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News Release

Release No. 0301.09
Office of Communications (202)720-4623

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WASHINGTON, July 10, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the names of additional people who will hold staff positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These people will work in various agencies within the department.

"I'm pleased to announce additional staff who will work with President Obama and me to strengthen communities throughout our country, advance research and education initiatives and serve the needs of all agriculture producers," said Vilsack.


Miles Patrie – Confidential Assistant, Risk Management Agency, grew up on a raspberry, cattle, and small grains farm near Bowdon, N.D. Patrie worked as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Kent Conrad on the 2008 Farm Bill before joining the Obama campaign as a field organizer in North Dakota and Wisconsin. Previously, he served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow, in which he conducted a food gap assessment in rural Northern New Mexico and analyzed rural development and anti-hunger policy in Washington, DC. Patrie is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Anthropology.


Rachael Goldfarb – Counselor to the Under Secretary. Most recently she served as Special Assistant to the President of the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with Honors, Goldfarb served in the Clinton White House, first as Assistant to the Policy Staff at the National Economic Council and then as Assistant to John D. Podesta, the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Following the end of the administration, Goldfarb was named Special Assistant to the Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She received her Juris Doctor from Penn State University, where she served as Managing Editor of the Penn State International Law Review. She subsequently clerked for the Honorable R. Barclay Surrick of the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Honorable D. Brooks Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. A Philadelphia native, Goldfarb now lives in Washington D.C.

Maura O'Neill – Senior Advisor for Energy and Climate - O'Neill served most recently as chief of staff for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. She has spent over 25 years in the public, private, and academic sectors focused on two areas: sustainable energy development and entrepreneurship/innovation. She has founded four companies, is on the faculty of UC Berkeley, served on local, state, utility and non-profit policy committees. In 2008, she built a broad coalition of industry and advocacy groups to forge bipartisan and bicameral support for passage of wide-ranging federal clean energy tax incentives. In 1987 she was one of the North American Representatives to the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Energy Efficiency and Utility Industry. O'Neill has also served on the National Panel on Energy and Employment Policy. O'Neill graduated with a BA from the University of Washington. She received MBAs from both Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley and was awarded the Distinguished Student Award. She completed her PhD at the University of Washington.

Ann Tutwiler – Senior Advisor for International Affairs. Previously, she was advisor on International Trade for the Africa Bureau's Sustainable Development group at USAID. Before joining USAID, she was Managing Director, Agricultural Markets, for the Global Development Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Before joining the Hewlett Foundation, she served as president and chief executive officer of the International Food & Agriculture Trade Policy Council. She was Director of Government Relations for the North American oilseed crushing and corn refining companies of Eridania Beghin-Say. She has served on the board of the International Fertilizer Development Council, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa and the Dean Rusk International Studies Program at Davidson College. Tutwiler received a degree in political science from Davidson College and a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also received certificates in agribusiness management from Purdue University and INSEAD. She was recently awarded the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service from Davidson College.


Curt Wiley – Chief of Staff, Rural Business Service. Wiley, an Iowa native, has extensive experience in state government and public-private partnerships in the Midwest. He served then Indiana Governor Evan Bayh as Executive Assistant for Commerce and Agriculture. Wiley's previous positions include Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Commerce, and Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Wiley has also worked for Fannie Mae as the Director of the Indiana Community Business Center, and the Urban Land Institute as the Executive Director of its 1,500 member Chicago District Council.

Katie Yocum – Confidential Assistant, Rural Utility Service. Yocum most recently served as confidential assistant and director of outreach under Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at the Federal Communications Commission. Before that, Yocum worked as the campaign coordinator for the Media and Democracy Coalition, a national coalition of nonprofit organizations committed to amplifying the voices of the public in shaping media and telecommunications policy. She received a degree in Media Studies from the University of Illinois College of Communications where she studied at the Institute for Communications Research.

Jessica Zufolo – Deputy Administrator, Rural Utility Service. Most recently Zufolo served as senior policy director for telecommunications, media and technology research for Medley Global Advisors. She served as Legislative Director for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners where she was responsible for developing and executing national legislative strategy and policy on Capitol Hill involving telecommunications, technology, consumer protection and water. Before joining NARUC, Zufolo worked for the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-Congressman Charles E. Schumer of New York and Rep. Peter A. Defazio of Oregon.


David Sandretti – Deputy Director. Sandretti most recently was the Communications Director for the League of Conservation Voters. A seasoned communications professional who has worked on Capitol Hill, in the non-profit issue advocacy arena, and the private sector, he served as communications director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee under Senator Jim Jeffords for two years and as communications director and chief spokesperson for Senator Barbara Boxer for 10 years. He also served as press secretary for Senator Russ Feingold for two years. He worked for the firm of Fingerhut Powers and Smith as a senior associate serving a variety of political and labor clients. Sandretti grew up on his family's dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin.