Gov.-elect Northam announces picks for Secretary, Administration

Gov.-elect Ralph Northam introduces his latest administration appointments. WRIC Photo/Evanne Armour

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A quick glance around the Virginia State Capitol and it’s clear — change is coming.

The stage is being set for the upcoming inauguration while Gov.-elect Ralph Northam is setting things up behind the scenes.

On Thursday, he announced his latest appointments.

Kelly Thomasson will stay put as Secretary of the Commonwealth.

“She is no stranger to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Northam.

The Richmond native graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and worked for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) for 13 years.

Thomasson has served in the McAuliffe administration since 2014.

“It’s an honor to be asked to come back and serve Gov. Northam’s administration. I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to Virginia and really move us forward as a commonwealth,” she said.

One of her many duties as Secretary of the Commonwealth is overseeing rights restoration for felons.

Under Gov. McAuliffe, more than 169,000 of them got their voting rights back.

“Certainly Gov. McAuliffe has done amazing work on restoration of rights. As Gov.-elect Northam said, we’ll continue that work,” said Thomasson.

Traci DeShazor will also continue in her role as Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth.

There’s also a new face joining the team — Keyanna Conner has been chosen to serve as Secretary of Administration.

Keyanna Conner will serve as Secretary of Administration. WRIC Photo/Evanne Armour.

Conner, who grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, received her undergraduate degree in chemistry at Hampton University and her doctoral degree in organic chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Like Thomasson, Conner has worked for Warner. Right now, she is his State Director.

In her new role, she says she will oversee three departments — elections, general services and human resource management.

“For Human Resources, we’re basically the backbone of the state workforce,” she said. “So working really hard to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to support our state employees, to modernize and make sure that government is working as efficiently as possible.”

Conner said she is looking forward to the joining Northam’s team.

“I think it’s good work to be able to give back and know that you’re making a difference. Every day that I go into work, I know that I’m doing something to support the commonwealth,” she said.

Northam also took a moment to recognize the outgoing Secretary of Administration, Nancy Rodrigues.

“She has been a tremendous friend to me, a friend to Virginia and has done wonderful work as the Secretary of Administration and so I thank her for her service to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Northam also announced that Grindly Johnson will serve as Deputy Secretary of Administration. She was appointed Deputy Secretary of Transportation by McAuliffe in 2014.

Joe Damico (left) will serve as Director of General Services. WRIC Photo/Evanne Armour

Joe Damico will serve as Director of General Services. He has served as Deputy Director since 2002.

Northam still has a few more cabinet positions to announce in the next week or so. He also plans to unveil his legislative package after the new year.

The inauguration ceremony is Jan. 13.