Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Dr. Alma Cobb Hobbs and Robin Heard as Deputy Assistant Secretaries for Administration | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0183.09
USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623

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WASHINGTON, May 27, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of two deputy assistant secretaries at USDA. Dr. Alma Cobb Hobbs and Robin Heard will provide management and civil rights expertise to Assistant Secretary Pearlie Reed.

"Dr. Hobbs and Ms. Heard will be key players as we improve management transparency and ensure equal access to departmental programs at USDA," Vilsack said. "Together they bring years of senior executive experience along with strong support for President Obama's vision for the future at the department."

Dr. Alma Cobb Hobbs currently is Dean of Agriculture at Virginia State University in Petersburg and serves as a member of the President's Council under Virginia State University President Moore. A career USDA executive, she previously was Special Assistant for Diversity and Outreach to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Prior to that, she was Deputy Administrator for Economics and Community Systems with USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES).

Hobbs began her career with USDA in 1970, serving as an Assistant Extension Agent in Bertie County North Carolina. She holds a bachelor's degree from the North Carolina Central University and master's and doctoral degrees from North Carolina State University. She has received numerous awards including a USDA Honor Award and served as Chairperson of USDA's Honor Awards Evaluation Committee in 2004.

Heard currently is Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at USDA. She began her career with the department in 1976 with the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service). She has served in several capacities across the country, which includes State Conservationist in Pennsylvania, Assistant State Conservationist in Utah, Human Resources Officer, Financial Manager and Resource Conservationist in Georgia.

Heard is a native of Louisiana and a graduate of the University of Louisiana in Monroe. She also has done graduate work at the University of Georgia. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including two USDA Honor Awards.