Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez
Robert J. Rodriguez is currently serving as the Secretary of State. He was nominated by Governor Kathy Hochul to serve as New York’s 68th Secretary of State. Mr. Rodriguez is a uniquely accomplished leader and former legislator, with civic and legislative successes that have been focused strategically on investing in and developing public-good infrastructure projects, creating good-paying jobs and addressing financial disparities for historically underrepresented minorities and low-income communities.
Brendan C. Hughes
Executive Deputy Secretary of State
In 2019, Brendan C. Hughes was appointed Executive Deputy Secretary of State at the New York State Department of State. A native of Delmar, NY, Mr. Hughes has served in various roles to advance strategic energy, economic development, technology, and other policy and program initiatives in New York State for over 15 years. Most recently, he played a vital operational role during the COVID-19 Global pandemic in setting up testing sites and later, vaccination sites across New York State.
Mr. Hughes began his career in public service as an intern with the Executive Chamber. While at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, he helped launch the inaugural Regional Economic Development Councils and Consolidated Funding Application which has helped a vast spectrum of businesses, community, and economic development organizations access critical economic development support. Mr. Hughes continued his public service career serving as Deputy Commissioner at Empire State Development and then Assistant Secretary for Economic Development in the Executive Chamber. Previously, Mr. Hughes served as the Deputy Secretary for General Government and Technology in the Executive Chamber. He holds a BA in Political Science from Siena College.
Assistant Executive Deputy Secretary of State
James Leary serves as the Assistant Executive Deputy Secretary of State, where he works within the executive office to provide administration and management support to all areas of Department of State operations. James is an attorney with over a decade of experience within the Department’s Office of General Counsel. James is admitted to the New York State Bar and the Supreme Court of the United States. James has also served as an Appellate Court Attorney with the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, and in the private sector as an in-house corporate counsel.
James lives with his family in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is a graduate of Albany Law School and SUNY Plattsburgh. James volunteers as an attorney advisor for the Saratoga Springs Senior High School Mock Trial team, and as a youth basketball coach at the Saratoga Springs YMCA and the Saratoga Springs Recreation Center.
Chief of Staff
Joanne Fernandez serves as the Chief of Staff for the New York Department of State. In this role, she provides strategic guidance and advice to the Secretary of State and members of the Executive Management Team to help the Department strengthen its capabilities and accomplish its mission.
Prior to joining the New York Department of State, Ms. Fernandez cultivated, managed, and implemented government relations, legislative, regulatory, and public policy strategies within the private sector. Ms. Fernandez began her professional career in the public sector where she held numerous positions focusing on policy, communications, and intergovernmental affairs with the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate, and the Governor’s Office.
Actively involved in the community, Ms. Fernandez has been recognized for her accomplishments and outstanding service by the Volunteer Center of the United Way; the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the American Red Cross; City & State Above & Beyond; and others.
A native New Yorker and proud first-generation college graduate, Ms. Fernandez graduated magna cum laude with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Latin American Studies from the University at Albany.
Acting General Counsel
David González serves as the Acting General Counsel for the New York State Department of State. As Acting General Counsel, David oversees the Office of General Counsel, which provides legal support to the New York Secretary of State and the diverse programs, divisions, boards, and commissions housed within the Department of State. Through this work, David has assisted with the enactment of new laws, including electronic notarization, electronic service of process, and “Words Matter” legislation replacing the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” to “noncitizen” and “undocumented noncitizen” in all New York State laws; as well as implementation of new laws, such as the law creating the body armor eligible professions program.
Prior to serving with DOS, David served as the primary land use attorney for the City of Albany, working with the City’s Building Department, Planning Department, and Zoning Board of Appeals. David also had extensive criminal litigation experience, having served for ten years prosecuting as an Assistant District Attorney with the Schenectady and Albany County District Attorney’s Offices, as well as a defense attorney in private practice. David graduated from Albany Law School and has been a New York State licensed attorney since January 2000. David appreciates practicing government law to engage in creative problem solving and to help provide the public with the efficient, professional government services it deserves.
In his free time, David likes to coach his kids in sports, mountain bike, and take on home improvement projects.
Deputy Secretary of State for Business Development
As the Deputy Secretary of State for Business Development, Whitney Clark oversees the Division of Licensing Services and the Division of Corporations, State Records and UCC. The Division of Licensing Services regulates close to 900,000 occupational licensees and the Division of Corporations, State Records and UCC serves as the filing office for 2.7 million corporations and other business entities doing business in New York. Whitney works with staff, government partners and other stakeholders to craft policy and initiatives that serve the interests of those doing business with the Department of State.
