The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Cast of Characters

Obama Taps Mabus for Navy Secretary

By Philip Rucker
President Obama will nominate former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus to be secretary of the Navy and has tapped six other officials for key positions at the Department of Defense and elsewhere in his administration, the White House announced this afternoon.

Mabus, 60, is a Democrat who served as governor from 1988 to 1992 and was President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A Democrat, Mabus endorsed Obama before the 2008 primary season and campaigned extensively on his behalf. Mabus has spent the last several years in business, serving as chairman and chief executive of Foamex International Inc. and helping lead the manufacturer out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi, Mabus served in the Naval ROTC, and he later joined the Navy as a surface warfare officer on the Rhode Island-based USS Little Rock. If confirmed by the Senate, Mabus would become the Navy's civilian leader.

Obama also announced his intent to nominate several other officials to top administration posts. Donad Remy, a lawyer who served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton Administration, will become general counsel of the Army. Jose D. Riojas, a 30-year veteran of the military who has served in Asia and around the world, is Obama's nominee for assistant secretary for operations, security and preparedness at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Obama is nominating J. Randolph Babbitt, a partner at the aviation consultancy of Oliver Wyman, as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. Babbitt began his career as a pilot for Eastern Airlines and flew for more than 25 years. At the Department of Commerce, meanwhile, Lawrence E. Strickling was announced as Obama's nominee for assistant secretary for communications and information. Strickling coordinated technology and telecommunications policy for Obama's campaign and previously was chief regulatory and chief compliance officer at Broadwing Communications.

John Trasviña, a veteran of the Clinton Administration with decades of experience in civil rights and immigration policy who most recently was president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was announced as Obama's nominee for assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lastly, at the Department of Energy, Cathy Zoi is Obama's pick for assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Zoi, an environmental adviser in the Clinton White House, is the founding chief executive of the Alliance for Climate Protection, the organization established and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

"At this critical moment in our nation's history, I am grateful that these exceptional public servants have chosen to help my administration bring the change our country needs today," Obama said.

Below are the nominees' full biographies, provided by the White House:

Ray Mabus, Nominee for Secretary of the Navy, Department of Defense
Ray Mabus has served as Governor of Mississippi, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Chairman and CEO of Foamex, a large manufacturing company. As the youngest governor of Mississippi in more than 100 years at the time of his election, he stressed education and job creation. He passed B.E.S.T. (Better Education for Success Tomorrow), one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America and was named one or Fortune Magazine's top ten education governors. During his tenure as Ambassador, a crisis with Iraq was successfully deterred and Saudi Arabia officially abandoned the boycott of United States businesses that trade with Israel. He was chosen CEO of Foamex to help lead it out of bankruptcy. Less than nine months after his appointment, Foamex successfully emerged from Chapter 11. Governor Mabus has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army's Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award from the King Center in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Mississippi Association of Educators' Friend of Education Award.

Donald Remy, Nominee for General Counsel of the Army, Department of Defense
Donald Remy is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins. From 1997-2000, Remy served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he handled numerous cases, including those arising out of the events at Waco and Ruby Ridge. In addition to Mr. Remy's practice experience, he currently serves in a management role at the firm as a member of the Global Training and Career Enhancement Committee. During his legal career, Remy also served as Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Assistant to the General Counsel for the Department of the Army. Remy has published, lectured and testified before Congress on legal topics relating to Torts, Constitutional Law, Employment Law, Diversity, Government Contracts, Litigation and Compliance. In 2005, Mr. Remy was recognized by Black Enterprise as one of America's most powerful executives under 40.

J. Randolph Babbitt, Nominee for Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
J. Randolph Babbitt, known as Randy, is a partner in the worldwide aviation consultancy of Oliver Wyman. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Eclat Consulting until they were acquired by Oliver Wyman in 2007. Babbitt is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of aviation safety and policy, and labor relations with almost 40 years of experience in the industry. Babbitt began his aviation career as a pilot for Eastern Airlines and flew for more than 25 years. He served as President and CEO for US ALPA, the world's largest professional organization of airline pilots. In 1993 he served as a Presidential appointee on the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry. In 2008 Babbitt was named by the Secretary of Transportation to an independent review team of aviation and safety experts tasked with evaluating and crafting recommendations to improve the FAA's implementation of the aviation safety system and its culture of safety. Babbitt attended both the University of Georgia and the University of Miami.

Jose D. Riojas, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness, Department of Veterans Affairs
Jose D. Riojas, began his military career after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 1976. He is also a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Army War College completing studies in National Security Strategy. His 30 year military career encompassed numerous and significant operational assignments throughout the world to include, Korea, Germany and Southwest Asia (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). His assignments include: service with the U.S. Department of State, service as the Army's representative on the Joint Requirements Oversight Panel, and Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff of the Army. He served in 5 different Army Divisions: the 2nd Infantry, 7th Infantry (Light), 2nd Armored, 25th Infantry (Light), and the 3rd Infantry (Mechanized). He commanded for over 10 years at the battery, battalion, division artillery and task force levels. His last military assignment was as the Commanding General of Joint Task Force North (JTF-N). The mission of JTF-N was to provide Department of Defense resources throughout the continental U.S. in support of law enforcement agencies so that they could more effectively interdict Transnational Threats including: terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, aliens from special interest countries and narco-terrorism. His responsibilities at UTEP include strategic initiatives in support of Homeland Security/Border Security, Homeland Defense and economic development. Riojas serves as the Director of the DHS Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration. He also serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Defense Systems Research, a DOD research center headquartered at UTEP. Additionally, Riojas serves as Chairman of the UTEP National Security Advisory Board, is a member of the Border Biomedical Research Center advisory committee, serves on the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and is serving, by appointment, on the Texas Governor's Emerging Technology Fund Advisory Committee.

