Representative Barney Frank's chief of staff is joining the Obama administration, the White House announced this afternoon.
Peter Kovar, a veteran Capitol Hill aide, is being nominated as assistant secretary for Congressional and intergovernmental affairs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He worked on Frank's 1982 reelection campaign and subsequently joined the Massachusetts Democrat's Washington office as a junior staffer. He later worked for Senator John F. Kerry, then returned to Frank’s office, where he has been chief of staff since 1991.
President Obama said he also plans to nominate Brian Kennedy as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Labor; Dana Gresham as Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs in the Department of Transportation; and Sherburne Abbott as Associate Director of Environment, Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“These individuals have not only shown talent and expertise in their respective fields, but have also proven their commitment to public service. I know that they will serve their fellow Americans well during these challenging times,” Obama said in a statement.
Their mini-biographies, as provided by the White House, are below:
Brian Kennedy, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Labor
Kennedy has spent many years on Capitol Hill working on labor and employment issues. He is currently General Counsel to Chairman George Miller of the House Education and Labor Committee. His House experience also includes his time as Labor Coordinator and Chief Labor Counsel to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. In the Senate, Kennedy worked for Senator Paul Simon on the Committee on Labor and Human Resources as Subcommittee Chief Counsel as well as Staff Director. He also worked in Sen. Harry Reid’s office as General Counsel from 1987-1989. From 1999 through 2000, he served the Clinton Administration in the National Economic Council as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Kennedy also worked at the U.S. Department of Labor as the Deputy National Director of the Job Corps program. He received a B.S. in Political Science from James Madison University, where he graduated summa cum laude and received the Outstanding Student in Political Science award. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia, and is admitted to practice law in DC and VA. Kennedy lives in Fairfax, VA, with his wife Elizabeth and their two daughters, Nicole and Samantha.
Dana Gresham, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs, Department of Transportation
Gresham served as the Chief of Staff for the Office of Representative Artur Davis from 2003 to November 2008. He was the lead staffer for Representative Davis’ participation with the Congressional Black Caucus and helped guide overall legislative and political direction for the New Democrat Coalition. Gresham was the primary policy and political advisor to Congressman Davis on the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives. Before that he worked as the legislative director for the Office of Representative Bud Cramer where he had the opportunity to work with the Blue Dog Coalition and various Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee including the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. He also staffed Representative Cramer on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Gresham has over 14 years of experience working on Capitol Hill and earned his bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1994.
Peter Kovar, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Several years after graduating from the University of Rochester (NY) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Kovar worked on the first reelection campaign of U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1982, and subsequently joined Frank’s Washington office as a junior staffer. He later worked for U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) when he was first elected, and then returned to Frank’s office as a legislative assistant. He became Frank’s Chief of Staff in 1991, and has served in that capacity since then. During his 26 tenure on Capitol Hill, Kovar has worked on virtually every issue that comes before Congress, having specialized at various points in his career on such diverse issues as immigration policy, Medicare reimbursement regulations, environmental protection, marine fisheries, transportation projects, government ethics, and economic development in Massachusetts and the communities Frank represents. He has also played a key role for the last six years in coordinating the interaction between Representative Frank’s Congressional office and the work of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal housing policy. Frank became the Senior Minority Member on the Financial Services Committee in 2003, and has chaired the committee since January 2007. As Chief of Staff, in addition to overall supervision of Congressman Frank’s Washington office, Kovar plays a central role in developing and implementing much of Frank’s legislative agenda, as well as coordinating response and outreach to constituents. He is a key adviser on media and political matters. Kovar was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Newton, MA. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with his wife Paula Kowalczuk, a political consultant, and their two teenage children.
Sherburne “Shere” Abbott, Nominee for Associate Director of Environment, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Abbott is a faculty member of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin and serves as the Director of the Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Previously she served as Chief International Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general science organization in the world, where she was responsible for the International Office, and where she established and directed the Center for Science, Innovation and Sustainable Development. Prior to this appointment she consulted on environmental science and sustainable development for private foundations, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, and other non-governmental organizations. Until 2001, she worked at the National Academies’ National Research Council over a 17-year period, serving in several capacities--Executive Director of the Board on Sustainable Development, where she directed the Sustainability Transition Study and the Global Change Research Program; director of international organization programs for the Office of International Affairs; and Director of the Polar Research Board. She also served as Assistant Scientific Program Director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, an independent federal agency, where she managed the research program and developed a model of environmental research for monitoring human impacts in Antarctica. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Goucher College and her Master’s Degree in environmental science and natural resource policy from Yale University, where she was a Dodge Fellow in Human - Animal Ecology.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.