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Agency Chief Counsel



Governor's Office of Administration

Keith Herbster 
Acting Chief Counsel

 Biography coming soon.



 

Neeka Jones Department of Aging

Neeka Jones
Chief Counsel 

Neeka Jones was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging in April 2015. Prior to her appointment, she served as Special Counsel and Assistant to the Chair of the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee. 

During her tenure with the Office of State Senator Vincent Hughes, she served as Chief Minority Counsel/Executive Director to the Public Health & Welfare Committee and as Legislative Director and Counsel. From 2007 to 2009, Ms. Jones was Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the Pennsylvania Health Care Association where she played a key role in the development of regulations for governance of assisted living facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Early in her career, Ms. Jones worked with the largest utility company in Southern California and with two small law firms in Southern California, one of which subsequently merged with Pillsbury Winthrop, LLC. Ms. Jones has federal experience gained working as a Legislative Analyst for US Representative Diane Watson (CA 33). She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the James S. Bowman American Inn of Court, the Dauphin County Bar Association and the National Association of Professional Women. Ms. Jones is currently an Adjunct Professor with the Harrisburg Area Community College and has lectured and been requested to speak on a range of legal topics including legal research and writing, women in the law and paralegal studies. Ms. Jones received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from Yale University and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law where she was on Law Review.



Department of Agriculture

 John Howard
Chief Counsel

John Howard was appointed Chief Counsel to the Department of Agriculture in February, 2019.  He had previously served as Chief Counsel to the Department of Agriculture from 2011 to 2015, and as Assistant Counsel from 2015 until 2018.  From 2002 to 2011, John served as the Staff Attorney for the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, where he was responsible for advising Board Staff as to interpretation and enforcement of the Milk Marketing Law, representing the Staff in proceedings before the board, and drafting regulations and moving them through the regulatory review process.  From 1999 to 2002 he was an associate in a small law practice in Lancaster County advising farm clients on matters involving agricultural land preservation, the Clean and Green Act, real estate transactions, environmental and nutrient management laws, and estate planning.

Mr. Howard brings a thorough knowledge of the agriculture industry, from production, regulatory, legal and organizational levels.  From 1981 to 2001, Mr. Howard operated a dairy farm in Willow Street, Lancaster County and continues to operate the farm for the growing of cash crops.  He has been involved in local, state and national agricultural organizations, serving as a director of the Holstein Association USA, President of the Lancaster County Holstein Association, director of the Lancaster County Dairy Herd Improvement Association, and legislative liaison for the Lancaster County Farm Bureau.  

Mr. Howard has also been active in local government, serving as a Township Supervisor for 15 years, as well as a member of his township's Zoning Hearing Board, Planning Commission, and Recreation Commission.  He has also served as an adjunct professor at Harrisburg Area Community College, teaching a course in agricultural law at the Lancaster campus.

Mr. Howard received his Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University, and his Juris Doctor from the Penn State Dickinson School of Law.  He is admitted to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which he served as Chairman of the Agricultural Law Committee.

 


Department of Banking and Securities

Stefanie Hamilton
Chief Counsel

Stefanie Hamilton was appointed Chief Counsel for the Department of Banking and Securities in August 2020. She was previously was appointed Acting Chief Counsel for the agency in December 2019.  She started her Commonwealth career in 1998 as an attorney for the Pennsylvania Securities Commission.  She then became associate counsel for the Department of Banking and Securities in 2012 after the merger of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission with the Department of Banking.   In 2016, she became Deputy Chief Counsel for the Department.    Ms. Hamilton is a 1994 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a B.S. in Industrial Management and  B.S. in Economics and a 1997 graduate of The Dickinson School of Law.   



Governor's Office of the Budget

Brian Zweiacher
Chief Counsel

Brian D. Zweiacher was appointed Chief Counsel to the Governor’s Office of the Budget in June of 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Acting Chief Counsel since March of 2012. From 1993 to 2012, he served the Governor’s Office of the Budget Legal Office as an Assistant Counsel.

