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U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments

WASHINGTON, DC | The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C.


Georgette Furukawa has been appointed Chief of Staff for the Agricultural Marketing Service

Most recently, Georgette A. Furukawa served at the White House as an Advisor to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) team in the Office of the Chief of Staff where she managed domestic and foreign policy and stakeholder engagement on a variety of issues such as economic development and equity and lead interagency matrix management of subject matter experts and political leadership for priority initiatives of the Administration. Before that, she served as Director of Public Engagement at the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council overseeing congressional, federal, state, local, and external engagement. Furukawa brings over 20 years of demonstrated success in business, government, and non-profit sectors. She has also held senior roles at Aestival Strategies, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Office of Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama Administration, The U.S.-Japan Council, and Sony. Furukawa has also served in the U.S. House of Representatives for former Congressman Neil Abercrombie and the State of Hawaiʻi for former Lieutenant Governor Mazie K. Hirono. She is the first of two children of immigrants and the first American-born child in her family. Furukawa is from Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.


Jayme Holliday has been appointed Senior Advisor for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services


Previously, Jayme Holliday worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, her experience spanning several roles, most recently as Senior Policy Advisor for Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI). In this role, she managed the Congressman's policy work on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition in the 21st Century to include food and agriculture policy, early and higher education, and workforce development. Before, Holliday served as Professional Staff for the Education and Labor Committee under Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott's leadership, where she worked on the child nutrition and school meals programs, and programs under the Older Americans Act. Holliday has also served as Legislative Director for Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Dwight Evans (D-PA). Prior to her work in Congress, Holliday was a Government Affairs Coordinator for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. She also served as a Legislative Analyst for USDA’s Office of Congressional Relations and as Confidential Assistant for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs under the Obama-Biden Administration. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.


Sarah Dietch has been appointed Chief of Staff for Rural Development


Sarah Dietch comes to USDA from the United States Peace Corps, where she served as Director of Peace Corps Response. In this role, she led efforts to reimagine Peace Corps service developing policy, implementing programming and securing resources to provide short-term, high-impact service opportunities for Americans to serve as Peace Corps Response Volunteers and Virtual Service Pilot Participants. During her tenure, Sarah also led the second-ever domestic deployment of Peace Corps Volunteers in support of Community Vaccination Centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, Dietch was a Peace Corps Individual and Organizational Development Volunteer in Telavi, Georgia, where she developed the Kakheti Media Center’s strategic vision for civic engagement activities. Dietch has also held senior roles at USDA’s Rural Development, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Office of Legislative Affairs, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Legislative Affairs. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Simpson College and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.


Betsy Dirksen Londrigan has been appointed Administrator for the Rural Business Cooperative-Service


Betsy Dirksen Londrigan previously served as USDA’s Rural Development State Director for Illinois since January 2022, and will take on this new role in mid-January upon the departure of Dr. Karama Neal, who is departing USDA and returning to Arkansas. Dirksen Londrigan has over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, working with community, regional, and state leaders to effect positive change. Dirksen Londrigan is the Lead for the Illinois Basin Rapid Response Team for the Interagency Working Group (IWG) for Energy Communities. She is a lifelong resident of Springfield, Illinois, and is proud that her family members still own and operate the Centennial farm in Central Illinois where her grandmother was raised. Dirksen Londrigan graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is a former Director at the University of Illinois Springfield.


Kevin Shea has been named Senior Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Secretary


Since 2013, Kevin Shea has served as the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), where he led USDA’s efforts to protect the health, safety and value of American agriculture and wildlife. He has over 40 years of experience at APHIS and has played a key role in several USDA transitions, including most recently as Acting Deputy Secretary from February 28 to July 17, 2023. President Biden appointed him as Acting Secretary of Agriculture from January 20 to February 24, 2021. Shea also was the USDA Agency Transition Director in 2016 and as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs for much of 2017. Before becoming the APHIS Administrator, Shea served as the Associate Administrator from 2004 to 2012, the Deputy Administrator for Policy and Program Development from 2000 to 2004, and Director of Budget and Accounting from 1992 to 2000. Shea is a graduate of the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law.


Dr. Michael Watson has been named Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Dr. Michael Watson has been the Associate Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) since 2018. In this role, he has worked with the Administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the agency in support of the mission to protect American agriculture. He has served as Acting Administrator on several occasions, including most recently when Administrator Kevin Shea was appointed Acting Deputy Secretary in February 2023. Prior to joining the Administrator’s office, Dr. Watson served as the Associate Deputy Administrator for the Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services (MRPBS), where he also spent time as the Director of the Human Resources Division. Dr. Watson has also served in various roles with APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services and Plant Protection and Quarantine. While most of his career has been spent at USDA, Dr. Watson also has experience working at other federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. He received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Maryland, College Park and his doctorate in plant pathology from the University of California, Davis.


Promotions


In Rural Development, Jimmy Dahman has been promoted from Acting Chief of Staff for Rural Development to Senior Advisor for Communications and External Engagement. Dahman has supported USDA’s Rural Development since July 2021.


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