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McAuliffe announces administration appointments


Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe announced additional appointments to his administration today, including the appointment of Carlos Hopkins as Counsel to the Governor and additional appointments to the Governor’s Office and Cabinet. The appointees will join McAuliffe’s administration focused on finding common ground with members of both parties on issues that will grow Virginia’s economy and create more jobs across the Commonwealth.


Office of the Governor 

Carlos Hopkins, Counsel to the Governor

Carlos Hopkins currently serves as a Deputy City Attorney in Richmond. Prior to joining the City Attorney’s Office, Hopkins operated a small, private practice. He served as the Training Director for the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, and as a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Richmond. Hopkins holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard.


Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Jr., Legislative Director

Felix Sarfo-Kantanka previously served as Special Assistant to Governor Tim Kaine for policy, where he specialized in public safety and Commonwealth preparedness issues. Following his role with the Governor, Sarfo-Kantanka joined McGuireWoods Consulting as Assistant Vice President of State Government Relations. Sarfo-Kanktanka also served as legislative assistant to former Delegate and House Minority Leader Franklin P. Hall, where he oversaw and coordinated activities for the 69th legislative House district, provided constituent services, and researched legislative issues. Sarfo-Kantanka graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Anna Healy James, Policy Director

Anna Healy James previously served as Special Assistant to Governor Mark Warner for policy, where she established and oversaw the Governor’s Healthy Virginians initiative as well as advised  the Governor on issues such as teacher quality, K-12 education, procurement, capital outlay, healthcare and higher education. Most recently, James served as Manager for State Government Affairs for Troutman Sanders Strategies, where she focused on state-related matters in the areas of healthcare, education, capital outlay, procurement and appropriations. Prior to that, James was the Director of Government Relations for Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System.  James received her M.B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Tracy Retchin, Deputy Counsel to the Governor and Policy Advisor

Tracy Retchin received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA. Her experience spans working in law firms, government relations, and the entertainment field. She has developed and administered a pre-law advising program at Virginia Commonwealth University and served as Director of the University of Richmond School of Law Career Services Office. Ms. Retchin is a member of the Virginia Bar and the District of Columbia Bar.


Brian Coy, Press Secretary

Brian Coy served as Communications Director of Governor-elect McAuliffe’s transition team, and previously was the Communications Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia where he served as an adviser on numerous campaigns including McAuliffe for Governor, Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate, and Barack Obama’s reelection effort. Brian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from James Madison University.


Rachel Thomas, Traveling Press Secretary

Rachel Thomas served as Deputy Communications Director of Governor-elect McAuliffe’s transition team and previously as Deputy Press Secretary of the McAuliffe for Governor campaign. Prior to that, Thomas served as Special Assistant to the Administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Thomas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Communication and Public Service.


Kelsey Larus, Director of Scheduling and Advance

Kelsey Larus, a Richmond native, joins the McAuliffe administration after several positions with President Barack Obama where she worked on the President’s campaigns, in the White House, both Inaugurals and was the Director of Housing for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte.  Before joining the Obama team she was in event management for nearly 10 years and is a Certified Protocol and Etiquette Consultant by the Protocol School of Washington. She is a graduate of Sweet Briar College and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.


Elizabeth Natonski, Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance  

Elizabeth Natonski served as the scheduler for Governor-elect McAuliffe’s transition team. Prior to joining the administration, Natonski served as Political Assistant to the Political Director of the McAuliffe for Governor campaign. Natonski attended John Carroll University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.


Secretariat of the Commonwealth 

Kelly Thomasson Mercer, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth

Kelly Thomasson Mercer previously served as Projects Director for the Office of Senator Mark R. Warner.  Before working on Capitol Hill, she served in various capacities for Senator Warner, including Director of Scheduling for then-Governor Mark Warner. Thomasson Mercer is a native of Richmond and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives in Ashland with her husband, Clark, and two children.


Secretariat of Health and Human Resources 

Suzanne Schnell Gore, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources

Suzanne Schnell Gore previously served as the Director of Policy and Research and a Senior Executive Advisor at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) where she played a leading role in making Virginia’s Medicaid program more cost effective and responsive to the Virginians it serves. She served previously as a Policy and Research Manager and an Integrated Care and Health Services Manager at DMAS, and as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources in the administration of Governor Mark Warner. Suzanne holds a law degree from George Mason University, a Masters of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelors of Science in Commerce from the University of Virginia.


Secretariat of Natural Resources 

Evan Feinman, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources

Evan Feinman served as the Deputy Policy Director on Governor-elect McAuliffe’s transition team and previously as the Policy Director of McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign. Feinman graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Affairs and holds a degree from the Washington and Lee University School of Law.


Secretariat of Transportation 

Nicholas Donohue, Deputy Secretary of Transportation

Nicholas Donohue served previously as Policy and Legislative Director for the Transportation for American Campaign. Before that he served as Assistant Secretary of Transportation and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation in the administration of Governor Tim Kaine. Nicholas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and Geography from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Grindly Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Transportation

Grindly Johnson previously served as the Chief of Administration at the Virginia Department of Transportation, where she directed and oversaw all administrative functions for the third largest transportation agency in the nation. She served previously as the agency’s Chief of Equal Business and Employee Opportunity, as well as in a number of private sector positions as an accountant, financial analyst and community relations consultant. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting from Norfolk State University.


Executive Mansion 

George Bishop IV, Executive Director of the Mansion

George has spent 30 years working in the legislative branch of government, almost entirely for the Virginia House of Delegates, where he has served under 5 House Speakers and 3 House Clerks.  In his role as Deputy Clerk for Administrative and Support Services for the House, a non-partisan position that he held for more than 20 years, George was responsible for managing various functions for the 100-member body, including information technology, human resources, procurement and logistics, and facilities.  He worked very closely with the Virginia State Capitol Restoration and Expansion Project from 2003 until its completion in 2007. He was elected Associate Vice President of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries in 2010, the oldest legislative staff section in the National Conference of State Legislatures.  He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he received a B.A. in English in 1985. George is an avid tennis player and lives in Richmond his wife, Trish, and their 9-year-old son, Will.



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