Several noteworthy personnel changes have been announced at the Department in recent weeks:
Tom Strickland Departing
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Interior Chief of Staff Tom Strickland will leave Interior this month. Among his accomplishments over the last two years, Strickland helped develop President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative; led efforts to protect national parks, wildlife refuges and coastlines during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and oversaw Interior’s responsibilities to protect and recover threatened and endangered species.
Laura Daniel Davis Named Chief of Staff
Laura Daniel Davis will replace Strickland as Interior Chief of Staff. Davis has been serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Associate Deputy Secretary. Before joining Interior in January 2009, Davis worked as Deputy Chief of Staff for then-Representative Mark Udall. She also served in the Interior Department under Bruce Babbitt, and worked closely with Steptoe attorneys Tom Collier (former Interior Chief of Staff) and John Duffy (former Counselor to Secretary Babbitt).
To deal with other vacancies created by Strickland’s departure, Will Shafroth, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, will serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks until a new Assistant Secretary is confirmed. Matt Lee-Ashley, the Director of Communications for the Office of the Secretary will assume the duties of Deputy Chief of Staff.
Dan Ashe Nominated as FWS Director
Dan Ashe has been nominated by President Obama as the new Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Ashe will require Senate confirmation before assuming this new role. He has served as FWS Deputy Director since September 2009. Before becoming FWS Deputy Director, Ashe was Science Advisor to the FWS Director. He has also served as Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Ashe was also at FWS during the Clinton Administration, serving as Assistant Director for External Affairs. He was hired into that position by Steptoe’s Tom Collier, who was then Interior Chief of Staff.
Carol Browner to Leave White House
Carol Browner, the Obama Administration’s energy and environmental czar, will be leaving the White House. While not an Interior official, Browner’s take on energy and environmental issues has heavily shaped Interior’s policy on such matters since President Obama took office. The White House has been fairly quiet on the fate of its Office of Energy and Climate Change, although many speculate that energy issues will remain a top priority for the President.