Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2017

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The latest on Gibbons’ office reorganization

Here’s more information about what we posted earlier today:

Dianne Cornwall will leave the governor's office but will take over for Mendy Elliott, current director of the Department of Business and Industry.

Elliott will become deputy chief of staff to the governor. As expected Josh Hicks is promoted to chief of staff.

Here's the full release:


(Carson City, NV) – Governor Jim Gibbons today announced several changes to his staff, including the departure of Chief of Staff Michael Dayton and Chief Operating Officer Dianne Cornwall.

Other changes include the appointment of General Counsel Josh Hicks as the Governor’s new Chief of Staff, the appointment of Mendy Elliott as Deputy Chief of Staff, the elevation of Press Secretary Ben Kieckhefer to Communications Director and the departure of Nick Vander Poel, Director of Boards and Commissions.

Gibbons praised the hard work and dedication all departing staff members have shown him during his time as Governor. Dayton intends to return to private sector government affairs work, an area where he achieved great success prior to becoming Chief of Staff. His resignation will be effective July 18.

“Mike has been a loyal, trusted and dedicated Chief of Staff,” the Governor said. “The opportunity for Mike to serve in state government over the past 18 months has given him the ability to work closely on some of the most important issues confronting our state, including transportation and energy. He has a strong passion for public policy issues and I am confident that he will have a great career when he returns to the private sector. My staff and I will continue to seek his valued advice and guidance.”

Dayton said he’s thankful for the opportunity to have served the people of Nevada, but also looks forward to his return to the private sector.

“Nevada has many fine and hardworking state employees and I was honored to work with them on confronting the challenges facing our state,” Dayton said. “I am very appreciative of the relationships that I established with department heads, as well as gubernatorial staffs around the nation. Finally, I would like to thank the Governor for the valuable experience I gained in my roll as chief of staff, and I wish the Governor and his staff well.”

Cornwall will be replacing Mendy Elliott as Director of the Department of Business and Industry.

“Dianne is an incredibly talented leader and manager, and she will be a perfect fit for the Department of Business and Industry,” the Governor said. “Dianne helped lead my office through our successful 2007 Legislative Session, has managed the day-to-day operations of my Cabinet and been the point person in my office for most state business. While her departure is a loss to my office, her vast experience in both government and business makes her a perfect person to lead B and I.”

Cornwall said she’s looking forward to the challenge of leading a state agency, particularly one as critical to the future of our state as Business and Industry.

“It is the people and businesses of Nevada that have ultimately built our great state into what it is today,” Cornwall said. “As the head of the state agency that regulates these businesses, I will work diligently to ensure the best interests of the people are looked after. It will be a tremendous challenge considering the ongoing growth of Nevada, and I look forward to taking it on as the next logical step in my career.”

Elliott will be joining the Governor’s staff as Deputy Chief of Staff after running the Department of Business and Industry for the first 18 months of the Governor’s term.

“During Mendy’s tenure at B and I, she has shown tremendous leadership and management skills, and I’m glad she will now bring that skill set to my office,” the Governor said. “She has accomplished a great deal there, and she is turning over an excellent department.”

“I’ve had a 20-year working relationship with the Governor and I’m pleased he has the faith in me to help champion his efforts for our great state,” Elliott said. “Nevada is fortunate to have a Cabinet comprised of very talented and dedicated individuals, all of whom I am looking forward to working with closely.”

Vander Poel has decided to seek opportunities outside the Governor’s office and will be moving to a position as a Program Director at the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

“Nick has done an absolutely tremendous job ensuring our boards and commissions are filled with talented people,” the Governor said. “He will be a great asset to Economic Development.”

After serving as General Counsel and Deputy Chief of Staff, Hicks will be taking over as Chief of Staff and working with Dayton during his transition back to the private sector.

“I’m very happy that Josh has agreed to serve as my next Chief of Staff,” the Governor said. “This is a logical progression for him and I have every confidence he will do a great job.”

Similarly, elevating Ben Kieckhefer to the position of Communications Director recognizes the work he is already doing and is, according to Governor Gibbons, “a well-deserved promotion to an excellent member of our staff.”

In announcing the changes, the Governor emphasized the logical progression of turnover within governors’ administrations.

“Working for the Governor of any state is a high-stress job that requires just about everything a person has to give,” Gibbons said. “I fully respect the demands this type of work puts on people, which is why turnover is a normal part of any administration. I again thank everyone who has worked with me for their service to the state of Nevada, and I appreciate the willingness of those moving up to take on the challenge.”

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