Doan’s staff selections align with objectives

John Phelps, most recently the Arizona Red Cross’ chief operating officer, will become the General Services Administration’s chief of staff July 3.

GSA announced Phelps' appointment Wednesday. Lurita Doan, the agency's new administrator, also picked several other key leaders that were announced at the same time.

Kevin Messner, chief of staff for the retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), will be associate administrator for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. He starts June 26. Susan Peppler was named senior adviser for intergovernmental affairs. Although just announced, her appointment became effective May 8.

Doan earlier chose Jim Williams to be commissioner of the newly formed Federal Acquisition Service. Williams currently heads the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program.

Doan noted Phelps’ background in emergency management and disaster recovery. Before his work at the Red Cross, he was the deputy director of the Arizona Office of Homeland Security. He led efforts within the office to give more support to first-responder organizations. He also served as a colonel in the Army.

At her May 22 confirmation hearing, Doan said she planned to improve GSA’s response in emergency situations.

“The recent disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina showed an area where GSA has an opportunity to truly lead by example, and do some good in the process,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Doan grew up in New Orleans' 9th Ward, which Katrina devastated in 2005.

Doan’s other staffing selections echo her efforts to keep Congress informed about her work at GSA. She promised “clear and frequent communications” with Capitol Hill. Staffing the congressional affairs office will help her in that effort, especially with Messner's Capitol Hill experience.

Before heading Kolbe’s staff, Messner helped shape Kolbe’s legislation on appropriation and immigration issues. He also worked as chief of staff for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.).

Peppler served as mayor of Redlands, Calif. She also played an important role in developing the Governmental Partnership Program for the League of California Cities.

“Her expertise will be essential as GSA works to advance and fortify its relationships within the government, especially with our customer agencies,” Doan said.

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