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Governor-Elect Gretchen Whitmer Announces Key Cabinet Members, Executive Office Leadership

December 21, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer today announced key members of her cabinet, including state treasurer, budget director and the director of the Office of the State Employer, along with Executive Office leadership.

“We have assembled a highly-skilled and deeply experienced team ready to get to work moving Michigan forward, starting January 1,” said Governor-elect Whitmer. “Putting forth a budget reflective of the issues that matter most to Michigan residents will be one of my first and most important charges as Governor. This group brings the expertise that will be necessary to guide that process and a commitment to getting the job done right.”

Rachael Eubanks has been named to serve as state treasurer. Most recently, Eubanks was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Public Service Commission as a utility regulatory commissioner and was unanimously confirmed by the Michigan Senate Energy & Technology Committee. Prior to that role, Eubanks structured more than $25 billion in bond financings for public entities–primarily the state of Michigan, State Building Authority, Michigan Finance Authority and the Michigan Strategic Fund. Eubanks also served as point of contact for credit rating agencies on state credit matters for 10 years. Eubanks obtained her bachelor’s in economics from the University of Michigan.

“Rachael Eubanks has a clear commitment to public service and brings years of critical experience to this role,” Whitmer said. “She is also a fighter for the people of Michigan, leading an $185 million project in Detroit to install street lights throughout the city, improving quality of life for residents and reducing crime. As treasurer, I am confident she will continue to solve problems for the people of our state.”

Former state representative Chris Kolb will serve as budget director. Kolb is currently president of the Michigan Environmental Council and served as co-chair of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, which investigated the city’s drinking water crisis, found state-appointed emergency managers and the DEQ chiefly responsible, and provided recommendations to prevent similar disasters statewide. From 2001 to 2006, Kolb served in the State House of Representatives, spending two terms on the House Appropriations Committee. Kolb obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

“Chris Kolb has dedicated his career to public service and will bring his expertise from the legislature into the State Budget Office,” Whitmer said. “Chris has done critical work to protect Michigan’s environment and drinking water, a cause that will continue to be at the forefront for the duration of my administration. As budget director, I know Chris will continue to put the people of our state first, while serving as a sensible steward of taxpayer dollars.”

The Office of the State Employer will be headed by Liza Estlund Olson. Estlund Olson most recently served as executive director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 517M. Estlund Olson has also served as deputy director of the Workforce Development Agency, Direct Talent Strategies, and has held positions with the Bureau of Workforce Transformation; the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth; the Unemployment Insurance Agency; and the City of Lansing. Estlund Olson received her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University’s James Madison College, and is also a member of the Public Division Board for SEIU.

“Serving on the frontline of the important work that lies ahead, our state’s employees need leaders in Lansing who have their backs,” Whitmer said. “As director of the Office of the State Employer, Liza will make sure state employees have the support they need to get the job done and get it done right. There is no one better prepared for the role.”

Governor-elect Whitmer also named key leadership positions in her Executive Office today, including:

  • Chief of Staff – JoAnne Huls, chief of staff at Sterling Group.
  • Chief Strategist – Mark A. Burton, CEO of Burton Strategies, Inc. and chief of staff to then-Senate Democratic Leader Whitmer.
  • Chief Legal Counsel – Mark Totten, Associate professor at MSU College of Law and former prosecutor and attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Chief Compliance Officer – Corina Peña Andorfer, attorney and former chief compliance officer at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority..
  • Cabinet Secretary – Jay B. Rising, former state treasurer and retired executive vice president/chief financial officer of Detroit Medical Center.
  • Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II – Shaquila Myers, legislative director for Senate Minority Leader Ananich.
  • Communications Director – Zack Pohl, Whitmer for Governor communications director and former communications director at Michigan AFL-CIO.
  • Public Affairs Director – Jen Flood, government policy advisor at Dykema.
  • Community Affairs Director – Melanie Brown, director of public affairs and community engagement at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

“From day one, I’ve made it clear I intend to surround myself with individuals who are reflective of our state and encompass the broad range of skills needed to chart the path forward,” Whitmer said. “The team we have assembled to lead the Executive Office is a direct reflection of that commitment, and I am thrilled to hit the ground running with them on January 1.”