John Trasviña, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development
John Trasviña has devoted his legal career to public service in civil rights and immigration policy. In the 1980s and 90s, he served as Chairman Paul Simon's General Counsel & Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Thereafter, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs in 1993. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Trasviña as Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices. As Special Counsel, he led the only federal government office devoted solely to immigrant workplace rights and was the highest ranking Latino attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. After returning to California, he taught immigration law at Stanford Law School. In 2006, he was named President & General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF). A native of San Francisco, Trasviña is a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School. In recent years, he was a member of the San Francisco Elections Commission, president of the Harvard Club of San Francisco, and a board member of the La Raza Lawyers Association, CORO of Northern California, Lowell High School Alumni Association, League of Women Voters and Pacific Coast Immigration Museum. He serves on the boards of the Latino Issues Forum and Campaign for College Opportunity and recently served as Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

Lawrence E. Strickling, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, Department of Commerce
Lawrence E. Strickling is a technology policy expert with more than two decades of experience in the public and private sectors. As Policy Coordinator for Obama for America, Strickling oversaw two dozen domestic policy committees and was responsible for technology and telecommunications issues. Prior to joining the campaign, Strickling was Chief Regulatory and Chief Compliance Officer at Broadwing Communications for three years. His private sector experience also includes serving in senior roles at Allegiance Telecom and CoreExpress, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Directors of Network Plus. In government, Strickling served at the Federal Communications Commission as Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau from 1998 to 2000. Prior to that, Strickling was Associate General Counsel and Chief of the FCC's Competition Division. During his tenure at the FCC, Strickling developed and enforced rules to foster competition and protect consumers in the telecommunications marketplace. Prior to joining the FCC, Strickling was Vice President, Public Policy at Ameritech. Before Ameritech, he was a litigation partner at the Chicago law firm of Kirkland & Ellis. Strickling earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in economics. He serves on the Board of Visitors at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago's Court Theatre, and on the Board of Directors of Music of the Baroque in Chicago.

Cathy Zoi, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy
In January 2007, Cathy Zoi joined the Alliance for Climate Protection as its founding CEO. Established and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore, the Alliance is a non-profit organization spearheading a multi-year, multimillion dollar effort aimed at persuading Americans of both the urgency and solvability of global warming. From 2003 until joining the Alliance, Zoi served as Group Executive Director at the Bayard Group. The firm, recently renamed Landis+Gyr Holdings, is a world leader in energy measurement technologies and systems, with operations in 30 countries and revenues in excess of $1.2 billion. Her work focused on the key role of smart metering to improving energy efficiency in markets in North America, Europe, India, China , Brazil and Australia. Prior to joining Bayard, Cathy was Assistant Director General of the New South Wales EPA in Sydney, Australia. She was also the founding CEO of the NSW Sustainable Energy Development Authority, a $50 million fund to commercialize greenhouse-friendly technology, from 1996-1999. Under her leadership, SEDA launched the world's first nationwide Green Power program (1997) and the world¹s largest solar-powered suburb (1998). Cathy has served on boards and advisory committees of a variety of companies in the clean technology sector. Cathy was Chief of Staff in the White House Office on Environmental Policy in the Clinton-Gore administration, where she managed the team working on environmental and energy issues (1993-95). She was also a manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where she pioneered the Energy Star Program. Ms. Zoi earned a B.S. in Geology from Duke University and an M.S. in Engineering from Dartmouth College.

Posted at 5:03 PM ET on Mar 27, 2009  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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Mabus, wow.. Notice they never showed his term of enlistment? He served TWO years in the Navy. Two whole years. No need to have someone who actually knows something about the Navy, I guess.

Posted by: pwhited | March 28, 2009 7:34 PM

Does the Obama "vetting" team have a CLUE what is about to happen??? Mabus????

Oh, well, yet another withdrawal under fire. Or, maybe we are just so used to the tax cheats and inept that it's just pointless. Who cares who the "Secretary of the Navy" is? What does he do, christen ships and give pointless speeches while signing off on whatever the Corporate Lobbyists tell him to do.

Obama is hopeless.

Posted by: gnpszul | March 28, 2009 10:47 AM

Throughout the campaign, Obama bashed the Clinton admin and Bush admin - but now is appointing officials from both administrations to HIS administration.
Typical of an inexperienced puppet.

Posted by: angie12106 | March 28, 2009 7:12 AM


Please end possible Army/DARPA involvement in microwave radiation ("directed energy") weapons use against "targeted" American citizens.

OR (if link is corrupted):

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 28, 2009 12:43 AM

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