Mayor signs free agents

The Dodgers didn't make any deals at the baseball trading deadline, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa added some key players today. Cecile Ablack is the new Deputy Mayor for Communications. She is a former Clinton Administration official who comes from a post at Yale. Maurice Suh is the deputy for homeland security and public safety; Nancy Sutley gets energy and environment; Kevin Acebo legislative and intergovernmental affairs. Karen Sisson comes on as Director of Finance and Performance Management. Bios provided by the mayor's office below the fold:



LOS ANGELES – Continuing to build a results-orientated administration inclusive of the best and brightest, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today announced key senior staff appointments who will oversee Homeland Security and Public Safety; Energy and the Environment; Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Communications as well as his Director of Finance and Performance Management.

The five new members of Mayor Villaraigosa’s administration – Deputy Mayor Maurice Suh, Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley, Deputy Mayor Kevin Acebo, Deputy Mayor Cecile Ablack and Director Karen Sisson – bring a breadth and depth of experience and talent to the Mayor’s team and a commitment to innovative, results-oriented and ethical work.

“In selecting my team, I looked for people who brought with them a passion for public service, the highest ethical standards and a commitment to improving the quality of life for all Angelenos,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “I am pleased that this diverse and impressive group of individuals has agreed to serve our city.”

Individual biographies follow:

Maurice Suh

Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety

Maurice Suh is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Howrey LLP. He focuses his practice on complex business litigation and also represents clients in conjunction with governmental compliance and enforcement actions.

Mr. Suh has appeared before numerous federal and state courts during pretrial, trial, and appellate proceedings, as well as commercial arbitration matters. He has handled complex civil litigation, on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants, in cases involving claims of antitrust, trademark and intellectual property infringement, identity theft, accountant malpractice, unfair competition, RICO and other business torts.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Suh served as a Deputy Chief of the Public Corruption and Government Fraud Section of the United States Attorney's Office in the Central District of California. While there, he prosecuted and supervised a number of public corruption and official misconduct cases against federal and state law enforcement officials, as well as a wide variety of fraud cases and environmental crimes cases.

Mr. Suh has received the Prosecutor of the Year Award (2001, International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, Southern California), as well as the Director's Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney, and numerous other awards from federal law enforcement agencies. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mr. Suh was a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he investigated and prosecuted police brutality and corruption cases, as well as racial violence cases.

Mr. Suh has lectured widely on legal and professional issues for the ABA, CEB, National Advocacy Center and federal law enforcement agencies on the subjects of trial advocacy, successful arbitration and mediation, internal investigations and matters involving corporate responsibility and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at both Loyola Law School and George Washington University National Law Center. Since 2002, he has served on the Blue Ribbon Rampart Panel.

Mr. Suh served as law clerk to the Honorable Charles E. Wiggins, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, from 1989 to 1990.

Maurice Suh graduated with a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1989. He also graduated with a B.A. in Political Science, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Columbia College of Columbia University in 1986.

Cecile Ablack

Deputy Mayor for Communications

Ms. Ablack has over twenty years experience developing and managing strategic direction, media relations, and crisis communications for government, corporate, and non-profit organizations in the United States and overseas.

In previous positions she oversaw global communications for the international division of the U.S. Department of Commerce; helped governments such as the Philippines, Mexico, and Jamaica attract private investment and increase tourism; handled large corporate advertising and public relations accounts; and directed external relations for the business school at Yale.

A senior official in the Clinton Administration, she worked for Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. At the Commerce Department, Ms Ablack was Director of Public Affairs and Congressional Relations for the International Trade Administration, the agency that encompassed global trade and investment. She was responsible for defining and building communications, congressional, and inter-governmental activities during an aggressive period promoting and protecting American business interests overseas.

At Yale, she was a key advisor to Dean Jeffery E. Garten. During her tenure, she oversaw a significant transformation of the school’s external relations profile and reputation in the United States and in Asia, Latin America, and Europe.

From 1982 to 1993, she worked for several multinational public affairs agencies and held senior positions in both New York City and Washington DC. !n 1984-1985, she lived in Kingston, Jamaica where she worked for the Office of the Prime Minister. In Jamaica, she managed a grassroots communications effort to involve rural communities in education, healthcare, voting rights, and tourism.

Ms. Ablack is a graduate of Yale University.

Nancy Sutley

Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment

Ms. Sutley has extensive experience in environmental public policy at the federal and state levels where she demonstrated an effective management record in complex environmental and program issues with diverse audiences.