The Governor’s Office of the Budget is the Commonwealth’s fiscal manager with the responsibility for overseeing the Commonwealth’s financial operations and transactions of Pennsylvania’s $60+ billion total operating budget. In its role as the Commonwealth’s fiscal manager, the Governor’s Office of the Budget: oversees the creation of the Pennsylvania Governor’s annual Executive Budget plan and capital project spending plan; participates in the enactment of the Commonwealth’s annual budget plan and the budget-related legislation; oversees the implementation and execution of the enacted annual budgets and capital project itemization acts; processes the expenditure and payroll transactions for the Executive Branch agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction and several independent agencies; has the lead responsibility for issuing and managing the Commonwealth’s General Obligation bonds; and, conducts or oversees financial and performance audits of Commonwealth agencies, including the Commonwealth’s annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and its annual federal Single Audit. 

The Governor’s Office of the Budget Legal Office advises the Governor’s Office of the Budget on all of these areas of Pennsylvania’s financial operations, and on the Governor’s Office of the Budget’s own employment, procurement, and contract matters, and represents the Governor’s Office of the Budget before federal and state courts and administrative agencies.

Mr. Zweiacher received his B.A. with honors from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, and his juris doctor from the Widener University School of Law where he was a staff member of what is now known as The Widener Law Journal, the law journal of Widener’s Harrisburg campus. He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.



Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency

Debra Sandifer
Chief Counsel

Debra Sandifer was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in February 2016. 

Just prior to coming to OGC, Ms. Sandifer maintained a practice before administrative tribunals in Philadelphia, such as the Real Estate Tax Review Board and Workers’ Compensation courts.  In private practice in Philadelphia, she handled general liability and insurance defense litigation, and represented the School District of Philadelphia.

Ms. Sandifer was General Counsel to the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and oversaw the claims and loss safety programs.  Prior to that Ms. Sandifer was a Chief Assistant City Solicitor, defending the City of Philadelphia in civil rights matters before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Sandifer also served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and tried criminal cases in such places as Adak, Alaska and Australia.  She successfully argued a pivotal 4th Amendment case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. 

In prior service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, she served as Deputy Inspector General for Southeastern Pennsylvania, and later as a law clerk at the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Sandifer received a J.D. from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in French and General Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.



Department of Community and Economic Development

Lori K. Irwin
Acting Chief Counsel

Lori K. Irwin was appointed in December of 2021 as Acting Chief Counsel to the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), an agency which provides strategic technical assistance, training, and financial  resources to promote economic development in communities across the Commonwealth. Preceding her appointment, Ms. Irwin  served in a variety of capacities at DCED including as counsel to the various economic development financing programs, tax credit programs and the Governor’s Action Team. She also served as a Deputy General Counsel with the Governor’s Office of General Counsel where her primary practice area was legislative initiatives. 

Prior to her service with the Commonwealth which began in 1997, Ms. Irwin was in private practice with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Philadelphia, PA, where she was a member of that firm’s Corporate and Securities Group. 

Ms. Irwin received her bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and her Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Boston College Law School. She resides in Lancaster County with her husband and two children.



Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Audrey F. Miner
Chief Counsel

Audrey Feinman Miner was appointed Chief Counsel to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources effective June, 2015. Prior to that appointment, Ms. Miner was a Senior Counsel with the Department of Health, where she functioned as the Litigation Coordinator and provided advice to a variety of health program areas. Before coming to Health, Audrey was Assistant Counsel-in- Charge, Personnel Section, at PENNDOT. At PENNDOT, Ms. Miner was primarily responsible for providing legal advice on labor and employment matters as well as working on a variety of high-profile issues concerning the vehicle emissions inspection program. Ms. Miner was appointed to an air Quality Task Force in order to oversee the legal aspects of PENNDOT’s implementation of the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990.

Ms. Miner received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her juris doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law, where she was on the Law Review. Prior to joining the Commonwealth, Ms. Miner was an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and clerked for the Honorable John A. MacPhail, Commonwealth Court.



