07 December 2021, Washington: The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold key staff positions.
Sean Babington was named Senior Advisor for Climate in the Office of the Secretary
Most recently, Babington served as Senior Professional Staff to Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where he handled committee business pertaining to forestry, pesticides, and climate change. Prior to joining the Committee, he worked in the office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado as Senior Policy Advisor for Energy and Natural Resources; he is also an adjunct lecturer for Georgetown University’s Environmental Studies program. Babington holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master’s in policy management from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Anne Knapke was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Office of the Secretary
Since joining the Biden-Harris Administration in February 2021, Knapke has served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations at USDA. She was previously a Senior Program Officer focusing on nutrition and agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to working at the Gates Foundation, Knapke served as Legislative Director for Senator Amy Klobuchar. Knapke holds a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University and master’s degrees in public policy and social service administration from the University of Chicago.
Bidisha Bhattacharyya was named Senior Advisor for Climate and Conservation for Farm Production and Conservation
Since joining the Biden-Harris Administration in February 2021, Bhattacharyya has served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Farm Service Agency. Previously, she served as director for Climate and Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress and Vice President of Emerging Markets at the impact-investment firm Village Capital. Bhattacharyya spent three years deploying solar energy solutions in rural India with the technology startup Simpa Networks and four years on Capitol Hill as Senior Energy and Agriculture Policy Adviser to Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and as Energy and Agriculture Legislative Assistant for Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from St. Olaf College.
Cecilia Hernandez will serve as Designated Federal Officer for the USDA Equity Commission
With nine years of federal service under her belt, Hernandez returns to USDA where she will play an instrumental role in governance of the USDA Equity Commission. Most recently Hernandez spent the past several years with the General Services Administration’s Office of Governmentwide Policy as a Program Manager on the President’s Management Agenda Team where she was responsible for leading the coordination and development efforts of the President’s Management Agenda. Prior to her time at GSA, she served in Office of Budget and Program Analysis at USDA. Hernandez received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Spanish from Ursinus College and a Master of Public Administration in Urban and Regional Affairs, Development Planning and Environmental Sustainability from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
“As we recommit ourselves to the values of equity and inclusion and work to ensure farmers, ranchers, and producers are successful in responding to the climate crisis, these dedicated, well qualified individuals will play significant roles in moving forward USDA’s priorities in these areas and more,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.