Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Office of the Press Secretary


March 25, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts: Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services; Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security, Department of Labor; Helen R. Kanovsky, General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Rhea Suh, Assistant Secretary for Policy Management and Budget, Department of Interior; and Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor, Department of Interior.

President Obama said, “At a time when our nation faces many challenges, it gives me confidence that these fine individuals have agreed to give their talents to serving the American people. They will be a valuable addition to my administration, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months.”

President Obama made the following announcement today:

Dr. Howard Koh, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Howard Koh is the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, and Director of the Division of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). At HSPH, he has served as the Principal Investigator of multiple research grants related to community-based participatory research, cancer prevention, health disparities, tobacco control, and emergency preparedness. He is also Director of the HSPH Center for Public Health Preparedness. Koh previously served as Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1997-2003) where he emphasized the power of prevention for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which included four public health hospitals and a staff of over 3000 professionals. Koh graduated from Yale College , Yale University School of Medicine and completed his postgraduate training and chief residencies at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital . He has earned board certification in internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology, and dermatology, as well as a Master of Public Health degree. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. Koh has published over 200 articles in the medical and public health literature. He has received numerous awards and honors including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Cancer Society. President Bill Clinton appointed Koh to the National Cancer Advisory Board (2000-2002). In recognition of his contributions to early detection and prevention of melanoma, the Boston Red Sox designated Koh as a “Medical All-Star” (2003), and invited him to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park . He and his wife, Dr. Claudia Arrigg, are the proud parents of three children.

Phyllis C. Borzi, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security, Department of Labor

Phyllis C. Borzi is currently a research professor in the Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University Medical Center, where she is involved in research and policy analysis involving employee benefit plans, the uninsured, managed care, and legal barriers to the development of health information technology. In addition, she is of counsel with the Washington , D.C. law firm of O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue, LLP where she specializes in ERISA and other legal areas affecting employee benefit plans, including pensions and retirement savings, health plans, and discrimination based on age or disability. Until January 1995, Borzi served as pension and employee benefit counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations of the Committee on Education and Labor. She was on the Committee staff for 16 years. In 1993, in connection with the Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform, chaired by former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Borzi served on working groups dealing with insurance reform, workers’ compensation and employer coverage. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from Syracuse University and received her law degree from Catholic University Law School , where she was editor-in-chief of the law review. Borzi is a charter member and a former President of the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel; she served as a member of its Board of Governors from 2000-2008. Borzi is also a current member of the Advisory Board of the BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (and a former co-chair of the Board) and a former member of the Advisory Committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Pension Research Council, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Board of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). In 2008, Borzi was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to serve as a public member of the Administrative Committee for the Goodyear VEBA, an entity that was judicially established pursuant to a negotiated settlement agreement between the company, the Steelworkers and class representatives for the Steelworkers retirees. Borzi has published numerous articles on ERISA, health care law and policy and retirement security issues and is a frequent speaker on programs sponsored by legal, professional, business, consumer and state and local governmental organizations. An active member of the American Bar Association, Borzi is the current chair of the ABA ’s Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (representing the Health Law Section) and a member of the CLE committee of the D.C. Bar Association. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Helen R. Kanovsky, Nominee for General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development

Helen R. Kanovsky is currently the chief Operating Officer of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. She has been with the Trust nearly 13 years. The Trust is a $3.4 billion registered investment company which invests in housing securities for its institutional investors, who are union and public pension plans. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust has provided over $5.25 billion to finance 86,000 units of multifamily housing creating over 58,000 union jobs in the construction industry. Kanovsky previously served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator John Kerry. She was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of GE Capital Asset Management and its predecessor, Skyline Financial Services Corporation. She was a partner and associate at Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin. She served as Special Assistant to Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris at HUD, HEW and HHS. For the past three years she has been the Chair of the National Housing Conference and she is a member of the Boards of the Center for Housing Policy and the Special Olympics of the District of Columbia , as well as a Trustee of the National Labor College . She holds an A.B. cum laude from Cornell University where she was Phi Beta Kappa and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School . Kanovsky has two children, Dr. Jennifer Dorfman, a resident in emergency medicine; and Emily Dorfman, union organizer.

Rhea Suh, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Policy Management and Budget, Department of Interior

Most recently, Rhea Suh was a Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, where she managed the program’s portfolio of grants designed to protect the ecosystems of the western part of North America . Suh has served as a consultant for the US National Park Service where she wrote educational strategy & developed educational programs for under-served constituencies (such as low-income communities) to bring National Park lessons to a broader audience in public schools. She served as Senior Legislative Assistant to Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell where she drafted & developed legislative initiatives, staffed the Senator at meetings & events, and regularly met with constituents. Prior to her work for Senator Nighthorse Campbell, Suh was a high school science teacher in New York City . Rhea serves on the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and is on its inclusive practices committee. She is also a member of the Asian-American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Association. Rhea holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Education from Columbia University and a masters’ degree in Education from Harvard. Suh’s graduate school project at the Kennedy School of Government focused on helping the US Park Service think through the options for how they could create a formalized educational program that could help bring the parks into classrooms around the country.

Hilary Tompkins, Nominee for Solicitor, Department of Interior

Hilary Tompkins has been Chief Counsel & Deputy Counsel in the Governor's office in New Mexico to Governor Bill Richardson from 2003 - 2008. Tompkins advised Governor Richardson on such legal and policy issues as legislation, political appointments, executive orders, constitutional authority, civil litigation, statutory interpretation, and intergovernmental affairs. Tompkins also managed the legal staff in the Governor's office as well as the general counsels in over twenty state executive agencies. She served as the Governor's liaison to the NM Attorney General's office as well as serving on several state commissions on the Governor's behalf. Tompkins provided expertise to the Governor in Native American affairs. From 2000 - 2002 she was an associate at Sonosky, Chambers, et al where the focus of her practice was water and environmental law although she also practiced in areas such as employment, taxation, gaming, lands, constitutional issues, torts and tribal jurisdiction. Additionally, Tompkins served as general counsel to several Indian tribes nationwide and was responsible for federal and tribal court litigation practice. From 1998 - 1999 Tompkins worked as Special Assistant US Attorney in Brooklyn , New York . There she was responsible for the defense and prosecution of civil actions on behalf of federal agencies in several legal areas including torts, constitutional law, employment, discrimination, forfeiture, bankruptcy, social security, environmental law and taxation. From 1996 - 1998 Tompkins was an Honors Program Trial Attorney with the US Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division. There she practiced enforcement of environmental statutes and regulations on behalf of client agencies. Tompkins was a Law Clerk and Extern for the Navajo Nation Supreme Court in 1995 where she analyzed complex questions of law raised upon appeal. She drafted bench memos, legal memoranda and court opinions. She also conducted an advanced research project on gender roles under traditional Navajo common law principles. Prior to that experience Tompkins was a legal intern at both the US Department of Justice and the Office of the White House Counsel. Tompkins is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and both her study and practice of law reflects her passion to provide legal assistance to other Native Americans as well as those in her home state of New Mexico .