Governor-elect Cox and Lt. Governor-elect Henderson announced 19 additional key cabinet and staff positions that will join the new administration. The appointees represent a range of diversity and bring both private and public sector experience to their new (and in some cases, continuing) roles. The first six were listed previously.. Here are the next six.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike has been named Commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department. He currently works as the southwest Utah operations director for SelectHealth, the health insurance division of Intermountain Healthcare. Pike’s career has focused on physician relations and contracting, broker relations, sales management, and government and community liaison. He has been a member of the National Association of Healthcare Underwriters and the Utah Association of Healthcare Underwriters for many years. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a Master’s of Business Administration.
Kirsten Rappleye will become the Director of First Lady Initiatives, overseeing the development and execution of Utah First Lady Abby Cox’s initiatives. Prior to this appointment Rappleye served as chief of staff to then Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox, coordinating his work on more than 30 boards and commissions and policy initiatives related to suicide prevention, mental health, homelessness, women’s leadership, opioid abuse prevention, rural economic development, volunteerism, STEM education and legislative relations.
Carlos M. Braceras will continue as the executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), a position he has held since May 2013. He is responsible for UDOT’s more than 1,700 employees and the design, construction and maintenance of Utah’s 6,000-mile system of roads and highways. Prior to joining UDOT in 1986, Braceras worked as a well-site geologist doing oil and gas exploration and development. He has bachelor’s degrees in Geology and civil engineering.
Cache County Executive Craig W. Buttars has been named as the Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Department divisions include the Office of the Commissioner, Administrative Services, Animal Industry, Cannabis Program, Conservation Division, Industrial Hemp Program, Laboratory Services, Plant Industry and Regulatory Services. Buttars has served previously in the Utah House, from 1997 to 2006, on the Cache County Council from 2008 to 2014 and was elected as Cache County’s Executive in 2014. He spent the majority of his career as a dairy farmer.
Thom Carter has been named the new executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development and the Governor’s Energy Advisor. He is currently the executive director of Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) and has extensive experience with infrastructure and environmental issues. At UCAIR, Carter sits on the Board of Governors for the Salt Lake Chamber, the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council and co-chairs the Healthy Salt Lake Steering Committee. Carter was named a Utah Business Forty under 40 in 2019. He attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Nubia Peña has been named the Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity and will continue in her role as the director of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs. Their mission is to promote an inclusive climate for Utah’s growing diverse community through training, outreach and youth leadership development. Peña is a former member of the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys where she advocated for youth rights during detention and delinquency proceedings. She is certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center as a Juvenile Training Immersion Program facilitator. In addition, Peña is a national consultant dedicated to bringing awareness to intersections of trauma and the School-to-Prison Pipeline and has served as the training and prevention education specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA). She received her J.D. in 2016.