Steven C. Silverman
Director, USDA National Appeals Division
Steven C. Silverman was appointed as Director of the National Appeals Division (NAD) in September 2014. As Director, Mr. Silverman supervises a national office staff located in Alexandria, Virginia, and three regional offices located in Indianapolis, Indiana; Cordova,Tennessee; and Lakewood, Colorado. Mr. Silverman also leads a nationwide team of Administrative Judges located across the United States.
Mr. Silverman has spent his entire career in public service. Prior to being named Director of NAD, Mr. Silverman served for two-and-a-half years as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). As Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Silverman supervised a wide range of environmental litigation and appeals as well as environmental policy and legislative matters. He played a key role in DOJ's handling of actions to combat climate change, uphold rules under the Clean Air Act, negotiate the Federal Government’s cleanup responsibilities at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State, and respond to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Before serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at DOJ, Mr. Silverman served as the Deputy General Counsel at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. As Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Silverman supervised the operations of USDA’s Office of the General Counsel, including all field operations, and managed a diverse portfolio of cases involving nearly all of USDA’s programs. He also played a key role in helping the Forest Service promulgate a historic new planning rule to guide forest management activities on 193 million acres of National Forest System land.
Mr. Silverman also served as the Acting General Counsel of USDA from August 2009 to January 2010. As the Acting General Counsel, Mr. Silverman led efforts to resolve several high profile class action civil rights lawsuits that had challenged the Department for several decades. Prior to serving as the Acting General Counsel, Mr. Silverman served for six years as USDA’s Regional Attorney of the Mountain Region of the Office of the General Counsel. As Regional Attorney, Mr. Silverman supervised the personnel and work of four USDA law offices in Denver, Missoula, Albuquerque and Ogden.
Mr. Silverman began his legal career as an Honors Lawyer at the Environmental Enforcement Section of DOJ in 1987. He served as a law clerk to Judge Pamela Ann Rymer in the United States District Court for the Central District of California after graduating with Distinction from Stanford Law School. Mr. Silverman earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a major in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Mr. Silverman is a native of Des Moines, Iowa.
Deputy Director (acting - Jennifer Nicholson)
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Supervisory Appeals Officer
Duane A. Sinclair
Regional Director – Eastern Region, USDA National Appeals Division
Duane A. Sinclair has served as the Regional Director of the National Appeals Division’s (NAD) Eastern Regional Office (ERO) since June 2005. As Regional Director, Mr. Sinclair oversees the adjudication of cases filed in ERO and supervises a staff of dispersed Administrative Judges who conduct hearings throughout the region. Mr. Sinclair is also responsible for the administrative functions, training, and supervision of the staff in the Indianapolis, Indiana, regional office.
Mr. Sinclair has spent his entire career with USDA and has been directly involved with administrative appeal processes since September 1989. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Sinclair has served on several intra-agency committees and task forces that developed operating procedures and protocols for the adjudication of administrative appeals. He has also made numerous presentations to NAD stakeholders about the administrative appeal process.
From January 1996 to May 2005, Mr. Sinclair served as the Regional Director in NAD’s Southern Regional Office and, from October 1994 through December 1995, served as the ERO Deputy Regional Director. Prior to the establishment of NAD, Mr. Sinclair served as an Assistant Area Supervisor and Hearing Officer in the Eastern Region of the Farmers Home Administration’s National Appeals Staff. He began his USDA career with the Farmers Home Administration in a County Office located in Northern Illinois. Mr. Sinclair received his Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, majoring in Agri-Business Management.
Mark G. Kooker
Regional Director – Southern Region, USDA National Appeals Division
Mark G. Kooker has served as the Regional Director of the National Appeals Division’s (NAD) Southern Regional Office (SRO) since December 2005. As the Regional Director, Mr. Kooker oversees the adjudication of appeal cases filed in SRO and supervises a staff of dispersed Administrative Judges who conduct hearings throughout the region. Mr. Kooker is also responsible for the administrative functions, training, and supervision of the staff in the Cordova, Tennessee, regional office.
Mr. Kooker was one of the original employees when NAD was created in 1994. During his tenure, Mr. Kooker served as a Regional Assistant Director, a Deputy Assistant Director and a Review Officer. A key component of Mr. Kooker’s activities through the years has been the providing of numerous outreach presentations to NAD stakeholders about the administrative appeals process.
Mr. Kooker’s Federal experience also includes five years with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC). During that time, he served as a hearing officer, a marketing/advertising specialist, and an area loss adjustment specialist. Mr. Kooker also served as the Senior Assistant to the FCIC Manager. Mr. Kooker’s previous experience also includes six years of developing FCIC programs and marketing research for the University of Delaware, and eight years as the Senior Assistant to the Secretary, Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Patricia A. Leslie
Regional Director – Western Region, USDA National Appeals Division
Patricia Leslie has served as the Regional Director of the National Appeals Division’s (NAD) Western Regional Office (WRO) since March 2000. As Regional Director, Ms. Leslie oversees the adjudication of cases filed in WRO and supervises a dispersed staff of Administrative Judges located throughout the region. She is also responsible for the administrative functions, training, and supervision of the staff located in the Lakewood, Colorado, regional office.
In February 1992, Ms. Leslie began her public service as an Appeals Officer in NAD’s national office located in Alexandria, Virginia. As an Appeals Officer, she applied recognized adjudication principles and practices of administrative law to Hearing Officer appeals decisions to determine if agencies under NAD’s jurisdiction administered programs according to law.
During her tenure, Ms. Leslie played a key role in negotiating the reorganization of USDA’s Rural Economic and Community Development (RECD) mission area. She participated in an 18-member task force that was mandated to develop and implement the staffing process for transferring former Farmers Home Administration, Rural Development Administration, and Rural Electrification Administration employees into the Farm Service Agency and three new agencies established under RECD. The reorganization affected over 10,000 employees who were migrated into the reorganized agencies.