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National Appeals Division (NAD)

NAD is an office that reports directly to the Secretary of Agriculture and is, by law, independent from the direction and control of any other agency within USDA.  Our sole mission is to conduct impartial administrative appeals hearings of adverse program decisions by the following USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Rural Housing Agency, the Rural Business Cooperative Service, and the Rural Utilities Service. 

Anyone who disagrees with an agency program decision can resolve their dispute by filing an appeal with NAD and receiving a hearing. A NAD hearing provides an opportunity for an appellant to present their case, including any new evidence, before an independent Administrative Judge (AJ).  The AJ reviews the facts and evidence presented and determines if the agency decision was in error.

The National Appeals Division’s Headquarters Office is located in Alexandria, Virginia with regional offices located in:  Indianapolis, Indiana (Eastern Regional Office); Cordova, Tennessee (Southern Regional Office); and Lakewood, Colorado (Western Regional Office).

The National Appeals Division exists to conduct impartial administrative appeals hearings and reviews of adverse program decisions made by officers, employees or committees of designated agencies of the Department of Agriculture.

Organization

NAD Locations

The National Appeals Division’s Headquarters Office is located in Alexandria, Virginia with regional offices located in:  Indianapolis, Indiana (Eastern Regional Office); Cordova, Tennessee (Southern Regional Office); and Lakewood, Colorado (Western Regional Office).


Organizational Chart

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Organizational Roles

Director
The Director is responsible for managing the work assigned to the Division, recommends Administrative Judges (AJ) for Secretary of Agriculture appointment, issues final determinations as to whether a decision is appealable, reviews AJ determinations, and may reconsider a review determination.

Deputy Director
The Deputy Director is a career civil servant who assists the Director in all aspects of developing, managing and directing a comprehensive appeals program for NAD. The Deputy Director shares in the supervisory authority for setting and implementing the Division’s long-range plans, staffing, budget, and overall administrative objectives. The Deputy Director has been delegated authority by the Director to make final appealability decisions, review determinations, and reconsider review determinations.

Supervisory Appeals Officer
The Supervisory Appeals Officer (SAO) is responsible for supervising and monitoring the review process of appellant cases filed with NAD.  The SAO verifies regulatory and statutory references are accurate, timeframes are met, and review determinations prepared in accordance with Department and Division policies. The SAO supervises the Appeals Officers.

Regional Director
Three Regional Directors oversee a regional staff of Administrative Judges and administrative personnel to ensure that appeals meet statutory and administrative time frames, manage all administrative and operational functions for that region, and provide oversight for the appeal case management process. As Regional Directors, they share the responsibility for accomplishment of the Division’s administrative requirements.

Director's Welcome

Welcome to the National Appeals Division (NAD) website.

NAD is an office that reports directly to the Secretary of Agriculture and is, by law, independent from the direction and control of any other agency within USDA.  Our sole mission is to conduct impartial administrative appeals hearings of adverse program decisions by the following USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Rural Housing Agency, the Rural Business Cooperative Service, and the Rural Utilities Service. 

Anyone who disagrees with an agency program decision can resolve their dispute by filing an appeal with NAD and receiving a hearing. A NAD hearing provides an opportunity for an appellant to present their case, including any new evidence, before an independent Administrative Judge (AJ).  The AJ reviews the facts and evidence presented and determines if the agency decision was in error.

On this website, you’ll find everything you need to know about NAD, from how and where to file an appeal to searching previous NAD decisions for reference.  It’s designed to be user-friendly so you can find your way around easily and obtain information quickly.  You can read about filing an appeal and how to contact us.

You can also view our introduction and appeal process videos on USDA's YouTube channel.

Frank M. Wood

Director

Administration Biographies
Frank M. Wood, Director, USDA Office of Hearings and Appeals

 

Frank M. Wood
Director, USDA National Appeals Division

Mr. Frank M. “Max” Wood was named the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) on October 15, 2019.

Mr. Wood is a native of the Atlanta, Georgia area. He graduated Cum Laude from LaGrange College in 1981 and from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1985.

Mr. Wood served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate for five years and remained in the Reserves and/or Air National Guard until he retired with the rank of Colonel in December of 2015. As a reserve Air Force officer, Mr. Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and Islamabad, Pakistan.

Mr. Wood served as the Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit in Georgia and also worked in a private practice in Macon, Georgia.

In 2001, he was appointed the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia by President George W. Bush and served until 2009. While serving as United States Attorney, Mr. Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for one year to serve as the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Mr. Wood was appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge for the State of Georgia in 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue.

Mr. Wood is married to the former Suzanne Bronson, and they have three children.

 

Jennifer Nicholson
Deputy Director, USDA National Appeals Division

Mrs. Jennifer Nicholson has been with the National Appeals Division (NAD) for nearly fifteen years. She has held several positions related to adjudicating administrative appeals.  Since 2019, Mrs. Nicholson has been the Deputy Director, primarily responsible for overseeing the operations of NAD’s regional offices and the issuance of Director Review Determinations. 

