Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.

Mark Ghaly appointed secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS).  Ghaly, 44, of South Pasadena, has served as director of health and social impact for Los Angeles County since 2018. He was deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services overseeing community health and integrated programs from 2011 to 2018 and medical director for the Southeast Health Center, a San Francisco Department of Public Health clinic, from 2006 to 2011. Ghaly earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Public Health degree in health policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $209,943. Ghaly is a Democrat.

Eraina Ortega, 45, of Sacramento, has been appointed director of the California Department of Human Resources. Ortega has served as inspector general in the Office of Audits and Investigations at the California Department of Transportation since 2018. She was chief deputy director of policy at the California Department of Finance from 2013 to 2017. Ortega was a senior legislative representative at the California State Association of Counties from 2008 to 2013. She served as legislative advocate and manager at the Judicial Council from 2001 to 2008 and as a policy analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office from 1999 to 2001. Ortega earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $198,024. Ortega is registered without party preference.

Former RCRC County Supervisor Named Forest Task Force Leader

On Tuesday, Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery was appointed as the new leader of the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force (FMTF), taking over for Sierra Nevada Conservancy Board Chair Terrence O’Brien.  Montgomery, who served as District 5 Supervisor in Placer County for more than ten years, stepped down as Supervisor upon acceptance of her new position and will assume leadership of the FMTF immediately.

The Forest Management Task Force, of which RCRC is a member, was converted in June 2018 from the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force (TMTF), a statewide group formed in 2015 to confront the massive bark beetle epidemic killing more than 140 million trees in the Central and Southern Sierras.  While the focused efforts of the TMTF resulted in targeted tree removal projects in the most impacted counties, conversion of the group to a larger statewide, forest health emphasis left many counties feeling that the new FMTF lacked a clear set of goals and targets, particularly for local government involvement. Montgomery’s experience as a local elected official in a rural, heavily forested district will help bring focus to the group’s efforts as we continue to seek solutions to California’s forest health and wildfire problems.