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Timothy A. Holmes
Chief Counsel

Timothy A. Holmes was appointed Acting Chief Counsel for the Department of Corrections in September of 2019 and later named Chief Counsel.  He had been previously employed as the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Inmate Litigation Section. After being an OGC Intern through law school, he began his employment with the Department in 2002.  He worked in all three of the Department's Legal Sections: Inmate Litigation, Employment, and Legal Services.  

For the Inmate Litigation Section, he represented clients in trials, hearings, and oral arguments, including arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  For the Employment Section, he represented the Department in cases before the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and Union Arbitrators.  For the Legal Services Section, he drafted, reviewed, interpreted, executed, and ensured compliance with Department of Corrections' contracts, memoranda of understanding, intergovernmental agreements, licenses, leases, settlement agreements, and union agreements. 

Mr. Holmes graduated from Juniata College in 1987 as an Academic All-American with a degree in Public Administration.  After graduating, he worked for his family's printing business, as a private investigator, and a carpenter.  While working, he went to school at night at Penn State University, Capital Campus to obtain a Master's Degree in Business Administration. Upon earning his degree, he began employment at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency as a Management Analyst examining the agency's operating procedures, designating areas of improvement, and implementing the recommended procedures.  After working at PHEAA for eight years, he enrolled full-time in the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 2001.



Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

Daniel Fellin
Chief Counsel

Daniel Fellin was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in March 2019.  Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.  He worked at the Department of Human Services from 1997-2019, and handled matters relating to licensing, behavioral health and intellectual disabilities, child welfare services, and county human services funding issues.  

Mr. Fellin has litigated cases in Federal and State courts; drafted, analyzed, and revised legislation and regulations; and advised agency executive staff and CEOs of state-operated care facilities on a variety of legal and operational matters. He served as a mentor to new attorneys in the OGC Litigation Skills Training Program and as co-chair of the OGC Litigation Practice Group Motions Subcommittee.  Prior to joining OGC, Mr. Fellin worked for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during and after law school.  He obtained his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law.




Department of Education

Elizabeth A. Maguschak
Chief Counsel

Elizabeth A. Maguschak was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in October 2016.  Prior to her appointment, Ms. Maguschak had been associated with the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC for 31 years, where she served as a member of the firm’s education practice group.  

Ms. Maguschak provided general operations assistance to educational institutions in many areas including the review and analysis of legislation and the preparation and revision of by-laws, contracts, waivers and releases, policies and procedures, handbooks, and related documents.  She also advised institutions of higher education on issues as wide-ranging as disability accommodations (employee and student), student discipline and other student life issues, tenure, promotion, academic freedom and other faculty issues, Title IX, the Clery Act, VAWA, FERPA, Compliance, and other education-related laws and regulations, athletics concerns, public safety/security issues, crisis management, personnel and human resources matters, and internal grievances.  Ms. Maguschak also provided training to education clients on many different topics, particularly sexual harassment, Title IX, and investigatory techniques.

Since 2000, Ms. Maguschak has served as a certified federal court mediator, following her selection by members of the Federal Bench for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

In June 2006, Ms. Maguschak was awarded the Lynette Norton Award, which is bestowed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA).  The PBA’s Commission on Women in the Profession selects a Lynette Norton Award winner each year from female PBA members.  Winners must demonstrate leadership in mentoring female attorneys and must excel in litigation.  In 2005, Ms. Maguschak was honored with two prestigious awards for women.  The Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce presented Ms. Maguschak with the Athena Award.  The Athena Award is given to the businesswoman who has demonstrated the highest level of professional accomplishment and is based on professional competency, achievement and dedication.  One month earlier, Ms. Maguschak received the PEARL Award from the YWCA of Greater Hazleton.  In 2004, Ms. Maguschak was presented with the Woman Inspiring Hope and Possibilities Award by the Alumni Office at Bloomsburg University.

Ms. Maguschak received her undergraduate degree from Bloomsburg University (Summa Cum Laude) and her Juris Doctor degree from The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (Magna Cum Laude).




Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

Nicole M. Bordonaro
Chief Counsel

Nicole M. Bordonaro was appointed Chief Counsel with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in April of 2015. Prior to her recent appointment, Nicole served as Deputy General Counsel for Legislative Affairs with the Governor’s Office of General Counsel from January 2015. Previously, Nicole had been appointed as Executive Deputy General Counsel for Legislative Affairs beginning in August 2012. 

