Governor Bullock Announces Cabinet Directors and Policy Staff

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Governor Bullock Announces Cabinet Directors and Policy Staff

Monday, January 9, 2017/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced the following appointments to his Cabinet:

  • Martha Williams as Director of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks;
  • Ben Thomas as the Director of the Department of Agriculture;
  • Ken Fichtler as the Chief Business Development Officer;
  • Patrick Holmes as the Governor’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor;
  • Tim Baker appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council;
  • Jennifer Anders reappointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council;
  • Jessica Rhoades as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor;
  • Ronja Abel as the Governor’s Director of Communications

“Montanans have granted me, my Cabinet and my staff an incredible responsibility and opportunity – the ability to make Montana an even better place to live, work, build a business, get a quality education, enjoy our public lands, and raise a family. I look forward to meeting this opportunity with passion, creativity, compassion and humility and I’m confident that the folks by my side will serve Montanans well,” said Bullock.

Martha Williams as Director of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks:

Governor Bullock has selected Martha Williams to serve as the Director of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Martha has been serving as an Assistant Professor of Law and Co-director of the Land Use and Natural Resources Clinic at the University of Montana.  During her tenure at the University, she focused on natural resource law, public land and resources law, and wildlife law.  Previous to that, she served as the Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife at the U.S. Department of Interior. She was legal counsel for the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks from 1998-2011.

Ben Thomas as the Director of the Department of Agriculture:

Governor Bullock has selected Ben Thomas to serve as the Director of the Department of Agriculture.  Ben has served in several departments within the US Department of Agriculture throughout his career most recently serving as the Deputy Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  He received his undergraduate degree from Austin College and went on to earn a Juris Doctorate at Washington University School of Law and a Masters of Laws from the University of Arkansas School of Law in food and agricultural law. He served as legislative aide and counsel for Senator Max Baucus, where he played a lead role in developing the Farm Bill.  Ben was raised on his family’s farm which is still in production today.

Ken Fichtler as the Chief Business Development Officer which directs the Governor’s Office of Economic Development:

Governor Bullock has selected Ken Fichtler as the Chief Business Development Officer which directs the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  Ken has spent his career in high-tech business management and marketing. He is also an entrepreneur and business investor, having started Montana companies like Gecko8 Studios and Fermion Technologies as well as co-founding the first and largest TEDx event in the state, TEDxBozeman.  Most recently he has served as the Senior Marketing Specialist for Lattice Materials.  Ken is a graduate of the Montana State University School of Business.

Patrick Holmes as the Governor’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor:

Governor Bullock has appointed Patrick Holmes to serve as his Natural Resource Policy Advisor.  Patrick most recently served as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.  During his tenure at the Department of Agriculture, he was trusted to provide counsel to the Secretary of Agriculture on issues related to forest restoration, innovative wood products, working lands conservation, wildland fire, and others affecting the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.  He holds a Masters of Environmental Management from Yale University and a Bachelors of Arts in Natural Resources Management and Policy.

Tim Baker appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council:

Governor Bullock has appointed Tim Baker to serve on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.  For the last four years Tim has served as Governor Bullock’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor. In that capacity he has worked on issues ranging from energy development and water use, to wildlife, state lands, and mining. He will continue to advise the governor on energy policy. Tim was born in Detroit, Michigan and after graduating from the University of Michigan, he moved west to attend law school at the University of Montana. He worked for the Montana Public Service Commission as a staff attorney and Chief Counsel, and then with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, where he focused on air quality. After leaving state government he was Executive Director of the Montana Wilderness Association, and was working for Montana Trout Unlimited when Governor Bullock asked him to return to public service.

Jennifer Anders reappointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council;

Governor Bullock has reappointed Jennifer Anders to serve on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.  She was first appointed to the council in 2013 by Governor Bullock.  Prior to her appointment, she represented the State of Montana with the Attorney General’s office in civil and criminal cases on land use, water law, resource development issues.  Jennifer holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California and a law degree from the University of Montana. 

Jessica Rhoades as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor:

Governor Bollock has appointed Jessica Rhoades to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Tara Veazey as his Health Policy Advisor.  Jess has 16 years of experience in health care and public policy. Prior to her appointment, she was the Policy Director for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, where she oversaw the work of the Governor’s Council on Health Care Innovation which resulted in Montana being selected to pioneer a public-private partnership for the largest primary care reform initiative of its kind in the U.S.  She previously served as health policy advisor for Governor Brian Schweitzer and before that worked for the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.  She was northwest region public affairs director for a national health care provider, covering 14 states including Montana.

Ronja Abel as the Governor’s Director of Communications:

Governor Bullock has appointed Ronja Abel to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Tim Crowe as his Director of Communications. Ronja has served as Governor Bullock's Deputy Communications Director for the past year and previously, Ronja served as Communications Director for the Montana Department of Commerce and as Program Specialist for the Montana Small Business Development Center Network.

Until the new appointees are in place and the current vacancies are filled, Doug Mitchell will serve as Interim Director of Commerce, Kim Mangold will serve as Interim Director of Agriculture, and Paul Sihler will serve as Interim Director of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.                                                   

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