Mrs. Nicholson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University and her law degree from Creighton University.  She completed judicial clerkships with the Circuit Court of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

 

Jeffrey P. Wilcox
Supervisory Appeals Officer, USDA National Appeals Division

Mr. Jeffrey Wilcox joined the National Appeals Division (NAD) in May 2020 as the Supervisory Appeals Officer.  Mr. Wilcox began his professional career in 1983 as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy.  Departing the Navy in 1988 to attend law school. He subsequently joined the U.S. Air Force where he served for 25 years as a Judge Advocate, retiring in 2017 in the grade of Colonel.  While in military service, Mr. Wilcox deployed overseas and served in various locations worldwide, to include the Republic of Turkey, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Hawaii and the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks.  In his final Air Force assignment, he served as the Vice Commander and Interim Commander for the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, a 900-member organization charged with conducting the Air Force’s civil and criminal litigation functions.  After retiring from the Air Force in late 2017, Mr. Wilcox served as a supervisory attorney with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, before joining NAD.  

Mr. Wilcox earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1983, a Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1991, and a Master of Science Degree from The Eisenhower School for National Security And Resource Strategy in 2008. 

 

Duane A. Sinclair
Regional Director – Eastern Region, USDA National Appeals Division

Mr. Duane Sinclair has served as the Regional Director of the National Appeals Division’s (NAD) Eastern Regional Office (ERO) since June 2005. As Regional Director, Mr. Sinclair oversees the adjudication of cases filed in ERO and supervises a staff of dispersed Administrative Judges who conduct hearings throughout the region.  Mr. Sinclair is also responsible for the administrative functions, training, and supervision of the staff in the Indianapolis, Indiana, regional office.

Mr. Sinclair has spent his entire career with USDA and has been directly involved with administrative appeal processes since September 1989.   Throughout his tenure, Mr. Sinclair has served on several intra-agency committees and task forces that developed operating procedures and protocols for the adjudication of administrative appeals.  He has also made numerous presentations to NAD stakeholders about the administrative appeal process.

From January 1996 to May 2005, Mr. Sinclair served as the Regional Director in NAD’s Southern Regional Office and, from October 1994 through December 1995, served as the ERO Deputy Regional Director.  Prior to the establishment of NAD, Mr. Sinclair served as an Assistant Area Supervisor and Hearing Officer in the Eastern Region of the Farmers Home Administration’s National Appeals Staff.  He began his USDA career with the Farmers Home Administration in a County Office located in Northern Illinois.  Mr. Sinclair received his Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, majoring in Agri-Business Management.

 

Tezra O. Woody
Regional Director – Southern Region, USDA National Appeals Division

Mrs. Tezra Woody, JD, MA, joined the National Appeals Division (NAD) in 2006 as a Deputy Regional Director of the Southern Region Office (SRO). In that capacity Mrs. Woody supervised Administrative Judges in nine southern states while managing her own caseload featuring matters of complexity and first impression. In July 2020, Mrs. Woody was promoted to the position of Southern Regional Director. Her new role includes fiduciary and asset management duties, among other exciting challenges.

Mrs. Woody is a retired US Army JAG Corps Officer who spent 23 years in uniform. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Winston-Salem State University in 1990, and her J.D from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in 1998. In November of 2019, she completed a Master of Arts degree in Communication Management from the University of Denver.

 

Joli Liebrock
Regional Director – Western Region, USDA National Appeals Division

Mrs. Joli Liebrock joined the National Appeals Division (NAD) in January 2006 as a Deputy Regional Director for the Western Regional Office (WRO).  Mrs. Liebrock now serves as the Regional Director for that office. She has over 23 years of legal experience, including over a decade working to provide agricultural producers and other USDA participants fair and timely appeals.  As Regional Director, Ms. Liebrock oversees the adjudication of cases filed in the Western Regional Office and supervises a staff, including Administrative Judges located throughout the Western Region, to ensure customers receive an efficient appeal process designed to address their concerns.  She has been an important contributor to agency-wide initiatives and provides presentations and trainings to both USDA program participants and agencies alike.  Prior to joining NAD, Ms. Liebrock was a partner with a large Denver-based law firm where she worked with clients to accomplish their goals in regulatory, real estate, litigation, and other matters.  

Ms. Liebrock earned a Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona.

Strategic Plan

Download the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) Strategic Plan

Reports

Equitable Relief Reports

Each year the Secretary of Agriculture is required to submit a report to Congress describing the number of requests for equitable relief that producers filed pursuant to sections 1613(b) and (e) and section 278(d) of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 during the previous calendar year and their disposition.  
The annual reports (PDF) can be found here 2021 (PDF, 104 KB), 20202019.