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U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments

WASHINGTON, September 27, 2022 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C.

Penny Brown Reynolds, Ph.D., has been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Operations in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Dr. Brown Reynolds previously served as Executive Counsel to Georgia’s Governor, and Chief of Staff and Executive Counsel to Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor. With service in all three branches of state government, Dr. Brown Reynolds has thirty years of senior management experience overseeing operations of large departments. She has served as a Chief Legal Officer, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor on a wide array of issues, and as a state trial court judge. In 2018, Dr. Brown Reynolds received a dual appointment with the University System of Georgia, serving as an adjunct faculty member at Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Most recently, she worked as a licensed mediator, arbitrator and practicing attorney. Dr. Brown Reynolds holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University, a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law, a master’s degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University.

Riya Mehta has been promoted to Chief of Staff for the Farm Service Agency

Riya Mehta has served as Policy Advisor for the Farm Service Agency since November 2021 where she has worked to develop and implement programs for pandemic and disaster assistance, conservation, and farm loans that support Administration initiatives. She joined USDA after leading the agriculture and environment portfolio for U.S. Congressman Jimmy Panetta. Prior, Mehta was a Legislative Fellow for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, where she worked on the 2018 Farm Bill. She received a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems from Stanford University.

Russellie Bongolan has been promoted to Deputy White House Liaison in the Office of the Secretary

Russellie Bongolan was appointed in November 2021 where she served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics Mission Area. There she worked to promote key USDA priorities, including equity, program modernization and climate change. Prior to her appointment, she served as Political Director for Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and as Georgia Deputy Director of Coalitions for the Biden-Harris Campaign. Additionally, Bongolan has over 10 years in the public and private sector working on veterans health administration and education technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science & International Studies from University of California, Irvine and a Master of Science of Social Work from Columbia University.


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