Home Ralph Northam Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Announces Secretary, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade

Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Announces Secretary, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade


From the Gov.-elect Northam transition team:

Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Announces Administration Appointments

RICHMOND — Governor-elect Ralph Northam today announced at Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax key appointments within the Commerce and Trade secretariat and his plans for restructuring the Technology secretariat.

Esther Lee will join his administration as Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

Brian Ball will serve as Special Advisor to the Governor for Economic Development and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

Governor-elect Northam has made economic development and workforce training a priority for his Administration, and the announcements today show his commitment to attracting businesses and talent to the Commonwealth in order to ensure that every Virginian has access to a good-paying job.

“The New Virginia Economy is thriving, but it will take vision to ensure that it’s working as well as it should for everyone,” said Governor-elect Ralph Northam. “I’m confident the team I’m announcing today brings the right balance of private and public sector experience to grow and diversify our economy, attract and keep the best businesses here, and to make investments in critical areas like workforce development that will ensure Virginia’s economic growth for the long-term.”

In addition, the governor-elect announced today his plan to move responsibility for oversight of the Commonwealth’s technology systems and operations to the Secretary of Administration. A deputy secretary role will implement data sharing among agencies to improve performance and to open up more government data for public use, innovation, and state technology needs. Governor-elect Northam will also add a Deputy Secretary of Commerce & Trade for Technology and Innovation focused building out technology growth areas such as cybersecurity, unmanned systems, and smart cities, as well as efforts to promote entrepreneurship across the Commonwealth. These appointments will be announced at a later date.

Appointee Biographies

Esther Lee, Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Esther Lee is a strategic business leader with senior management experience in Fortune 500 companies and government. Esther has served as Global Chief Marketing and New Business Officer at Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest strategic communications firms. As a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, she led its marketing, thought leadership, and new business strategies and advised major clients like Coca-Cola and Marriott.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Esther as Senior Policy Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.  She created and led the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She also helped launch the White House “Startup America” initiative, organized the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, and served on the White House Urban Policy Council, Middle Class Taskforce, and the President’s Taskforce on Small Business Contracting.

Before her government service, Esther was a seasoned executive with over 15 years of experience in technology, media, and finance.  She was the Chief Marketing and Administrative Officer at a Fortune 500 financial services firm, where she led a new branding campaign. At Siemens, she launched the firm’s thought leadership program and managed key strategic marketing initiatives. At AOL/Time Warner, she created integrated marketing campaigns for clients like Home Depot and IBM. She started her career as a business and technology journalist at CNN.

Esther serves as Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and has been a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, and co-founder of the Council of Korean Americans. She received a Bachelor’s in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Brian Ball, Special Advisor to the Governor for Economic Development and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Brian Ball currently serves as vice president and general counsel at the law firm Williams Mullen. There, Brian is a business attorney concentrating his practice in mergers and acquisitions, securities laws and corporate governance matters. Brian serves as a trusted advisor to senior management, boards of directors, and audit and special board committees for his clients.

During his time with Williams Mullen he has worked on numerous economic development deals for companies locating and expanding in Virginia handling matters such as tax incentives, workforce development and power procurement. He regularly represents clients before state and federal administrative agencies and the Virginia General Assembly.

He has previously served on the boards of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia and Virginia Forever. He is a current member of the board of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Brian is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the UVa Law School.


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