Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Jason Pizatella as Acting Secretary of the Department of Administration on October 1, 2014. Prior to serving in this capacity, Secretary Pizatella was Governor Tomblin’s Deputy Chief of Staff and liaison to the State Legislature.
Within state government, Mr. Pizatella has served in various leadership positions including Acting Secretary of the Department of Revenue, Deputy State Tax Commissioner, and counsel to the State Senate Committee on Government Organization and Committee on Finance. Mr. Pizatella represents Governor Tomblin as his designee and Chairman of the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and West Virginia Parkways Authority. In his role as Secretary of Administration, Mr. Pizatella is Chairman of the PEIA Finance Board and State Personnel Board while also serving as a member of the Consolidated Public Retirement Board, Regional Jail Authority, and Capitol Building Commission. The Council of State Governments recently named Mr. Pizatella as a 2014 Henry Toll Fellow where he participated in one of the nation's premier leadership development and training programs for state government officials
Before beginning his tenure in state government, Mr. Pizatella practiced law in the private sector. A native of Fairmont, West Virginia, Mr. Pizatella is a 2007 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law and a 2004 graduate of the West Virginia University Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.
Deputy Secretary Mary Jane Pickens
Mary Jane Pickens was appointed Deputy Secretary for the Department of Administration. Pickens was also selected as Executive Director of the state’s Board of Risk and Insurance Management, beginning service on January 1, 2015.
Prior to this service, Pickens served as General Counsel of the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner from 2003 to 2011, and was employed by a Charleston law firm in the Government Relations and Regulatory Compliance Practice Group from 2011 through 2014. Prior to her public service, Pickens worked in private legal practice from 1985 to 2000.
A native of West Virginia, she graduated from West Virginia University in 1982 and earned her law degree from Ohio Northern University in 1985. She was admitted to practice law by the West Virginia State Bar that year. Pickens is admitted to practice before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Assistant Secretary Susannah Carpenter
Susannah Carpenter was appointed Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Administration, effective January 1, 2015. Carpenter joined the Finance Division of the Department of Administration in 2003.
She has since held various positions with the Department of Administration, including Assistant to the Comptroller and Interim Chief Technology Officer. A Certified Public Accountant, Ms. Carpenter’s previous experience also includes working as a research manager for the State Legislative Auditor’s office and as a senior accountant for a private auditing and consulting firm.
Carpenter graduated with honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Robert Paulson was appointed General Counsel for the Department of Administration in September 2009. Prior to his appointment, he was an attorney in private practice at a prominent firm in Charleston, WV, and served as Assistant General Counsel for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Mr. Paulson is a native of Washington, D.C. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia in 1989 and a master’s degree from Georgetown University in 1994. He received the degree of Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2002, Order of the Barristers.
Mr. Paulson was admitted to practice law by the West State Bar in September 2002, and is admitted to practice before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.
Deputy General Counsel & Legislative Liaison
Jennelle Jones was appointed Deputy General Counsel & Legislative Liaison of the Department of Administration on May 18, 2015. She previously served as Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Medical Services from April 2015 to May 2015.
Ms. Jones also served as co-counsel to the Committee on Finance and various minor committees in the House of Delegates from June 2008 through March 2015 and worked as an attorney for the State Tax Division from July 2006 to June 2008, primarily representing the agency in bankruptcy proceedings. She also has experience working in private law practice.
A native West Virginian, Ms. Jones received her bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University and her degree of Juris Doctor from WVU College of Law.
Director of Communications
Diane Holley-Brown has served as the communication director of the Department of Administration since 1994. She oversees all communication and public relations efforts for the department, including internal and external communication, publications, press releases, marketing strategies, and media relations.
Additionally, Ms. Holley-Brown serves as the Assistant Director of the West Virginia Purchasing Division for the Department of Administration, where she manages the Communication and Technical Services section. This section includes communication, technology, professional development and training, and administrative services.
With more than 28 years of state government experience within the Department of Administration, Ms. Holley-Brown earned a bachelor's degree with honors in journalism from Marshall University and a master’s degree in organizational communication from West Virginia University. She obtained her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) by the Universal Accreditation Board in 2014.
State ADA Coordinator
Former Cabinet Secretary Ross Taylor appointed Kim Nuckles as the State of West Virginia Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator on June 15, 2012. Prior to serving in this capacity, Kim worked in a private sector law firm for 11 years.
As the State ADA Coordinator, Ms. Nuckles’ responsibilities include advising, consulting and collaborating with state and federal agencies to develop comprehensive policies and programs to assure compliance with the federal ADA. She is also tasked with assisting state supervisory personnel with reasonable accommodation issues in the workplace.
Within state government, Ms. Nuckles serves in various capacities on the Access to Justice Subcommittee through the West Virginia State Bar, Cultural Facilities and Capitol Resources Grant Committee, Olmstead Council, Capitol Evacuation Team, Capitol Closed Point of Dispensing (CPOD) Committee, West Virginia Access and Functional Needs workgroup through the Center for Threat Preparedness and the National Federation for the Blind. She is also a member of the Leadership Network through the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Ms. Nuckles was appointed chair of the Governor’s Committee for the Purchase of Commodities and Services from the Handicapped on October 14, 2014.
A native of Benwood, West Virginia, Ms. Nuckles is a 2001 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law and a 1997 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Executive Assistant to the Secretary
Carol Nichols joined the Department of Administration as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary on December 1, 2014.
Prior to this role, Ms. Nichols worked for four years as the executive assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. She began her career in state government in December 1994 as the Administrative Secretary to the General Counsel in the Department of Revenue. During her tenure at the Department of Revenue, Ms. Nichols tracked legislation for the entire Department and its 10 agencies for over fifteen years. She also provided staff support for the Governor’s Committee on Fair Taxation, the Economic Development Grant Committee, and the Tax Modernization Project.
Ms. Nichols grew up in Dayton, Ohio, but has lived in Charleston since 1978. She has two sons and a granddaughter.
Joyce Jones has worked for the Secretary’s office since November 2006 as the paralegal for the Secretary’s general counsel. She also currently serves as the Executive Secretary and Office Manager for the Secretary’s office.
Born in Scranton, PA, Ms. Jones moved from Buffalo, NY, to West Virginia in 1977. She attended Huntington Business College and began her career as a court reporter. Ms. Jones has also worked as a legal secretary for a private legal practice, a prominent corporate firm, and as a legal assistant for a local personal injury firm before coming to work for state government.
Leslie Townsend joined the Secretary's Office on January 16, 2015. After attending West Virginia State University, Ms. Townsend started her career as a legal assistant at a local law firm in 2001. In 2013, she accepted a position in state government as a legal assistant for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
A resident of Elkview, Ms. Townsend has one daughter.