredevil Hero of the Civil War. He has served as the National Editor of Spy and was a member of the founding staff; Senior Editor at Esquire; and Senior Editor at Time, among other positions. He also published two novels and more than 500 articles in more than thirty magazines, newspapers and websites in the United States and Great Britain. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Folio Award (the ‘Eddie’) for Magazine Feature Writing. He holds an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from LaSalle College.

Matthew Pennello has been appointed Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs. Matthew has worked in public service since 2010, most recently as the Governor’s Regional Representative for the Mohawk Valley. Prior to working at the Executive Chamber, he was the Assistant for Central New York Intergovernmental Affairs and Federal Policy for the NYS Department of Labor. He has also worked in the Department of Law of the Syracuse Corporation Counsel. A Central New York native, Matthew received his B.A. in Political Science from SUNY Cortland, where he earned a Research Fellowship studying the effect of terrorism on modern constitutional theory.

Melissa R. Quesada has been appointed Director of Latino Affairs, after previously having served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection at the Department of Labor where she was responsible for coordinating the planning and implementation of multi-agency statewide enforcement and outreach efforts. While at the Department Ms. Quesada also previously served as the Director of Outreach for the Governor’s Unemployment Strike Force, cultivating relationships with local businesses, targeted constituencies, elected officials and community organizations. Prior to that, Ms. Quesada served as a Special Associate for the New York City Law Department. She holds a J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law and a B.A. from Binghamton University.

Mary Beth Woods has been appointed Executive Director of the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board, after serving as the Acting Director. Ms. Woods has worked at the Workers’ Compensation Board for over 15 years, and held titles including Deputy Executive Director, Director of Financial Administration and Director of Licensing. From 1990-1998, Ms. Woods worked at the NYS Division of the Budget, where she was an Associate Budget Examiner. She was also a Supervising Senior Accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. Ms. Woods is currently a Board Member of the Compensation Insurance Rating Board and has previously served as the Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Group Self Insurance. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Siena College and is a Certified Public Accountant in New York State.

Justin Bernbach has been appointed Chief Government Affairs & Community Relations Officer at the MTA. Most recently, Mr. Bernbach was Northeast Director of Government Relations at HNTB, a national transportation design and program management company. Previously, he was the Managing Director of State and Community Affairs for American Airlines. In this role, he managed state and local government relations for American Airlines in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Prior to his role there, he was the Deputy Director of Communications at the Phoenix House Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit substance abuse treatment organization. Mr. Bernbach also served as the New York City-based Press Officer for the New York State Assembly from 2002-2004. He holds an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. in Government and Economics from Cornell.​

John Lockwood has been appointed Special Counsel to the Commissioner for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for the Office of Children and Family Services. Most recently he was the First Deputy County Attorney for the Family Court Unit at the Schenectady County Attorney’s Office. He also recently served as a Village Trustee for the Village of Scotia, N.Y. Prior to joining the Schenectady County Attorney’s Office, Mr. Lockwood was an Assistant Public Defender in the Schenectady County Public Defender’s Office. He will be replacing Barbara Kruzansky who will become Director of the Office of Agency Performance. He holds a J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law and a B.S. from Salve Regina University.

Peggy Rodriguez has been appointed Regional Representative for the Mohawk Valley. Previously, she was a Special Assistant for Labor Regional Affairs at the New York State Department of Labor. Prior, she held multiple roles at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, including Victim Advocate for the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center at UNLV, and a Research Assistant at the university’s Boyd Law School. Ms. Rodriguez holds a B.A in Political Science from UNLV.