A graduate of Albany Law School, Whitney is a former litigator with the Department of State and with law-firms in the Capital Region and metropolitan NYC area. Whitney is an eighteen-year veteran with the Department of State, where she has represented the Division of Licensing Services at administrative hearings, overseen the Division’s litigation unit and served as the Director of the Division of Licensing Services. Whitney was born and raised in the Adirondack Park where her family has resided for eight generations.
Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government
Mark P. Pattison was appointed by Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez as the Deputy Secretary for Local Government at the Department of State. He has previously served as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities
Mr. Pattison also previously served as a Deputy Comptroller for the Office of the State Comptroller.
As Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government, Mr. Pattison oversees the Division(s) of Local Government Services, Building Standards and Codes, Cemeteries and other duties as assigned. He is the Governor’s Alternate for two federal Commissions, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Northern Borders Regional Commission (NBRC).
Mr. Pattison has spent many years in public service. He was Mayor of the City of Troy from 1996 through 2003. Mr. Pattison worked at the Rensselaer County Chapter of the Association for Retarded Citizens for 20 years, including 12 years as its Director of Residential Services.
He served as Vice-President of the City of Troy's School Board, President of Vanderheyden Hall, Vice-Chair of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chairperson of the Hudson Mohawk Heritage Area Commission and President of the New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies. He was a trustee and faculty member of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and has served on many community boards, including the Center for Economic Growth, the Troy Rehabilitation Improvement Program (TRIP) and the Commission for Economic Opportunity.
Mr. Pattison studied political science, economics and urban policy at the State University of New York at Oswego. He has a Masters Degree in Organization and Management from Antioch University, Antioch New England Graduate School. He lives on Troy’s East Side with his wife, Laura Amos, and has two children, Edward and Mary.
Deputy Secretary of State for Strategic Initiatives
Working within the Executive Office, Chuck works to research, analyze, address and implement projects and initiatives identified by agency executives as mission critical priorities, and serves as a trusted advisor to the Secretary of State and executive staff, working closely with agency program managers and administrators to coordinate resources across the agency to effectively achieve desired outcomes. In his role, he provides operational and implementation support of agency initiatives, Executive Chamber directives, and administrative functions.
Chuck initially joined state service with the Department of Health as a Public Management Intern, and has spent the past 26 years in progressively responsible administrative and managerial roles, including positions focused on human resources, operations management, and program administration. He joined the Department of State in 2019 as Director of Human Resources, and left briefly to serve in the Executive Chamber as their first Director of Human Resources, from late 2021 to early 2023. He returned to DOS in a new role that allows him to utilize his extensive governmental background to support priority agency goals and initiatives. He earned his B.A. in Criminal Justice from SUNY Plattsburgh, and his M.P.A., with a concentration in HR Management, from UAlbany’s Rockefeller College.
A native of Dutchess County, Chuck has called the Capital Region home since 1994.
Deputy Secretary for Agency Transformation and External Affairs
Matt Tebo joined the DOS team in the summer of 2007. From 2007 until 2017, he served as the Department’s Legislative Counsel and its Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Demonstrating an aptitude for process re-engineering and an in-depth understanding of the Department’s many functions, Matt became the Deputy Secretary for Agency Transformation and External Affairs in 2017.
In this role, Matt leads a team that focuses on adding efficiency to the Department’s processes, while designing and deploying transformative information technology systems. Besides efficiency of function, this team seeks to create platforms that also provide better services to the People of the State of New York. In 2021, Matt is proud that the Department was able to replace its 40-year-old DOS Corps system with an efficient alternative that allows businesses to form online in many instances. The team continued its success in 2022 and 2023, launching state-of-the-art systems related the service of process, notarial licensure, and not-for-profit oversight. Matt also serves as the designated chairperson of the NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code Council, the body statutorily responsible for updating the State’s Building, Fire, and Energy Codes.
Prior to coming to DOS, Matt served in the New York State Assembly as the Assistant Counsel to the Majority Leader and Assistant Floor Counsel. In that role, he worked closely with Majority Leaders Paul Tokasz and Ron Canestrari on floor operations, including as parliamentarian when needed.
Matt is a graduate of Albany Law School and Skidmore College.
In his free time, Matt trains for and competes in Ironman 70.3s as well as short- and intermediate-distance triathlons. He currently lives in Clifton Park with his wife of 17 years and two children.
Deputy Secretary of State for Public Affairs
Prior to joining DOS, she served as Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Operations at the Office of General Services overseeing all external and internal communications. Her portfolio included the Press Office, Digital and Media Services Center, Convention and Cultural Events and the Curatorial and Visitor Services programs. She also served as liaison with the Office of the Governor on events, equipment and facility needs and operations.
Before her time at OGS, she was the Deputy Communications Director for the Governor’s office managing 12 state agency communication offices, including DOS, as part of the economic development portfolio.
