Interior Department Announces Additional Members of Leadership Team

U.S. Department of the InteriorSource: U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior announced additional members of agency leadership who will work to address the climate and nature crises and advance President Biden’s vision to build a clean energy future that creates good-paying jobs and powers our nation.

“There is no shortage of work to be done to protect our public lands and waters, honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, and implement the President’s directives to secure a clean energy future,” said Jennifer Van der Heide, Chief of Staff. “Our new team members bring a wealth of talent and experience that will help us begin the noble work of building back better.”

The newest additions join a growing team with broad expertise and reflect the Biden-Harris commitment to diversity. In total, Interior’s political team includes 50% who identify as BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) and 80% as women.

The appointees are listed below in alphabetical order along with their new role:

  • Molly Callaghan, Advance Representative
  • Chelsey Cartwright, Deputy White House Liaison
  • Maria Castro, Special Assistant, National Park Service
  • Alexx Diera Special Assistant, Bureau of Land Management
  • Judith (Judy) Fong, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Fish and Wildlife and Parks
  • Mili Gosar, Deputy Chief of Staff – Operations
  • Emmie Horadam, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Policy, Budget and Management
  • Danna Jackson, Counselor to the Director, Bureau of Land Management
  • Natalie Landreth, Deputy Solicitor for Land
  • James Langhenry, Special Assistant, Bureau of Reclamation
  • Amanda Lefton, Director, Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management
  • Abdiel Razo, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff
  • Alex Sanchez, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management
  • Cristina M. Villa, Director of Scheduling and Advance
  • Caroline Welles, Special Assistant for Fish and Wildlife Services

Biographies are listed below:

Molly Callaghan, Advance Representative

Molly Callaghan grew up in Florida and moved to New Mexico in 2015 to attend college. Molly graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2018 earning a double major in Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in environment and sustainability. She spent much of her college experience working to elect local and statewide candidates in New Mexico. Upon graduating she worked first as a staff assistant and intern coordinator, and then as a field representative for Rep. Deb Haaland.

Chelsey Cartwright, Deputy White House Liaison

Chelsey Cartwright served as Northeast Regional Political Director on the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior, Chelsey was Southern Political Director for Warren Democrats. During the 2020 Presidential Primary, she led as Southern Regional Political Director at Warren for President. Previously, she was Deputy Political Director on Warren’s Senate re-election bid and Director of Constituent Services for former Boston City Councilor At-Large, and current Congresswoman Ayanna S. Pressley. Cartwright began her career working for former Governor Deval L. Patrick. Chelsey earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Emerson College. She is a proud native of Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood.

Maria Castro, Special Assistant, National Park Service

Maria Castro was most recently a Field Organizer with both of the Democratic Party of Georgia and the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaigns. Maria also served as a Legislative Intern for Rep. Reives’ office at the North Carolina General Assembly. Daughter of Nicaraguan immigrants, she was born and raised in Asheboro, North Carolina before moving to Western North Carolina for her undergraduate studies. Maria received degrees in Political Science and International Studies from Mars Hill University.

Alexx Diera, Special Assistant, Bureau of Land Management

Alexx Diera served as the Women’s Vote Director and a Regional Organizing Director on the Biden-Harris Coordinated Campaign in North Carolina. Alexx was also a Regional Organizing Director on Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign and brings over three years of experience organizing for several statewide and congressional campaigns in Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Master in Crop and Soil Sciences and holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina Asheville.

Judith (Judy) Fong, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Fish and Wildlife and Parks

Judith Fong was most recently a Partnership Associate for the 59th Presidential Inaugural Committee. During the 2020 election cycle, Judith served as a Deputy Organizing Director in Arizona and Regional Organizing Director for Kamala Harris’ primary campaign. She has also worked with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, served as a field organizer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and worked at Dewey Square Group in Washington, D.C. A native Californian, she has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Southern California.

Mili Gosar, Deputy Chief of Staff – Operations

Mili Gosar has over a decade of experience in public service, working for the government and on campaigns in leadership roles around the country. Mili was most recently the Regional Voter Protection Director for the Midwest on the Biden-Harris campaign. She started her career in her home state of Texas, where she worked in the Texas Senate and for state and local government. She is a graduate of American University and the University of Houston Law Center.

