Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the appointment of Thomas Melito as Acting Personnel Officer for the Suffolk County Department of Human Resources, Personnel, and Civil Service. The appointment comes as Jo-Anne Taormina, the current Acting Personnel Officer, announced that she is stepping down from her acting position.
County Executive Bellone also announced that Tahir Shamim will serve as Suffolk County Human Resources Director and has nominated Dennis Brown to serve as Suffolk County Director of Real Property Tax Services. In addition, the County Executive has appointed Jason Elan to serve as Deputy County Executive for Communications and External Affairs, Rebecca Sinclair as Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development and Planning and Dr. Shaheda Iftikhar as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health Services
“These appointments demonstrate my continued commitment to recruit the best and brightest, and make county government a model of excellence, efficiency and integrity,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “As I embark on another term in office, I am delighted that each of these outstanding individuals will be a part of our team to help fulfill our mission to reform county government.”
Earlier this year, County Executive Bellone released the findings of a comprehensive 10-month review of the Department of Human Resources, Personnel and Civil Service. In response to its findings, the County Executive signed an Executive Order to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in the County workforce and to develop a coordinated County-wide Diversity and Inclusion Initiative and Strategic Plan. The County Executive also announced the appointment of Retha Fernandez to serve as the County’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer pending legislative approval.
The new appointments and hiring announcements include a number of seasoned professions with decades of experience in the public and private sectors.
Thomas Melito has been appointed Suffolk County Acting Personnel Officer. The County Executive has also nominated Thomas to serve as Suffolk County Personnel Officer pending approval by the County Legislature. For the last eight years, Thomas has served as a Deputy County Executive responsible for performance management where he helped promote greater efficiencies in county operations and served as an architect behind SuffolkStat. Most recently, he helped lead the successful launch of the first-ever 311 constituent response center among a suburban county in New York State, including all associated personnel classification, recruitment and training for such activities. Beginning in 2012, Thomas helped develop procedures to make Suffolk County an open, accessible and constituent friendly operation with the implementation of the County’s first Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. Outside of county government, he has served the local community as a former member of the Babylon Board of Education for 14 years. Thomas received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from SUNY New Paltz and Masters of Business Administration in Finance (MBA) from New York University.
Tahir Shamim has been appointed Suffolk County Human Resources Director. Tahir brings to the position over 10 years of diversified Human Resources experience in complex multinational organizations. Tahir recently served as Senior Director of Human Resources for Uncommon Schools, leading a team of 17 HR professionals to support 2,500 employees located across 53 school locations. Prior to this role, Tahir served as Head of Human Resources and Organizational Development for the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative with over 12,000 signatories from 170 countries. Tahir also served as Assistant Director of Human Resources for the New York City Housing Authority, North America’s largest public housing authority with nearly 11,500 employees. Tahir received a Master in HR and ILR from Cornell University and an MBA from Lahore University of Management Sciences.
Jason Elan has been appointed Deputy County Executive for Communications and External Affairs. Since 2017, Jason has served as Director of Communications for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. As county spokesperson, Jason has handled all facets of media relations, managed communications staff, and overseen public information across Suffolk County departments and agencies. In addition, he has worked closely on a number of critical initiatives and projects for the Bellone administration, including but not limited to issues involving state and local legislation, water quality, infrastructure projects, and budgetary matters. Prior to his tenure with Suffolk County, Jason served as Deputy Director of Communications for Public Safety for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Press Secretary to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, and Albany Press Secretary in the New York State Senate. Jason received his M.A. in Elections and Campaign Management from Fordham University and B.S. from Towson University.
Dennis Brown has been nominated as Suffolk County Director of Real Property Tax Services. Since 2005, Dennis has served as Chief Legal Officer of Suffolk County, having charge and oversight of all law business of the County, its agencies, officials and employees. In his 14 years of service as Municipal Law Bureau Chief and County Attorney, Dennis has been directly involved and/or supervised others in numerous aspects of transactional real estate law. In this capacity, he has been involved in issues relating to market valuations for sale of the County nursing home, County environmental land acquisitions and farmland develop rights purchases. He has also worked on real property tax issues including, but not limited to, continuation of PILOTs and tax exempt status of property, proper apportionment of taxes to subdivided parcels, and advised on county charge and local chargeback issues under the Suffolk County Tax act resulting from certiorari proceedings. In addition to his work on real estate matters, Dennis has helped to create subordinate County corporations under New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law to lessen the burdens of County government, and counseled and developed policy and practice to prevent workplace harassment, discrimination and violence. Dennis has also served in a number of roles with various associations, including as Director of the County Attorney Association of the State of New York. Dennis received his B.A. from Hunter College and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
Rebecca L. Sinclair has been appointed Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development and Planning. Rebecca brings a record of delivering results in both government and te private sector, as well as a deep understanding for both community and economic development. Most recently, Rebecca served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Office of the Hempstead Town Supervisor where she led operational oversight of Town-wide departments and worked to craft fiscal year budgets, account for staffing and maintenance needs, plan for capital projects, and serve as a liaison to Nassau County and New York State on several economic development projects. Prior to this role, Rebecca was a Partner with CDS Energy Partners, a Syosset-based consulting firm providing operations and business development services to growing companies in the clean energy, innovative technology and disaster recovery sectors. Rebecca has also served in numerous positions with New York State. As the Director of Buyouts and Acquisitions for the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, Rebecca helped with the purchase of over 2,000 privately owned storm damaged homes primarily located on Long Island and Staten Island in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. She also held several other positions with New York State, including as a Senior Community Developer for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and directed several state sponsored programs focused on rural and neighborhood preservation. Rebecca received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning from SUNY Albany.
Dr. Shaheda Iftikhar will serve as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health Services. For over 20 years, Dr. Iftikhar has served in a number of specialized positions in the Department of Health Services. As the Director of Public Health for the last 7 years, Dr. Iftikhar oversaw the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control, the STD & HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program, the Central Pharmacy, and worked collaboratively with the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Team. She also currently serves as the Acting Division Director for the Division of Patient Care Services where she works on a number of critical initiatives, including increasing immunization rates among children, working on strategies to improve maternal and infant health, assisting vulnerable populations in accessing healthcare, and the prevention of food borne disease and lead poisoning. She previously served as the Acting Medical Director for the Maxine S. Postal Tri-Community Health Center and the Director of Infectious Diseases for the department. Prior to her service with Suffolk County, Dr. Iftikhar was an attending Physician for the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens. Additionally, in 2007 and 2017, Dr. Iftikhar was the recipient of the New York State Department of Health Service’s Honor Roll Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment to public health. She received her Medical Doctorate from Chittagong Medical College in 1984.