Pin this to your bulletin board: Who's Who in the new state administration

BY Mainebiz staff

TOP ROW L–R: Governor Janet Mills; Heather Johnson, Economic and Community Development; Kirsten Figueroa, Administrative and Financial Services; Jeanne Lambrew, Health and Human Services; Bruce Van Note, Transportation BOTTOM ROW L–R: Laura Fortman, Labor; John Rohde, Workers' Compensation Board; Pender Makin, Education; Jerry Reid, Environmental Protection; Judy Camuso, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Amanda Beal, Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Lawmakers begin confirmation hearings this week on nominees selected by Gov. Janet Mills to lead state agencies that oversee essential services that include education, transportation, health and human services and economic and community development.
The hearings will be conducted by legislative committees with jurisdiction over the respective departments and will be followed by formal confirmation votes by the Maine Senate in early February.
Here are the nominees whose hearings are slated for Tuesday:

  • Bruce Van Note, Maine Department of Transportation, 1 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Transportation.
  • Patrick Keliher, incumbent who’s been nominated to continue serving as commissioner of Department of Marine Resources, 1 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources.
  • Heather Johnson, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. 1 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business.
  • Kirsten Figueroa, Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs, 2:30 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.
Nominees whose hearings are slated for Wednesday:
  • Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, incumbent who’s been nominated to continue serving as commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, 9 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.
  • Judith Camuso, Department of Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife, 9 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
  • Laura Fortman, Department of Labor; 10 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing.
  • Jerry Reid, Department of Environmental Protection, 10 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
  • John Rohde, executive director of Maine Workers’ Compensation Board, 10 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing.
Nominees whose hearings are slated for Thursday:
  • Jeanne Lambrew, Department of Health and Human Services, 1 p.m.,
  • Anne Head, incumbent who’s been nominated to continue serving as commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, 1 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services
  • Pender Makin, Department of Education, 1 p.m., Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.
Nominees whose hearings are slated for Friday:
  • Michael Sauschuck, Department of Public Safety, 11 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice Committee.
  • Randall Liberty, Department of Corrections, 10 a.m., Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice Committee.
No date has been set yet for the confirmation hearing of Amanda Beal, who was nominated by Mills to be the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Given all the new faces with the changing of the gubernatorial guard, we've put together a guide to Gov. Janet Mills's incoming administration, notable for the high proportion of women.

Mills, 71, was born and raised in Farmington, the granddaughter of Aroostook County potato farmers and the daughter of a high-school English teacher. She graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the University of Maine School of Law. She first entered public service as an assistant attorney general, where she prosecuted homicides and other major crimes. She has served as Maine's attorney general for the past five years, the first and only woman to hold that job.

In her words: “We are one Maine, undivided, one family from Calais to Bethel, from York to Fort Kent.”

The 48-year-old grew up in the Somerset County seat of Skowhegan. She led the ConnectME Authority, the state agency tasked with bringing broadband to all Maine households and businesses, and also served as executive director of the Somerset County Economic and Development Corp. Her resume includes positions at Gateway, Polaroid and Nokia. In her new role she will oversee more than two dozen experts across several bureaus.

In her words: Excited “by the great potential we have to find sustainable growth strategies for all parts of Maine.”

Figueroa has more than 22 years of public sector and nonprofit financial executive experience, having overseen the financial, administrative, human resources and technology aspects of several large organizations and government departments. She previously headed the administrative services division in the Office of the Maine Attorney General. As Maine's administrative and financial services chief, her duties will include developing the biennial budget, coordinating state agencies' financial planning and programming and overseeing tax administration.

In her words: Looks forward to “repairing the morale, reputation and dignity of the state's workforce.”

A Cape Elizabeth native with extensive experience on the national stage, Lambrew held senior positions at the White House for a decade and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for four years. As President Barack Obama's deputy assistant for health policy from 2013-17, her duties included implementation and defense of the Affordable Care Act. Mills underscored the high profile she will give health care by naming Lambrew as her first cabinet pick, citing Lambrew's “deep well of policy knowledge and the skills to effectively implement complex policies.” Lambrew grew up in Portland.

In her words: Priorities will include taking steps “to lower the cost of health care, to lower prescription drug prices, expand treatment for mental and health and substance use disorders, and to strengthen public health preparedness.”

Van Note, who currently oversees policy and planning at the Maine Turnpike Authority, has 25 years of professional transportation work experience in Maine, including 12 years as deputy commissioner at the Maine Department of Transportation, where he managed every aspect of the department. The 58-year-old, who has practiced law and owned and operated a small surveying and land-use consulting firm, serves on the planning board in Topsham, where he lives with his wife. If confirmed, he will oversee a department with close to 2,000 employees and annual average expenditures of $650 million.

In his words: Looks forward to working with others “to improve our transportation system and take it to the next level.”

This would be the second time in the job for the 64-year- old, who was Maine's labor commissioner from 2003-11 under Gov. John Baldacci. As deputy administrator of the wage and hour division at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2013–17, she helped enforce national labor standards, including requirements for minimum wage and worker protections in immigration-related visa and other programs. She lives in Nobleboro with her husband.

In her words: “There is a lot to do, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

The 52-year old Cumberland resident has spent his whole career with the Workers' Compensation Board, starting as a mediator in 1993 and serving as general counsel since 1999. His counsel duties include drafting legislative proposals and managing day-to-day operations.

In his words: “I will work hard to ensure that the board fairly and expeditiously serves Maine's employees and employers.”

Makin brings experience in both the classroom and in administration, including assistant superintendent of the Brunswick School Department since 2015. If confirmed as education commissioner, she will lead the state agency that administers state education subsidy and state and federal grant programs and leads collaborations supporting local schools and districts. She grew up in Saco and lives in Scarborough with her husband, a middle-school teacher, and their two dogs.

In her words: “I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to what, I believe, is the most important work of all — public education.”

Jerry Reid has more than two decades of experience in the Office of the Maine Attorney General's natural resources division, which he has headed since 2007. He specializes in matters related to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, hydroelectric licensing, land use law and environmental litigation. Reid, 49, is an alumnus of the University of Maine School of Law and lives in Harpswell with his wife and three daughters.

In his words: “I have been privileged to work on some of the most important environmental and natural resources issues facing Maine … and I'm excited by the opportunity to continue that work in a new role.”


As director of the wildlife division at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife since June 2013, Camuso oversees research and monitoring programs, hunting and trapping seasons, endangered species management and all habitat management activities. If confirmed, the 48-year-old will be the first woman to lead the department. Camuso lives in Freeport.

In her words: “I have dedicated my career to the preservation and enhancement of our outdoors, the wildlife that inhabit it, and the people who enjoy it.”


Beal, 46, grew up on a dairy farm and currently lives in Warren, where she and her husband own a 35-acre farm and are working to establish a fruit orchard, manage their 25-acre woodlot and establish a cheese-producing creamery. She has served as president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust since 2016. In her new role she will oversee a department that was consolidated during the LePage administration and which had been led by Walter Whitcomb. 

In her words: “To a large degree, our state is characterized by the intersection of agriculture, conservation and forestry, and, to that end, I believe it is up to this department to lead the state’s efforts to maintain that brand, our way of life, and our culture. Ensuring that these sectors thrive is not only necessary for the economic health of our state, but for sustaining many of the essential qualities that define Maine.”

Three other nominees — Patrick Keliher at the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Anne Head at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation and Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham with the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Veterans Management — are holdovers from the LePage administration.