In her role as Executive Deputy General Counsel, Ms. Bordonaro served as counsel to the Governor’s Office of Legislative Affairs and the Governor’s Policy Office on all legislative matters. In tandem with her legislative responsibilities, Ms. Bordonaro served as liaison counsel to the Department of General Services. Ms. Bordonaro also served as the General Counsel’s designee to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (Pennsylvania Delegation), and to the Joint Committee on Documents (Chair).

Previous to Ms. Bordonaro's appointment she was employed by the Governor's Office of General Counsel, Department of Education's Office of Chief Counsel. Her primary areas of concentration at the Department of Education were legislation, litigation and school finance. In addition, Ms. Bordonaro created the Civics Education Alliance, a partnership between OGC and the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA). Prior to entering law school, Ms. Bordonaro was employed by the Pittsburgh based public affairs firm, William J. Green & Associates. Upon graduation from law school, Ms. Bordonaro was employed with the Pennsylvania Senate; as Assistant Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry; and as a law clerk to the Honorable Bernard L. McGinley, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Bordonaro serves as a mediator for OGC's Dispute Resolution program, was appointed the 2012-2013 Chair of the PBA's Administrative Law Section, and received a "Pro-Bono Award" from the PBA in 2010. Ms. Bordonaro is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the James S. Bowman American Inns of Court, the Commonwealth Court Historical Society, the OGC Hiring Committee and has served as a lecturer and presenter for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. Ms. Bordonaro received the 2011 "Governor's Office of General Counsel's Award for Excellence, Energy and Enthusiasm" for her dedication and service to the Commonwealth. Ms. Bordonaro received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and a juris doctor degree from the Widener University School of Law (cum laude, Widener Scholar).



 Department of Environmental Protection

Stares 200x250.pngDiana Stares
Chief Counsel

Diana Stares was appointed Acting Chief Counsel for the Department of Environmental Protection in September 2020, after having served as the Litigation Coordinator for DEP from 2016 to 2020.  She started her career as a lawyer for the Department of Environmental Resources in 1980 and served as the Regional Counsel for the agency’s Southwest Regional Office from 1990 to 2011. In 2011, she was appointed as the inaugural Director of the Center for Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College and served in that capacity until 2016. Ms. Stares is a 1977 graduate of Hofstra University and a 1980 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law.




Department of General Services

Shawn E. Smith
Acting Chief Counsel

Shawn Smith serves as the Chief Counsel for the Department of General Services. In this position, he provides advice, counsel, and expertise on complex and sensitive department legal matters to senior executive officials and the Office of General Counsel. He oversees a staff of attorneys and support staff who cover the department’s legal needs in procurement, real estate, non-highway construction projects, Capitol Police, facilities & maintenance, and litigation for the department. In addition, the office covers government operations and human resources issues.

Smith was previously appointed Deputy Secretary for Administration in May 2021. In these capacities, he served as Chief Financial Officer, oversaw the Department’s human resources, budget and risk/insurance management, information technology, print and media services, as well as all real estate transactions for the commonwealth.

Mr. Smith has more than 21 years of legal experience with 17 of those years with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Having most recently served as the Deputy Chief Counsel, Governor's Office of General Counsel, Department of General Services since 2016, and also as the department's Policy Director since 2020.

Mr. Smith has served as both Executive General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel in the Governor's Office of General Counsel, where he oversaw all areas of contracting, grants, procurement and regulations for the 36 executive agencies under the Governor's jurisdiction and the 500 attorneys of the Office of General Counsel. In addition, he served as the Assistant Counsel/Prosecuting Attorney for the Governor's Office of General Counsel, Department of State.

Mr. Smith holds Bachelor of Art degrees in History and Legal Studies with a minor in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his Juris Doctorate from the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University.




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Yvette Kostelac
Chief Counsel

Yvette Kostelac is the Chief Counsel for the Department of Health. She was appointed to that position in 2018. She has been an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Health since 1990.  During her tenure with the Department of Health, she has acted as counsel to several of the Department’s regulatory programs and nearly each one of the Department’s public health bureaus. She was appointed Deputy Chief Counsel in 2015 and continued in that position until her appointment as Chief Counsel.




Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority

Jonathan D. Koltash
Chief Counsel

Jonathan D. Koltash was appointed Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority in December 2019.  Previously Mr. Koltash served as Assistant Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).  In that position, he served as DOH’s litigation supervisor, providing counsel to the Secretary of Health, the Physician General, and DOH staff on litigation matters. He was counsel to the Bureau of Human Resources, the Bureau of Laboratories, and the Office of Medical Marijuana.  He is also an adjunct professor at Widener Commonwealth Law School and Central Penn College. 

Prior to working with the DOH, Mr. Koltash served as Deputy Attorney General with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, where he represented the Commonwealth in various matters before both the federal and state courts. Mr. Koltash also previously served as Assistant Counsel for the Department of Labor and Industry. 

Mr. Koltash is an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA).  He currently sits in the PBA’s House of Delegates and serves as the Chair of the Government Lawyers’ Committee.  He is currently serving as the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Secretary of the Federal Bar Association Middle District Chapter, a member of the Board of Directors for the YMCA Youth and Government program a member of Widener Commonwealth’s Board of Overseers and leadership in the James S. Bowman Inn of Court.  

Mr. Koltash is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the United States District Courts of the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania.  Mr. Koltash received his B.S. in Finance and Economics from the Pennsylvania State University and his J.D., cum laude, from Widener University Commonwealth Law School.



 


Leonidas Pandeladis 
Chief Counsel

 Leo Pandeladis was appointed Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in December 2019. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Pandeladis served as Chief Counsel for the Department of Banking and Securities. Prior to that appointment, he served as the Director of Enterprise Compliance for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. In that role, Mr. Pandeladis was responsible for the management and oversight of PHEAA’s agency wide compliance management system. This oversight focused on insuring compliance with federal and state consumer protection statutes, regulations, sub-regulatory guidance, and other authority and applying these to agency operations primarily in the arena of student loan servicing for both the United States Department of Education and private financial service and banking entities.

Prior to his role at PHEAA, Mr. Pandeladis was the Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Leo has also served as the Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and as Acting Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of State. Before his tenures as Chief Counsel, Mr. Pandeladis served as a Deputy General Counsel with primary responsibilities as legislative counsel for the Governor’s Office and in litigation involving the Governor’s Office. In 2002, Mr. Pandeladis was appointed as Deputy Commissioner for Professional and Occupational affairs. In addition to these roles, Mr. Pandeladis served as an attorney with the Department of State and Pennsylvania Office of inspector General.

Mr. Pandeladis graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in microbiology/biochemistry and political and Magna Cum Laude with his juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law where he was a member of the Duquesne University Law Review senior staff.



 

Department of Human Services

Kenneth J. Serafin
Chief Counsel

Kenneth J. Serafin was appointed Chief Counsel for the Department of Human Services (DHS) in August of 2020. He was previously appointed Acting Chief Counsel of DHS in October of 2019.  Mr. Serafin had served since August of 2018 as the Executive Deputy Chief Counsel at DHS.  

Mr. Serafin has over seventeen years of experience with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including service as Chief Counsel to DHS, Deputy Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund, and Chief Counsel to the Fund’s predecessor entity.  Prior to returning to DHS in 2018, Mr. Serafin was Counsel at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in the firm’s Health Care Practice in Harrisburg, PA.  

He also has over seven years of federal government experience which includes service as a member of the majority professional staff on the Health Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means in Washington, D.C. His areas of responsibility included the Medicare Part A hospital benefit, fraud and abuse, health insurance and health care quality improvement. 

Mr. Serafin also served as Workforce Policy Counsel and professional staff for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce in Washington, D.C., where he developed legislation on issues including employee health and pension benefits, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employment law and labor relations.  Mr. Serafin obtained his B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University and his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law.



Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST)

Jayne B. Blake
Chief Counsel

Jayne B. Blake is the Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (“PENNVEST”). Ms. Blake  was initially appointed to that position in January 2005 and reappointed August 1, 2012. In her position, Ms. Blake counsels the PENNVEST Board and is involved in the senior management and general administration, as well as program administration and development of PENNVEST’s loans and grant programs for water, sewer and nonpoint source projects, the nutrient trading clearinghouse and the use of funds for investment in nutrient credits.

Prior to her appointment as Chief Counsel, Ms. Blake  served as Assistant Counsel to PENNVEST for ten years. While in law school and briefly thereafter, Ms. Blake served as a law clerk to the Chief Counsel at the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and to the administrative law judges at the Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Ms. Blake received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Massachusetts, a juris doctor from Widener University School of Law and a LL.M. in Taxation and certification in Employee Benefits from Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Blake is an Executive Committee member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Government Lawyers Committee and the Chair of the Governor’s Office of General Counsel’s Finance and Bankruptcy Practice Group.




Althia Bennett Chief Counsel Office of Inspector General .jpg Office of State Inspector General

Althia O. Bennett
Chief Counsel

Ms. Bennett began her undergraduate studies at Fordham University at Lincoln Center then transferred to Harpur College of the State University of New York where she received her Bachelor’s Degree. She graduated Cum Laude with All University Honors and Honors in Political Science. She obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law where she wrote for the Temple Environmental & Technology Law Journal; was awarded Outstanding Trial Advocacy and the Sender and Janina Szwalbenest Memorial Award.

Ms. Bennett is an experienced litigator in both criminal defense and civil areas of practice. Her legal background also encompasses appellate work and practice areas including contracts, real estate and commercial litigation. She began her legal career at the Defender Association of Philadelphia as a Staff Attorney, and later as a Municipal Court Supervisor. Upon completion of her term of service at the Defender Association she became a Managing Partner at a small law firm handling civil and criminal litigation. She later started her own practice as a solo practitioner handling appellate matters in Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts, litigation matters in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel as well as civil and criminal litigation in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.

Ms. Bennett is a strong believer and advocate of volunteerism and pro bono legal work. She has worked as a Volunteer Lawyer for the Arts with the Philadelphia Arts and Business Council and Philadelphia VIP, Pro Bono Legal Services and Law Works, assisting low-income homeowners facing foreclosure. For her service to indigent criminal defendants she was awarded the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania 2010 Pro Bono Publico Award.

Ms. Bennett is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association where she was appointed Co-Vice Chair of the Appellate Advocacy Committee and Co-Vice Chair of the Civil & Equal Rights Committee and the American Bar Association (ABA) where she was appointed to the Steering Group of the International Refugee Law Committee of the Section of International Law. She is an active participant in the ABA Law Student Division’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition as a Brief Grader, and Oral Argument Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  




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Kathryn M. Speaks
Acting Chief Counsel

Kathryn Speaks was appointed Acting Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department in December 2021. Prior to her appointment, she served as the Department’s Senior Litigation Counsel since 2017, overseeing  licensing and enforcement matters and litigating complex insurance issues before administrative agencies and the Pennsylvania appellate courts. 

Ms. Speaks has dedicated her entire career to public service.  She joined the Commonwealth in  1996 as a law clerk for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for the Department of Labor and Industry, and then acted as Assistant Counsel primarily handling litigation and regulatory matters for the Bureau. Ms. Speaks also served as Assistant Counsel to the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, Senior Counsel for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Deputy Chief Counsel for the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. In these different capacities, she has represented the Commonwealth in all facets of litigation, including civil, criminal, administrative and appellate law matters. 

Ms. Speaks is admitted to practice before the PA Supreme Court, the U.S. Middle District Court of PA, and the federal Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Kutztown University and received her Juris Doctorate in 1995 from the Dickinson School of Law. She is a current Council member of the Labor and Employment Section of the PBA, and previously served as Chairperson. She resides in Cumberland County with her husband and two sons.



20420_li_kelly_smith_portrait_8x10_dz_ copy (003).jpg Department of Labor and Industry

Kelly Smith
Acting Chief Counsel

Kelly K. Smith is the Acting Chief Counsel of the Department of Labor and Industry, after having served as the Executive Deputy Chief Counsel for L& I, a position she has held since August 2017.  

