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USDA announces a number of appointments

The appointments of Brian Baenig as deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs and Bobbi Jeanquart as a deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations top a series of personnel changes at the Agriculture Department, according to sources in the USDA Office of White House Liaison.

Baenig, who succeeds John Ferrell, has been serving as a senior adviser in marketing and regulatory programs since joining USDA earlier this year. Before that, he was the deputy staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Jeanquart has been chief of staff to Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie Reed. Before her appointment in July 2009, she was executive director of the National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils. She also served 12 years on the staff of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who was then the ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Other USDA appointments:
* Oscar Gonzales will become deputy assistant secretary for administration. Since joining USDA in June 2009, Gonzales has served as deputy director of intergovernmental affairs and most recently was the acting deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations. He previously served as associate director of the UFW Foundation in Los Angeles, and as the California director for the National Hispanic Environmental Council, where he worked on federal legislation to protect California’s unprotected wilderness and wild rivers.
* Greg Diephouse will become the new chief of staff to Assistant Secretary for Administration Reed. Diephouse has been the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat, which handles Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s correspondence. Diephouse joined USDA in June 2009 as a confidential assistant to Reed and helped him reorganize departmental management and establish the Office of Advocacy and Outreach.
* James Gore, a special assistant to Reed, will begin a detail as acting director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat. In his time working for Reed, Gore has handled a number of departmental initiatives, including outreach to poverty communities, homeland security management, civil rights implementation, process improvements, budget analysis and strategy, and the project to promote a diverse USDA workforce and deliver of services without discrimination, USDA sources said.
* Erin Hannigan will become the new deputy director for intergovernmental affairs in the Office of Congressional Relations. Hannigan will serve as one of USDA’s primary liaisons to state and local governments, and will oversee new public outreach efforts in coordination with the White House Office of Public Engagement, sources said.
* Sylvia Bolivar will become a senior adviser to Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager and will implement rural development’s regulatory reform initiatives. Bolivar is former chief of staff at Rural Housing Services, where she worked on outreach and creating new home-ownership opportunities for impoverished counties and the rural settlements along the U.S.-Mexican border known as colonias.