Written by Lora Strum, Contributing Writer, PoliticsPA
Governor-elect Tom Wolf formally announced today the appointments to his Steering Committee. The Committee will work closely with the previously selected Transition Team leadership to oversee state agencies, commissions, departments, and functions.
“As we begin to understand the complexity of the fiscal crisis my administration will face, it is important that my Transition Team move forward,” said Governor-elect Tom Wolf. “Today’s announcement, which rounds out my steering committee, continues that momentum, and I look forward to working with these individuals to address the steep fiscal and economic challenges ahead.”
The biographies of each member of the Steering Committee are included below:
Neal Bisno is President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest union of nurses and healthcare workers. He has helped thousands of healthcare workers improve their lives and has been a strong advocate for access to quality, affordable care for all Pennsylvanians. Neal is an International Vice President of SEIU and a Vice President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. He is a Trustee of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s Training and Education and Health and Welfare Funds and of the Pennsylvania Employee Benefits Trust Fund; a member of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council; co-chaired the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers; and served on Governor Rendell’s 2010 Healthcare Reform Implementation Advisory Commission. Neal lives in Pittsburgh with his partner Lisa Frank and their son, Sam.
David Barasch has over 30 years of public service experience, including time as U.S. Attorney in Harrisburg. Barasch was Pennsylvania’s Consumer Advocate in the 1980s and was also the lead counsel in cases involving the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. From 1990 to 1993, Barasch served as Special Assistant to Governor Robert P. Casey, Sr. Following his time with Governor Casey, Barasch served as U.S. Attorney until 2001, where he led federal prosecutions and multimillion dollar settlements. Barasch also served as Executive Deputy Secretary under then-Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf. In addition, Barasch has spent time practicing law in the private sector.
Aradhna Oliphant is the President and CEO of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. Prior to joining Leadership Pittsburgh in December 2004, Aradhna served as the Program Officer of The Forbes Funds, a supporting organization of The Pittsburgh Foundation. Aradhna was the Executive Director of The Children’s Festival Chorus (CFC) of Pittsburgh from 2000-2003. Before moving to Pittsburgh in 1999, Aradhna led an arts organization in Princeton, New Jersey, and taught as an adjunct professor of management and psychology at both Rider University and the College of New Jersey.
Mark Nordenberg joined the faculty of the University Pittsburgh’s School of Law in 1977, eventually serving as Dean and Interim Provost of the university. In 1995, he was elected Interim Chancellor by the university’s board of trustees, and in 1996, he was elected Chancellor. Nordenberg served as Chancellor for 19 years. During his tenure, the university experienced tremendous growth with both annual applications and overall enrollments increased.
Phyllis Mundy is currently serving her 12th term as state Representative for the 120th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Mundy serves as Democratic Chair of the House Finance Committee and co-chairs the House and Senate Early Childhood Education Caucus. She has been honored with numerous awards for her achievements, including the 2014 VOICE for Children Distinguished Career Award and the 2013 Children’s Champion Award from the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission. Mundy is a graduate of Kingston High School and Bloomsburg State College.
Since 2010, Robert Brooks has served as the Mayor of Murrysville in Westmoreland County, and he currently holds a position on the Board of Trustees at Franklin & Marshall College. Brooks also sits on the NASDAQ Nominating Committee and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Planning Commission. From 1999 to 2004, Brooks was the Executive Vice President of Wabtec, where he had an extensive career. Brooks has thorough knowledge of the rail and financial industries.
Dr. Julie E. Wollman
Dr. Julie E. Wollman became the 17th President of Edinboro University in June 2012, and has an extensive background in teaching, research, and administration. Wollman was the first woman to be named President of Edinboro University. She came to Edinboro from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs. Prior to that position, she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University and Dean of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College. Wollman is also active in her community, where she serves on the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership Board of Directors, the Hamot Health Foundation Board of Corporators, the United Way Erie Board of Directors, as well as chairs the United Way’s Volunteer Engagement Cabinet.
Shanin Specter is a partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Kline and Specter, P.C. Specter received a B.A. with honors in Political Science from Haverford College in 1980, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, and an LL.M. with First Honors from Cambridge University in 1984. Mr. Specter has been named one of the nation’s best lawyers in addition to being ranked among the Top 10 lawyers in Pennsylvania by various independent attorney rating services. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, described by The Washington Post as “a select group of 100 of the nation’s most celebrated trial lawyers.”
Carl G. Cooper
Carl G. Cooper is widely recognized as one of the nation’s first management-level Chief Diversity Officers at a major law firm from his time at K&L Gates law firm. After leaving K&L Gates, Cooper launched a Pittsburgh-based diversity consulting firm in 2007. As a diversity consultant, Cooper works with law firms to design and implement an agenda that promotes, achieves, and maintains a diverse workplace. Cooper received his B.S. degree with a major in Business Administration from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and completed his law degree at the Howard University School of Law.
Nilda Iris Ruiz
Nilda Iris Ruiz is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc. (APM). From October 1999 to March 2005, Ms. Ruiz was the Senior Community Development Director for the East Coast at National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national constituency-based Hispanic organization. Ruiz also has been honored with a number of distinguished awards, including the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2009 Women of Distinction Award; Girls Inc. 2008 Strong, Smart and Bold Award; El Sol Latino Newspaper’s 2008 Crystal Award; and the 2008 Hispanic Choice Award for Favorite Community Advocate. Ruiz has an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a Masters in Business Administration from Eastern College.
Joseph Meade is the Director of Government and External Affairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Prior to his current role, Meade served as the museum’s Director of Government Relations. Before joining the museum, Meade served as the Director of Government and Public Relations for the School District of Philadelphia; worked for two years as legislative director for the Honorable Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondel Reynolds Brown; and served as Chairman of The Five Guys Political Action Committee. Meade is a graduate of La Salle College High School, West Chester University, and received his Master of Public Policy and Administration from Widener University.