Ms. Sutley currently serves on the California State Water Resources Control Board where she was confirmed by the California State Senate in 2003. The five-member, full-time board is responsible for protecting water quality and resources throughout California. Ms. Sutley oversaw the allocation and adjudication of water rights for public benefit and the protection of natural resources. The Water Board also developed statewide water protection plans, established water quality standards and implemented federal and state water quality laws.

From 2002 to 2003, Ms. Sutley served as Governor Gray Davis’ Energy Advisor where she managed state and federal regulatory, legislative, financial and press matters. In the Davis Administration, she also served as the Deputy Secretary for Policy and Intergovernmental Relations within the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a senior level appointee at the EPA, she advised on water and air pollution policy, lobbied federal agencies and Congress, and established budget and legislative priorities.

During President Clinton’s administration, Ms. Sutley served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Regional Administrator for Region 9 in San Francisco and a Special Assistant to the Administrator at the Federal Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC.

Ms. Sutley is received her Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Kevin Acebo

Deputy Mayor Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

For over 20 years Kevin Acebo has worked in the areas of public policy, public affairs and politics.

Since 2004, Mr. Acebo launched KMA Strategies, Inc., a political-communications strategy and business development firm with clients including the California Democratic Party and Bedrock Strategies, Inc.

From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Acebo has worked as the Statewide Political Director for the California Democratic Party responsible for developing the Party’s strategic year-around political agenda that includes generating and implementing issue-oriented media events, interfacing with the state’s Democratic elected leadership and allied interest groups including organized labor, the environmental, senior and disabled movements, community-based organizations, the faith community, women’s organizations and communities of color. During general election cycles, Mr. Acebo would assume the duties of Director of the California Coordinated Campaign, the Democratic Party’s statewide campaign organization.

From 1994 to 2000, Acebo served as Assistant Chief of Staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. While working for Supervisor Yaroslavsky, Mr. Acebo’s primary policy and budget responsibilities included oversight of the nation’s largest criminal justice system and elections operation, the state’s largest in-home supportive services authority serving over 100,000 seniors and caregivers, the County’s labor unions and local, state and federal intergovernmental issues.

From 1989 to 1994, Acebo owned KMA Associates, a political campaign and public affairs consulting firm. His clients included: Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, Assembly Members Terry Friedman, Barbara Friedman, Congressmen Xavier Becerra and Mel Levine, and Monrovia Mayor Lara Larramendi Blakely.

From 1981 to 1989, Acebo worked for Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr., as a principal Legislative Consultant developing district-based legislation and communications initiatives for Members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.

In 1979 Mr. Acebo worked as a Research Assistant for the White House Commission on the Review of the Federal Impact Aid Program and the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Mr. Acebo has served as the Chair of the Asian Pacific Caucus of the California Democratic Party, President of the Asian Pacific Democratic Club and National Committee Member for the California Young Democrats. Acebo was also selected as a social work fellow under the auspices of the Asian American Mental Health Training Center in Los Angeles and interned at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, Inc., a non-profit agency focused on Pilipino American youth issues and services.

Mr. Acebo graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern California.

Karen Sisson

Director of Finance and Performance Management

For the last nine years, Ms. Sisson has served as the Chief Financial Officer in the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Airports. At the Airport Department, Ms. Sisson was responsible for the development and implementation of an Interim Financial Plan following 9/11 which resulted in an “AA” rating by Standard & Poor’s, their first double-A rating of any general airport revenue bond. She also oversaw the implementation of a new financial and management information system and re-engineered the financial revenue management process. She managed a staff of 110 people in the Accounting Operations, Financial Reporting and Financial Planning Divisions and the Rates & Charges, Internal Audit and Debt Management Sections where she was responsible for an $800 million operating budget and a $1.4 billion capital improvement program spanning four airports --- LAX, Ontario, International, Palmdale regional and Van Nuys Municipal.

Ms. Karen Sisson worked as a Senior Finance Officer in the Department of Finance of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (“CRA/LA”) from May 1990 to August 1993. As the Senior Finance Officer, Ms. Sisson managed the finances for fourteen of CRA’s then seventeen redevelopment project areas. She analyzed the proformas on proposed commercial and affordable housing projects, reviewed OPAs and DDAs, and represented the CRA on the multi-agency budget task force. With her extensive experience, Ms. Sisson led budget workshops and made presentations to project area committees and to the Los Angeles City Council.

From 1993 to 1996, Ms. Sisson served as the Vice President in the Public Resources Advisory Group in Los Angeles where she successfully served clients including the Los Angeles International Airport, the Department of Water and Power and the cities of San Diego and San Jose.

Ms. Sisson also worked as an Assistant Treasurer for the City of Pasadena and Assistant Vice President for Chemical Bank in New York.

Ms. Sisson received her MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor Arts in International Relations from Pomona College.

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