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Office of Homeland Security Director Governor Tom Ridge
Announces Deputy Director and other Staff
Washington, D.C.
October 29, 2001

Governor Tom Ridge, the Director of the White House Office of Homeland Security, today announced several staff appointments including Admiral Steve Abbot to be Deputy Director of the Office of Homeland Security.

"I am pleased and gratified that these experienced individuals have agreed to serve their country at this critical time in the White House Office of Homeland Security. Each will play an important role in our coordinated approach to providing a seamless defense of America on the homefront," said Governor Ridge.

Abbot is currently serving as Executive Director of the Vice President's National Preparedness Review. Last May, the President asked the Vice President to review and make recommendations to strengthen preparedness against an act of domestic terrorism, particularly one using a weapon of mass destruction. Abbot led the staff that supported the Vice President in this effort.

The Naval Academy graduate and Rhodes Scholar served in the United States Navy from 1966 until his retirement as a four-star admiral in 2000. His final military assignment was serving as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the US European Command during the recent conflict in Kosovo. He was a naval aviator, commanding a carrier-based squadron and serving as a test pilot for the F-18 and other aircraft. He commanded the aircraft carrier THEODORE ROOSEVELT from 1990 to 1992, a period that included the Persian Gulf War. He subsequently commanded the Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group.

Admiral Abbot also served as the Deputy Director of Operations for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of the previous Bush administration and the outset of the Clinton administration and as Commander of the SIXTH Fleet.

Governor Ridge has named Mark A. Holman to be Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Holman served Governor Ridge during his time in the U.S. Congress as Chief of Staff and Administrative Assistant from 1983 to 1991 and in the Governor's Office as Chief of Staff until December 2000. Holman joins the White House from Blank, Rome, Comisky and McCauley in Washington, D.C.

Becky Halkias has been named Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the White House, Halkias served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Federal Affairs in Governor Ridge's Washington Office.

Carl M. Buchholz will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary for the Office of Homeland Security. Mr. Buchholz was previously Special Assistant to U.S. Senator John Heinz and joins the White House from Blank, Rome, Comisky and McCauley in Philadelphia.

Barbara Chaffee has been named Special Assistant to the President and Public Liaison for the Office of Homeland Security. Chaffee has served Governor Ridge since 1995, most recently as the Deputy Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Susan Neely will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for Homeland Security. Neely has served as the Senior Vice President for Communications of the Association of American Medical Colleges since 1996. From 1982 to 1987, she served Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as Press Secretary, Communications Director and then as Manager of the Governor's successful reelection campaign.

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