Michelle served as Press Officer for the Office of the Attorney General. In 2009, she began her state service career with the New York State Department of Labor at the height of the recession where she led outreach and marketing efforts to help the growing number of unemployed New Yorkers get unemployment benefits and jobs.
Prior to state service, Michelle spent nearly 20 years in various positions in television news including reporter, Executive Producer and Assistant News Director.
Zoila Del Castillo
Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity
Zoila Del Castillo serves as Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity with the New York State Department of State. In this capacity, Zoila oversees the Office of Administrative Hearings, the Office for New Americans, the Division of Consumer Protection, and the Division of Community Services. Zoila is also the Secretary of State’s designee to the Committee on Open Government.
Prior to her appointment, Zoila served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau at the Office of the New York State Attorney General. In this role, Zoila prosecuted and investigated complex financial crimes, including securities, insurance, and tax fraud as well as unlicensed practice. In addition to these duties, she also served as a member of the Attorney General’s Diversity Committee.
Zoila previously served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office where she handled a caseload on a variety of criminal matters and conducted numerous jury trials involving Burglary, Assault, and Criminal Possession of Weapon. She also had the unique opportunity to prepare and successfully argue an appeal on a Murder conviction before the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department.
Zoila currently serves as Co-Chair of the LatinoJustice’s Líderes Young Professionals Board where she supports the organization’s mission to advocate for equitable and accessible justice and fostering the next generation of civic leaders. For her commitment to making an impactful contribution to our communities, Zoila has been recognized with the American Bar Association 2021 On the Rise – 40 Top Young Lawyers Award, Crain’s New York Business 2021 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Champion of Change Award, the Prospanica New York 2021 Top Latinx Leaders Award, and was selected as a 2021 fellow of the Council of Urban Professionals.
Zoila holds a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in Government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
As the Deputy Secretary of State for Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure, Kisha Santiago is at the forefront of efforts to advance sustainable, equitable and resilient development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate resiliency and protect and restore the State's coastal and ocean ecosystems.
Kisha oversees the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI); New York Forward (NYF), Smart Growth, Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA); Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP); South Shore Estuary Reserve; and Coastal Lakeshore Economy and Resiliency (CLEAR) Initiative. She also oversees the New York State Coastal Management Program including the NYS CZM federal coastal consistency review authority, and the advancement of federal, regional, and state Ocean and Great Lakes policy initiatives to meet the State’s complementary goals of renewable energy generation, resource protection, and economic activity .
Prior to joining the DOS, Kisha served in the Governor’s Executive Chamber as Assistant Secretary for Housing, Assistant Commissioner at Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), as an affordable housing developer and in general management in the private sector, and as a program developer for a youth training and affordable housing construction non-profit. Kisha is a native of Queens now residing in the Capital Region with her partner and two children.
Whether implementing plan-then-act strategies to empower equitable community revitalization or developing synergistic environmental and economic benefits that mitigate concerns, the broad-based programs that Ms. Santiago administers at the DOS have a profound and lasting impact on New York State’s communities, economies, and ecosystems
Chief Administrative Officer
As the Chief Administrative Officer, LuAnn I. Hart manages statewide administrative operations and oversees the Bureau of Financial Management, Bureau of Human Resource Management, and the Bureau of Administrative Support Services. LuAnn works closely with the DOS Executive team to facilitate agency priorities maximizing on a variety of state and federal resources to achieve the eclectic mission of the agency. She also serves as the agency’s Procurement Officer overseeing more than $600 million in annual procurements and more than $1 billion in agency contracts and funding. LuAnn joined DOS in 2010 as Supervisor of Contract Administration and was promoted to Director of Fiscal Management in 2014.
Prior to joining the Department of State, she worked for the New York State Department of Health for more than 18 years overseeing agency procurements and administration of public health programs. In 2001 she accepted a position to administer state and federal funding in support of West Nile Virus Surveillance, and later Bioterrorism planning and response. LuAnn holds an M.B.A. from Clarkson University (formerly Union Graduate College) and attended Siena College where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Management.
LuAnn is a lifelong resident of the Capital District and has been married to her husband for 35 years; they have three children.
Director of Government Relations
In 2017, Justin Cartwright joined the Department of State as the Director of Government Relations. Prior to joining the Department of State Justin served as Director of Legislative Affairs at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Justin began his state service in 2004 working for the New York State Assembly Communications and Information Services Office in various roles. During this time, he also worked for the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee as a Field Operative and later as a Political Director.
At DOS Justin serves as the point of contact for state and local elected officials as well as special interests who are requesting an audience with the Department. This role involves resolving constituent inquires, answering questions about Department programs/regulations and assisting with legislative initiatives being proposed or enacted. Additionally, he serves as the Departments liaison between other agencies when a multiple agency response is needed.
Justin resides in East Greenbush with his wife Jessica and their twin boys.