12/28/11: Poloncarz Announces Appointments of Key Senior Administration Officials

County Executive-elect Names Leaders of Departments of Law, Health, Emergency Services and Environment and Planning and the Division of Budget and Management

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Today, Erie County Executive-elect Mark C. Poloncarz announced his appointees for the senior positions of Commissioners of Health, Emergency Services and Environment and Planning, Director of Budget and Management, and County Attorney.

The appointees are:

  • Gale R. Burstein, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM, Commissioner of Health
  • Robert W. Keating, Director of Budget and Management
  • Daniel Neaverth Jr., Commissioner of Emergency Services
  • Michael A. Siragusa, JD, County Attorney
  • Maria R. Whyte, Commissioner of Environment and Planning

Poloncarz stated, “I am pleased to nominate these outstanding individuals for leading positions in my administration.  These nominees demonstrate the amazing amount of diversity and wealth of knowledge right here in Erie County and I am proud that they have agreed to serve the County. These talented individuals reflect my commitment to bringing in people who will help develop new policy ideas and innovations and promoting strong candidates from within who have a proven record of success and accomplishment serving Erie County.”

Transition Chairman Michael Joseph added, “The transition team’s executive committee was pleased to recommend these candidates to the County Executive-elect. Based on our interviews and reviews of the nominees’ credentials, we believe that Dr. Burstein, Mr. Keating, Mr. Neaverth, Mr. Siragusa and Ms. Whyte represent the very best our community has to offer and will ably serve the county’s residents and taxpayers in their respective departments.”

Each of these nominations requires confirmation by the Erie County Legislature pursuant to the Erie County Charter.

Commissioner of Health—Dr.  Gale R. Burstein is a pediatrician at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Buffalo and her Masters Degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Dr. Burstein is also an associate clinical professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, an assignee for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical director of the Erie County Department of Health’s STD Clinic and a research assistant professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. Dr. Burstein has worked in various medical director capacities for the County’s Department of Health since 2005 and is a member of a number of professional organizations as well as widely published.

Director of Budget and Management—Robert W. Keating is currently the Director of Grant Accounting Services for the Erie County Comptroller, where he serves as the County’s chief accountant. Mr. Keating has served in Erie County government in the Comptroller’s Office as a competitive career civil servant since 1985. During his career, Mr. Keating has advanced in increasingly senior roles managing the County’s finances including daily liaison with the Division of Budget and Management, county departments, Erie County Medical Center Corporation, and state agencies.

Commissioner of Emergency Services—Daniel Neaverth Jr. has been a member of the Orchard Park Fire District for the past 22 years, during which time he has also served an instructor for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Medical Services and Regional Strategic National Stockpile (“SNS”) Coordinator within the Erie County Department of Emergency Services.  In these roles Mr. Neaverth lead division operations for emergency medical services branch coordinating training and response of more than 5,000 first responders, while assisting the Commissioner of Emergency Services in management of department-wide operations.  Additionally, Neaverth developed, implemented and exercised the regional SNS plan for the ten surrounding counties in Western New York.  Since leaving County government, Neaverth has served as Vice President of Operations for Orchard Park EMS Inc. and the Game Day Operations and Emergency Management Consultant for the Buffalo Bills.

County Attorney—Michael A. Siragusa received his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law in 1992; after which, he practiced corporate law and commercial litigation at a top tier Philadelphia, PA law firm for several years.  Siragusa later returned home to Western New York where he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General In-Charge for the Buffalo Regional Office of the New York State Attorney General.  Among his responsibilities as the deputy head included management responsibilities and a range of state and federal litigation for the largest regional office of the Attorney General.  Additionally, in 2007, Mr. Siragusa was the recipient of the Attorney General’s highest award, the Louis J. Lefkowitz Memorial Award, for his involvement in the statewide liquor industry investigation. 

Commissioner of Environment and Planning—Maria R. Whyte is the outgoing Majority Leader of the Erie County Legislature, where she served as legislator for six years.  During that time, Ms. Whyte served as Chair of the Legislature’s Government Affairs Committee where she ushered the Framework for Regional Growth, the Department of Environment and Planning’s guiding document, through unanimous passage in April 2007.  Whyte also served two years on the Energy and Environment Committee where she provided oversight and approval of all matters related to environmental compliance, sewerage management, watershed protection and household hazardous waste disposal.  She is formerly executive director of the Coalition for Economic Justice and is known for her legislation and policy ideas regarding smart growth, regional planning and cultural tourism.