Prior to that, Ms. Smith was appointed the Deputy Chief Counsel for L&I’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in January 2015 and was responsible overseeing the Bureau’s legal staff and for legal advice to all divisions of the Bureau.  Ms. Smith previously served as Assistant Chief Counsel in L&I’s Safety, Training and Administration Division, where she was responsible for legal advice to the Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety, the Bureau of Disability Determination, the Bureau of Administrative Services, the Office of Information Technology and the State Workers’ Insurance Fund.  

She spent two years in private practice at the Harrisburg firm of Meyers, Desfor, Saltzgiver and Boyle.  Ms. Smith also previously served as an Assistant Counsel to L&I’s Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.  Ms. Smith received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, where she was awarded a University Law Scholarship, and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy from Wells College in Aurora, New York.



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Elizabeth L. Pettis
Chief Counsel

Elizabeth L. Pettis was appointed Deputy General Counsel with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) in July 2016, then as Chief Counsel for the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs in February 2018.  In addition to her general responsibilities to the General Counsel, Ms. Pettis’ practice focuses on transactional and regulatory matters affecting some 35 executive branch and independent Commonwealth agencies. She also develops, implements, and manages various training initiatives for OGC. 

Ms. Pettis has an extensive business, transactional and regulatory background within the Commonwealth and in private industry. Prior to her appointment, Elizabeth served as the Deputy Chief Counsel for Administration for the Department of Corrections, as an Assistant Counsel to the State Employees Retirement System, and as a Deputy Attorney General in the Office of Attorney General.In the private sector, Ms. Pettis served as Corporate Counsel at Caterpillar, Inc. and as an Associate with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Shippensburg University John L. Grove College of Business. 

Ms. Pettis received a B.A. in political science from Millersville University, an M.A. in public administration from Columbus State University, a J.D. from the Pennsylvania State University and an LL.M. in international business and trade law from American University. 

Prior to her legal career, Ms. Pettis served in the United States Army for over 10 years as both a Commissioned and a Non-Commissioned Officer.



Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System

See above Brian Zweiacher - Governor's Office of the Budget




Pennylvania Parole Board

Alan Robinson
Chief Counsel

Alan Robinson was appointed Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in October of 2016.  Prior to this appointment, he served as Acting Chief Counsel for the Board of Probation and Parole from January of 2015. Previously, Mr. Robinson served as Deputy Chief Counsel from January of 2012 until January of 2015.  His employment with the Board of Probation and Parole began in July of 2004, with an appointment as Assistant Counsel.  Mr. Robinson began his employment with the Office of General Counsel in July of 2000 as an Assistant Counsel at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Prior to employment with OGC, Alan was employed as a law clerk to the Honorable John S. Kennedy (York County) and as an associate in private practice.

Mr. Robinson currently represents the Board in claims filed by offenders and employees in state and federal courts and administrative tribunals. He also advises the Board and senior staff on all issues impacting the Board’s operation and provides training to county probation officers, state parole agents and hearing examiners. As an Assistant Counsel at the Department of Corrections, Alan represented the Department in inmate litigation and employment matters.

Mr. Robinson is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Mr. Robinson is a graduate of Purdue University and a cum laude graduate of the Dickinson School of Law, where he was a recipient of the Sidney D. Kline Memorial Scholarship and a member of the Woolsack Honor Society.



Department of Revenue

Thomas J. Gohsler
Chief Counsel

Tom Gohsler was appointed Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in February 2019. Prior to his appointment, he served as Acting Chief Counsel and Deputy Chief Counsel for Revenue from 2011 through 2017, supervising five attorneys that provide litigation and legal support services in the areas of inheritance tax, gaming matters, personnel, and agency transactional and procurement work.  Additionally, Mr. Gohsler served as counsel for the Pennsylvania Lottery during that time.

Prior to his appointment as Deputy Chief Counsel, he worked as counsel for Revenue from 1999 through 2011 and handled areas that included inheritance tax, sales and use tax, and Lottery.  Mr. Gohsler frequently speaks before county bar associations and various practice groups concerning issues related to tax and estate planning matters.

Mr. Gohsler received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and his juris doctor from the Dickinson School of Law.




Department of State

Timothy E. Gates
Chief Counsel

Timothy E. Gates was appointed Chief Counsel to the Department of State in October 2015.  Prior to this appointment, Mr. Gates served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.  In that capacity, Mr. Gates supervised a team of attorneys who represented the Department in civil rights litigation.

Prior to his service to the Office of General Counsel, Mr. Gates served as a Deputy Attorney General with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.  As a Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Gates was assigned to the Health Care Section where he prosecuted violations of the consumer protection law and other laws enforced by the Attorney General. 

Mr. Gates is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as well as the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in International Politics from the Pennsylvania State University and his law degree from the Widener University School of Law.

Prior to his legal career Mr. Gates was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army.  He resides in Dauphin County with his wife, Sandy, and their three children.




17705_psp_daniel_beck_dz_.jpg Pennsylvania State Police

Daniel Beck
Chief Counsel

 Daniel C. Beck was appointed in January 2020 as Chief Counsel for Pennsylvania State Police.  Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, Mr. Beck served as Chief Counsel of the Police Legal Affairs Division of the Baltimore City Department of Law.

In that capacity, his duties included advising the Department on all manner of legal matters, managing the City’s police litigation, serving as head of the Department’s labor negotiation team, and representing the Department as lead counsel in complex federal litigation.  

Mr. Beck also worked directly with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Monitoring Team, appointed by the U.S. District Court of Maryland, to implement the reforms mandated by the Consent Decree entered into between the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Justice.  

Before becoming Chief Counsel, Mr. Beck served as a Chief Solicitor and Assistant Solicitor in the Police Legal Affairs Division. In those roles, he represented the Department in federal, state and administrative proceedings. Prior to joining the Baltimore City Department of Law, Mr. Beck was an associate at boutique products liability firm, where he represented corporations in asbestos related litigation. Before that he served as prosecutor in the Office the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.  

Mr. Beck received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Towson University and his Juris Doctorate from University of Baltimore School of Law.  He lives in Lancaster County with his wife, Sara, and their four children. 




State System of Higher Education

Jeffrey B. Hawkins 
Acting Chief Counsel

Jeffrey B. Hawkins was appointed as Acting Chief Counsel to the State System of Higher Education and its constituent universities effective April 9, 2022.  Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hawkins served for nearly 20 years as primary University Legal Counsel for five of the State System universities and provided subject matter expertise to the Office of Legal Counsel in matters involving the First Amendment and intellectual property.

Before representing the State System of Higher Education, Mr. Hawkins was associate counsel for the Environmental Hearing Board, after completing a clerkship with the Honorable James R. Kelley of the Commonwealth Court.  Mr. Hawkins received a B.S.in Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law.



Department of Transportation

Donald J. Smith
Acting Chief Counsel

Donald J. Smith was appointed Acting Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in February 2022. Prior to his appointment, he was the Executive Deputy Chief Counsel, serving as chief administrator for three regional PennDOT legal offices that provide litigation and legal support services for forty-five (45) counties, as well as assisting the Chief Counsel in overall management of the office’s personnel and fiscal needs.  Don also supervised the Deputy Chief Counsel of the Driver and Vehicle Services, Real Property, General Law, and Highway Construction and Claims Divisions.  Additionally, Don managed PennDOT’s administrative docket program, serving as lead hearing officer.

Prior to his appointment as Executive Deputy, Don served as Deputy Chief Counsel of the office’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division assisting the client with driver licensing and motor vehicle registration matters.  Don was also appointed by the General Counsel to serve, and continues to serve, as a voting member of PennDOT’s Medical Advisory Board.

Prior to becoming Deputy Chief Counsel, Don was a member of the office’s Real Property Division, litigating before administrative tribunals, boards of view, and trials by jury in eminent domain condemnation proceedings. 

Before commencing his Commonwealth service with the Office of General Counsel in June 1988, Don served as an attorney with the Veterans Administration Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, DC.

Don is a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law and is a cum laude graduate of Villanova University holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.