Governor Newsom Announces Appointments 12.13.22

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the following appointments:

Mark M. Tollefson, 40, of Rancho Cordova, has been appointed Undersecretary at the California State Transportation Agency. Tollefson serves as Senior Counselor on Infrastructure and Fiscal Affairs in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, where he has been a Deputy Cabinet Secretary since 2019. Tollefson held several positions at the California Department of Finance from 2007 to 2019, including Assistant Program Budget Manager, Principal Program Budget Analyst III, Principal Program Budget Analyst II and Budget Analyst. Tollefson earned a Master of Business Administration degree from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $205,200. Tollefson is a Democrat.

Sabrina Ashjian, 43, of Camarillo, has been appointed to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Ashjian has been a Clinical Supervising Attorney in the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley since 2021. She was California State Director of the Humane Society of the U.S. from 2019 to 2021 and Chairperson of the Cannabis Control Appeals Panel from 2018 to 2019. She was a Deputy District Attorney at the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in the Consumer Fraud and Environmental Protection Unit from 2015 to 2018, an Associate at Stammer, McKnight, Barnum and Bailey LLP from 2014 to 2015 and a Public Defender at the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office from 2010 to 2014. Ashjian was an Attorney at the Amin Law Group Ltd. from 2009 to 2010. Ashjian is a board member of the American Red Cross Pacific Coast Region, National Women’s Political Caucus, California Lawyers Association Environmental Law Section, Emerge California and California Women Lead. Ashjian earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law, a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Pepperdine University Business School. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Ashjian is a Democrat.

Michal Kurlaender, 49, of Davis, has been appointed to the Education Commission of the States. Kurlaender has been a Professor at the University of California, Davis since 2016, where she has served in several positions since 2004 including Associate Professor and Assistant Professor. She has been Co-Director at Policy Analysis for California Education since 2009. Kurlaender was a Teaching Fellow and Researcher at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education from 1999 to 2004. She was a Researcher for the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University from 1997 to 2004. Kurlaender is a member of the National Academy of Education and Lead Researcher at Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research. She earned a Master of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University and a Doctor of Education degree in Education Policy from Harvard University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Kurlaender is a Democrat.