Frank M. Wood
Director, USDA National Appeals Division
Frank M. “Max” Wood was named the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals on October 15, 2019.
Wood is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and the surrounding suburbs. He graduated Cum Laude from LaGrange College in 1981. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1985.
Wood served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate for five years and remained in the Reserves and/or Air National Guard until he retired with the rank of Colonel in December of 2015. As a reserve Air Force officer, Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and to Islamabad, Pakistan for periods on active duty.
He served as the Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit in Georgia. He also worked in private practice in Macon, Georgia.
In 2001, he was appointed the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia by President George W. Bush and served until 2009. While serving as United States Attorney, Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for one year to serve as the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Wood was appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge for the State of Georgia in 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue.
Wood has been married to the former Suzanne Bronson for over 32 years. The couple have three children.
Deputy Director, USDA National Appeals Division
Jennifer Nicholson has been with the National Appeals Division for nearly fifteen years. She has held several positions related to adjudicating administrative appeals. Since 2019, Jennifer has been the Deputy Director, primarily responsible for overseeing the operations of NAD’s regional offices and the issuance of Director Review Determinations.
Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University and her law degree from Creighton University. She completed judicial clerkships with the Circuit Court of St. Mary’s County, Maryland and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Jeffrey P. Wilcox
Supervisory Appeals Officer
Jeff Wilcox joined the National Appeals Division (NAD) in May 2020 as the Supervisory Appeals Officer. He began his professional career in 1983 as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. Departing the Navy in 1988 to attend law school, he subsequently joined the U.S. Air Force where he served for 25 years as a Judge Advocate, retiring in 2017 in the grade of Colonel. While in military service, he deployed overseas and served in various locations worldwide, to include the Republic of Turkey, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Hawaii and in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks. In his final Air Force assignment, he served as the Vice Commander and Interim Commander for the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, a 900-member organization charged with conducting the Air Force’s civil and criminal litigation functions. After retiring from the Air Force in late 2017, he served as a supervisory attorney with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, before joining NAD.
Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1983, a Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1991, and a Master of Science Degree from The Eisenhower School for National Security And Resource Strategy in 2008.
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.
Tezra O. Woody
Regional Director – Southern Region, USDA National Appeals Division
Tezra Woody, JD, MA, joined the USDA Office of Hearings and Appeals (formerly the National Appeals Division) in 2006 as a Deputy Regional Director of the Southern Region. In that capacity she supervised Administrative Judges in nine southern states while managing her own caseload featuring matters of complexity and first impression. In July 2020, Woody was promoted to the position of Regional Director. Her new role includes fiduciary and asset management duties, among other exciting challenges.
Woody is a retired US Army JAG Corps Officer who spent 23 years in uniform. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Winston-Salem State University in 1990, and her J.D from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in 1998. In November of 2019, she completed a Master of Arts degree in Communication Management from the University of Denver.
Tezz has been married to Ed Woody for 27 years and is the mother of Joseph, 22, a Forensic Accounting Master’s Degree candidate at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, and Taylor, 18 a freshman at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Regional Director – Western Region, USDA National Appeals Division
Joli Liebrock joined the National Appeals Division (NAD) in January 2006 as a Deputy Regional Director and now serves as the Western Regional Director in Lakewood, Colorado. She has over 23 years of legal experience, including over a decade working to provide agricultural producers and other USDA participants fair and timely appeals. As Regional Director, Ms. Liebrock oversees the adjudication of cases filed in the Western Regional Office (WRO) and supervises a staff, including Administrative Judges located throughout the Western Region, to ensure customers receive an efficient appeal process designed to address their concerns. She has been an important contributor to agency-wide initiatives and provides presentations and trainings to both USDA program participants and agencies alike. Prior to joining NAD, Ms. Liebrock was a partner with a large Denver-based law firm where she worked with clients to accomplish their goals in regulatory, real estate, litigation, and other matters. Ms. Liebrock earned a Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona.