Interior Department Welcomes Additional Members of Agency Leadership

Last edited 07/12/2021

Date: Monday, April 12, 2021 

WASHINGTON –The Department of the Interior today announced additional members of agency leadership working to steward America’s public lands and waters, pursue environmental justice, and honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes.

“The Department of the Interior is in a unique position to be a leader in putting our nation on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, create good-paying jobs in the renewable energy sector, and benefit underserved communities – and that work wouldn’t be possible without our talented and diverse team putting in the work for an equitable and clean energy future,” said Jennifer Van der Heide, Chief of Staff. “I’m so proud to welcome our newest colleagues to the team, and I have full confidence in their ability to carry out Interior’s mission.”

Interior’s political team proudly reflects the diversity of America, with more than 50% identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and 75% as women.

The appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Heather Barmore – Director of Digital Strategy
  • Elizabeth (Liz) Klein – Senior Counselor to the Secretary
  • Giovanni Rocco – Deputy Press Secretary
  • Felicia Salazar – Speechwriter
  • Raina Thiele – Senior Advisor for Alaska Affairs and Strategic Priorities

Biographies are listed below:

Heather Barmore – Director of Digital Strategy

Heather Barmore is a digital communications professional who most recently served as Editorial Director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). Prior to joining PIC, she served as Editorial Director for the Biden-Harris campaign, where she led online storytelling and narrative building across digital platforms. Heather also held positions as Director of Digital Communications for Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Senior Advisor for Digital for NARAL Pro-Choice America. She has a degree in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government (CLEG) from American University. A native of upstate New York, Heather resides in Washington, DC.

Elizabeth (Liz) Klein – Senior Counselor to the Secretary

Liz Klein is an experienced attorney who specializes in clean energy, climate change, and environmental issues. She has previously served at Interior, most recently as Interior’s associate deputy secretary as well as principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Policy, Management and Budget. Before then, Liz was an attorney at Latham & Watkins specializing in energy and environmental law issues, and a law clerk at the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and its Environmental Enforcement Section. She graduated from the George Washington University with an economics degree and received her JD from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Giovanni Rocco – Deputy Press Secretary

Giovanni Rocco most recently served as Regional Press Secretary with Biden for President North Carolina where he led media operations and directed the campaign's Spanish-language media strategies. Before the campaign, he served as Senior Communications Associate at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, crafting messaging for a diverse economic policy portfolio. Prior to that, he was part of the Center for American Progress where he worked with young people to uplift their voices in the media. Giovanni immigrated with his family to the United States from Chile at the age of nine. He holds dual degrees in Media Studies and Political Science from Florida State University.

Felicia Salazar – Speechwriter

Born and raised in New Mexico, Felicia Salazar most recently served as Communications Director for Rep. Deb Haaland in the House of Representatives, where she leveraged breaking news, ran press outreach, managed social media, and led national and local communication strategy. Through her previous roles in the Albuquerque Mayor’s Office, New Mexico State Legislature, Democratic Party of New Mexico and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich’s Office, she carries a specific expertise in messaging on climate change, Indian Country, and working family priorities. The first in her family to graduate from college, Felicia is a proud University of New Mexico alumna.

Raina Thiele – Senior Advisor for Alaska Affairs and Strategic Priorities

Raina Thiele served as Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama-Biden White House. She also served at the Office of Management and Budget where she worked on a variety of energy and international issues. She received her Master in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and her Bachelors degree from Yale College. She was born and raised in Alaska and her family hails from Pedro Bay village on Lake Iliamna in the Bristol Bay region and Alexander Creek near Mount Susitna. She is Dena’ina Athabascan and Yup’ik and an enrolled member of Pedro Bay village.   


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