Emmie Horadam, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Policy, Budget and Management

Emmie Horadam was most recently the Deputy Organizing Director for the North Carolina Democratic Party, and served as the Latino Caucus Chair. Prior to that role, Emmie served as the Organizing Director for Organizing Together NC, Organizing Director in Maine for Mike Bloomberg for President, and New Hampshire Organizing Director for Sen. Cory Booker’s 2020 Presidential race. She is a native Floridian, and a proud graduate of Queens University of Charlotte.

Danna Jackson, Counselor to the Director, Bureau of Land Management

Danna Jackson has spent her entire legal career in the area of Natural Resources and Indian Law. Most recently, Danna has been chief legal counsel to the State of Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation – the agency that manages Montana’s trust lands, waters, state forests, and conservation initiatives. She has spent the majority of her career in the public sector including as a federal prosecutor and a Hill staffer. Danna grew up on a cattle ranch on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation in beautiful Western Montana.

Natalie Landreth, Deputy Solicitor for Land

Natalie Landreth joins the Department of the Interior after 17 years at the Native American Rights Fund, where she represented Tribes and Native Americans in treaty rights, public lands, aboriginal rights, APA and NEPA cases. Natalie received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College (magna cum laude) and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, and a descendant of survivors of the Trail of Tears.

James Langhenry, Special Assistant, Bureau of Reclamation

James Langhenry’s career has been guided by his passion for climate change mitigation and adaptation. James has multiple cycles of campaign experience, most recently as a research analyst focused on environmental policy for the Democratic National Committee. Previously, he was a research analyst in the private sector specializing in environmental crime and corruption in the developing world. His expertise includes political and climate research, and he holds a degree in International Relations from Marquette University.

Amanda Lefton, Director, Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management

Amanda Lefton most recently served as the First Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment for Governor Andrew Cuomo where she led the State’s climate and environmental initiatives and managed a portfolio of twelve agencies and authorities. In this role Amanda championed and advanced implementation of landmark nation leading climate and renewable energy strategies. Previously, she was the Deputy Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York, worked in the labor movement for the Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United, and for the New York State Assembly. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany.

Abdiel Razo, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff

Abdiel Razo most recently served as the Staff Assistant for Rep. Deb Haaland’s congressional office. Abdiel previously served as the Communications Associate for the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, advocating for immigrant justice in New Mexico. He received a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, double majoring in History and Political Science and a M.A. in International Relations and Law from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Alex Sanchez, Special Assistant, Office of Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management

Alex Sanchez’s first job in politics was as an organizer for New Mexico PIRG’s clean air campaign the summer before she attended Cornell University. Alex served in senior campaign research roles for Governor Bill Richardson and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico. She then worked as Research Director and Senior Advisor to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for a decade. Most recently, she worked as a researcher on the Bloomberg and Biden for President campaigns. Alex was born and raised in Albuquerque, and is a proud daughter of the Land of Enchantment, where her family has lived for centuries.

Cristina M. Villa, Director of Scheduling and Advance

Cristina Villa joins the Department of the Interior from the U.S. House of Representatives. Cristina served eight years as Senior Executive Assistant to Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. In her dual role between the Congressman’s office and the Natural Resources Committee, Cristina organized and collaborated with two distinct teams, coordinating local and national stakeholder meetings and special events. Prior to working in Congress, Cristina completed an AmeriCorps service term with over 1,000 service hours. A bilingual professional originally from Nogales, AZ, she received a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University.

Caroline Welles, Special Assistant for Fish and Wildlife Services

Caroline Welles previously worked as the National Surrogates Director at the Democratic National Committee, working to create and implement the National Surrogate Strategy for the 2020 General Election. Previously Caroline served as the DNC’s Early Primary and Caucus States Manager, working with the early primary and caucus states to create an effective primary process and facilitate the primary presidential debates. Her commitment to conservation was harnessed through her family’s non-profit work in Eastern Africa – focused on protecting endangered species. She holds a Masters with Honors in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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