SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the following appointments:
Christine Birdsong, 48, of Lafayette, has been appointed Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Birdsong has been Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Director of People and Culture for the Sun Valley Rice Company since 2016. She was General Counsel for the National Cotton Council of America from 2011 to 2016, Counsel for the Committee on Agriculture for the United States House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010 and Federal Government Affairs Leader for CropLife America from 2004 to 2005. Birdsong earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $198,024. Birdsong is a Democrat.
Katrina Leni-Konig, 39, of El Dorado Hills, has been appointed Deputy Public Advisor for the California Energy Commission. Leni-Konig has been an Energy Resources Specialist III at the California Energy Commission since 2019. She was a Teacher at Mount Madonna School from 2015 to 2018. Leni-Konig held multiple positions at Pacific Gas and Electric, including Senior Engineer from 2014 to 2015 and Engineer from 2007 to 2013. She was a Project Engineer at Pacific Solar Radiant from 2006 to 2007. Leni-Konig earned a Master of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies degree in sustainability from Harvard University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $127,644. Leni-Konig is a Democrat.
Gregory Rose, 59, of Sacramento, has been appointed Assistant Director of Equity and Inclusion, Children and Family Services at the California Department of Social Services, where he has served in this role as acting since 2021. He was Deputy Director of the Children and Family Services Division at the Department of Social Services from 2008 to 2021, where he served as Assistant Deputy Director from 2007 to 2008. He was Chief of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention at the Department of Social Services from 2005 to 2007, where he was Chief of the Resources Development and Training Support Bureau from 2001 to 2005. Rose was a Staff Services Manager in the Foster Care Branch at the Department of Social Services from 1999 to 2001, where he was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst in 1999. He was a Social Services Consultant III in the Children Services Branch at the Department of Social Services from 1996 to 1999. He is a member of the Equity Advisory Board for the Child Welfare League of America and a member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. Rose earned a Master of Social Work degree from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $164,256. Rose is a Democrat.
Virginia Varela, 38, of Roseville, has been appointed Special Assistant to the Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency. Varela has been Staff Services Manager for the CalOHII HIPAA Compliance Program for the California Health and Human Services Agency since 2016. She held multiple positions at the California Health and Human Services Agency from 2001 to 2016, including Staff Services Manager III and I for the CalOHII Administration Division, Associate Governmental Program Analyst, Staff Services Analyst and Student Assistant. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $110,016. Varela is a Democrat.