Several Alumni Take On Executive, Judicial Posts in New Administration

UVA Law alumni

Alumni taking on new positions include (top) Brig. Gen. Robert A. Borcherding ’99, Bill Nelson ’68, Robin Carnahan ’86, Chris Kavanaugh ’06 and David Turk ’99; and (bottom) Deborah Boardman ’00, Toby Heytens ’00, Lauren King ’08, Patricia Tolliver Giles ’98 and Michael S. Nachmanoff ’95.

December 13, 2021

President Joe Biden chose several University of Virginia School of Law alumni to fill high-profile positions in the executive branch and in the courts this year, in roles that require Senate confirmation.

Executive Branch

Robert A. Borcherding ’99 was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Borcherding has served in the U.S. Army for 28 years, including as staff judge advocate in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other legal assignments included tours as a legal adviser for U.S. Africa Command; group judge advocate for the 10th Special Forces Group; deputy staff judge advocate for the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley; and trial counsel and senior trial counsel for the 21st Theater Support Command in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Robin Carnahan ’86 is now administrator of the General Services Administration. Carnahan served as secretary of state of Missouri from 2016-20, and directed the state and local government practice at 18F, a tech consultancy inside the GSA that she founded. Through her work with the GSA, Carnahan helped federal, state and local government agencies improve customer-facing digital services and cut costs, according to a press release. As secretary of state, Carnahan served as the state’s chief election official and state securities regulator, and was responsible for providing in-person and online services to hundreds of thousands of customers.

Chris Kavanaugh ’06 was confirmed as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia. He previously served as assistant U.S. attorney for the district from 2014-21. He has also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and as senior counsel for the U.S. deputy attorney general. Kavanaugh has taught federal criminal practice and trial advocacy as a lecturer at UVA Law. He received the school’s Shaping Justice Award for Extraordinary Achievement in 2020.

Bill Nelson ’68 became NASA’s administrator. Nelson, who formerly served on the NASA Advisory Council, was a U.S. senator from Florida from 2001-2019 after serving as state treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal for six years. He also was elected to six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979-1991. In 1986, he flew on the 24th flight of the space shuttle Columbia, orbiting the Earth 98 times over six days. Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments, including the first U.S. stress test in space and a cancer research experiment.

Doug Parker ’97 leads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. He previously served as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health since 2019. Prior to his appointment to Cal/OSHA, Parker was executive director of Worksafe, an Oakland, California-based legal services provider. He also served in the Obama administration as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, and was a member of the Biden administration transition team focused on worker health and safety issues. He has held positions as a senior policy adviser and special assistant at the Department of Labor.

Gary M. Restaino ’96 is U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. Formerly an assistant U.S. attorney, he has held various leadership positions in the office, including chief of the Criminal Division from 2012-16 and chief of the White Collar Crime Section from 2008-09. From 2009-10, Restaino was detailed as a trial attorney to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. Restaino was a civil rights lawyer at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from 1999-2003 and previously represented migrant and seasonal farmworkers at Community Legal Services Inc. He also served with the Peace Corps in Paraguay from 1991-93 before law school.

David Turk ’99 became deputy secretary of energy. Turk was previously deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency, helping countries worldwide on their clean-energy transitions. He has also directed analysis focused on digitalization and energy, hydrogen and tracking progress on a wide range of clean-energy technologies. Turk served as deputy on the Energy Agency Review Team during the Biden administration transition, which provided recommendations across the full range of Department of Energy issues and offices. In the Obama administration, Turk worked in the department coordinating international technology and clean-energy efforts.

Federal Courts

Deborah Boardman ’00 was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. A former U.S. magistrate judge, Boardman spent 11 years as a member of the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Maryland, where she was named first assistant federal public defender in 2015. She previously spent six years in Hogan Lovell’s pro bono department.

Patricia Tolliver Giles ’98 was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She had served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2003 and served as managing assistant U.S. attorney. She previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Major Crimes Unit from 2003-2019. Giles also served on the attorney general’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, MS-13 Subcommittee. From 2000-03, she was an associate at Cooley Godward.

Toby J. Heytens ’00, a former UVA Law professor, was confirmed as a judge on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was on leave from the Law School from February 2018 to August of this year to serve as Virginia’s solicitor general. Heytens first joined the faculty in 2006 and then rejoined in 2010 after taking leave for three years to serve in the Office of the U.S. Solicitor General, during which he argued six cases before the Supreme Court.

Lauren King ’08 was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. King, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation based in Oklahoma, had been an attorney at Foster Garvey and served as a pro tem appellate judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System. She previously taught Federal Indian Law at the Seattle University School of Law. She is the sixth Native American federal judge in U.S. history and the first in Washington state history.

Michael S. Nachmanoff ’95 was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He had served as a U.S. magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015. Before his appointment to the bench, Nachmanoff served for 13 years in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving as chief federal public defender from 2007-2015, acting federal public defender from 2005-07 and first assistant public defender from 2002-05.

Pending Confirmations

  • Mary Boyle ’91 was nominated to serve as commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Mark Brzezinski ’91 was nominated to serve as ambassador to Poland.
  • Cynthia Hogan ’84 was nominated to serve on the Corporation for National and Community Service board of directors.
  • M. Tia Johnson LL.M. ’02 was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
  • Neil MacBride ’92 was nominated to serve as general counsel for the Treasury.
  • Mohsin Raza Syed ’08 was nominated to be assistant secretary of government affairs for the Department of Transportation.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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