Gov.-elect Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect Henderson announce key appointments

Governor Spencer Cox. File photo: Video screen grab.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 2, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect Deidre Henderson have announced another round of key appointments to join their administration after they take the oath of office in January.

Brittney Cummins, who has served as a member of the Utah State Board of Education since 2014, will join as senior advisor for education, with a particular focus on equity in educational opportunity, said a news release from the Office of the Lt. Governor.

Former Utah House Rep. Sophia DiCaro, who is currently chief compliance officer for The Cynosure Group and previously worked as deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will serve as senior advisor and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

Sen. Dan Hemmert has been nominated to become director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the news release said. Hemmert, a local businessman who has represented Senate District 14 since 2016 and currently serves as senate minority whip, will step down from those positions if his appointment is approved by the Senate.

In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Stephen Lisonbee has been appointed senior advisor of rural affairs, fulfilling a campaign promise to raise the profile of rural issues within the Cox administration. In addition to his new role, Lisonbee will retain his current position as assistant vice president of the Office of Regional Services at Southern Utah University and continue to live in La Verkin.

Jen Robison, who most recently was an advisor for Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, will serve as Henderson’s chief of staff.

In addition, four familiar faces in Gov. Gary Herbert’s office will move to new assignments in the Cox administration.

Pamela Atkinson, a long-time community advocate for the homeless and refugees who has been an advisor to the past three governors, will stay on as an advisor to Cox.

Gordon Larsen, who has served as director of federal affairs and director of policy for  Herbert, has been appointed as Cox’s senior advisor for federal affairs. He will also continue to play an active role in Utah’s COVID-19 response.

Mike Mower, currently deputy chief of Herbert, will become senior advisor of community outreach and intergovernmental affairs and will oversee boards and commissions, constituent services, relations with counties, cities and towns, nonprofits, faith groups, and other grassroots entities.

Karen Peterson, who is currently education advisor for Herbert, will become legislative liaison and will work closely with Henderson, who will lead the administration’s legislative efforts.

“We’ve recruited some of the best and brightest Utahns to join us as we strengthen our schools, our rural towns and the overall quality of life here in Utah,” Cox said. “We welcome these fine individuals to public service and we’re grateful to have them on the team.”

More staff and cabinet appointments are forthcoming. More than 100 community leaders have signed on to review and refine Cox’s policy priorities as part of the transition effort, the news release said. In addition, after issuing a call to public service, more than 250 people have submitted resumes for positions in the incoming administration. Those seeking employment opportunities and interested in submitting ideas can find more information here.

Cox and Henderson, along with other statewide elected officials, will be formally sworn in on Inauguration Day, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.


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