Cast of Characters
Transportation and Education Depts. Get Key Nominees
By Philip Rucker
President Obama continued to fill top administration jobs today, tapping nominees to head the Census Bureau and key divisions of the Education and Transportation departments.
Victor M. Mendez, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, is Obama's pick for administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. Mendez worked under former governor Janet Napolitano before she became Obama's homeland security secretary. In Arizona, Mendez helped implement the state's multi-billion dollar freeway system and gained extensive experience in transportation funding, technology, infrastructure, research and planning.
Joining Mendez at the Transportation Department will be Peter H. Appel, Obama's nominee for administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. A principal with the global management consulting firm of A.T. Kearney, Inc., Appel has over 20 years of experience in transportation and infrastructure projects. He has helped organizations in the railroad, trucking, airline and ocean shipping industries, and he previously served as a top aide at the Federal Aviation Administration and at Amtrak.
At the Education Department, meanwhile, John Q. Easton is the nominee for director of the Institute of Education Sciences. Like Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Easton hails from Chicago, where he currently serves as executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. The consortium has been integral to reform efforts at Chicago Public Schools, where Easton previously held a number of top positions.
Earlier today, news broke that Obama would nominate Robert M. Groves, director of the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, as director of the Census Bureau in the Department of Commerce.
"At this critical time for our nation, I am grateful that these individuals will join my team as we take on the challenges American families are facing today," Obama said in a statement. "I know that their skill, dedication and commitment to serving the American people will help us move our agenda for the future forward."
Here are the full biographies of the four nominees, as provided by the White House:
Robert M. Groves, Nominee for Director of the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce
Robert M. Groves is Director of the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Research Professor at its Institute for Social Research, and Research Professor at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, at the University of Maryland. From 1990-1992 Groves was an Associate Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, on loan from University of Michigan. From 1992-2001 he was the associate director, then director of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, a graduate program sponsored by the US Federal statistical system. He is the author of seven books and scores of scientific articles concerning the improvement of surveys. He is a member of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Board of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Census Bureau. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, a National Associate of the National Academies, National Research Council, former President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), former Chair of the Survey Research Methods Section of the American Statistical Association. Groves was awarded AAPOR Innovator Award in 2000 and in 2001 he was awarded the distinguished achievement award, the AAPOR award, by the association. He was given the 2008 Fellow award by the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research. In 2008, he was given the Julius Shiskin Award for unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics. Groves has an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Victor M. Mendez, Nominee for Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation
Victor M. Mendez was a member of former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano's Cabinet as the Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. He has extensive experience in transportation including innovations in the areas of funding and financing, technology, infrastructure, research, planning and internal operations. Mendez has served as a past President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and in 2008 he was selected as Leader of the Year in Public Policy in Transportation by the Arizona Capitol Times. Previously, Mendez was selected as the Deputy State Engineer to lead the implementation of the Phoenix area's multi-billion dollar freeway system. Mendez earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Peter H. Appel, Nominee for Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Department of Transportation
Peter H. Appel is a Principal with the global management consulting firm of A.T. Kearney, Inc. He has led business improvement initiatives for clients in the private and public sectors, with a focus on Transportation and Infrastructure. Appel has over 20 years of experience in Transportation, and has supported organizations in the railroad, trucking, airline, and ocean shipping industries with growth strategy, supply chain improvement, post-merger integration, public-private partnerships, and other key business and policy issues. Previously, Appel served as the Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and as Assistant Director for Pricing and Yield Management at Amtrak. Appel earned his bachelor's degree from Brandeis University in Economics and Computer Science with Highest Honors, and received his Master of Science in Transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
John Q. Easton, Nominee for Director, Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education
John Q. Easton currently serves as Executive Director of The Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) at The University of Chicago. CCSR conducts research to inform and assess policy and practice in the Chicago Public Schools and expand communication among researchers, policy makers and practitioners as they search for solutions to the problems of school reform. Over the years, Easton has held a variety of positions at Chicago Public Schools, including Advisor and Director of the Department of Research and Evaluation and Director of the Department of Research, Analysis and Assessment. Easton has also served as the Director of Monitoring and Research at the Chicago Panel on School Policy, and the Director of Research at the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning at City Colleges of Chicago. Easton earned his Bachelor of Arts from Hobart College, a Master of Science from Western Washington University and a Ph.D. from The University of Chicago. Easton has taught at universities across the country and has authored and co-authored several books and papers in the field, including Charting Chicago school reform: Democratic localism as a lever for Change, What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools and recently, From High School to the Future: The Pathway to 20.
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