Mendez and Howard tapped for communications, policy posts


TRENTON – Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine today announced that Stuart Rabner, head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office criminal division, will join his administration as chief counsel. Corzine also selected Ivette Mendez to serve as communications director and Heather Howard as policy counsel. Corzine said Rabner typifies the tone he intends to set throughout his administration.

“As the transition began, I said I’d seek out the sharpest minds and straightest arrows to serve in my administration, and without a doubt Stuart Rabner epitomizes that ideal,” Corzine said. “Stuart has worked tirelessly on the people’s behalf at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, fighting corruption, terrorism and violent crime.

“I will look to Stuart’s counsel and guidance on matters of importance to my administration, confident that every day he is placing the people’s needs first.”

Rabner currently heads the U.S. Attorney’s Office criminal division in Newark, prosecuting violations of federal criminal law and supervising 100 attorneys and staff. Rabner prosecuted several major cases including a recent terrorism case and several corruption cases. He is a two-time recipient of the Director’s Award for Superior Performance.

“It is a tremendous honor to work with Gov.-elect Corzine and to support his efforts to restore public confidence in government,” Rabner said. “The public has the right to demand that its officials conduct the affairs of government according the highest ethical standards. We will strive to live up to that vital measure each and every day.”

Rabner graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and cum laude from Harvard Law School. The Passaic native resides in Caldwell with his wife and three children.

Corzine also tapped campaign press secretary Ivette Mendez to serve as communications director.

“Ivette Mendez is a skilled communicator who has played a vital role during both of my campaigns for public office,” Corzine said. “I am pleased that she will play a similar role in the days ahead, shaping the message of my administration and communicating my vision for our great state.”

Mendez served as press secretary for Corzine’s gubernatorial campaign and his 2000 Senate race. Prior to the recent campaign stint, she was a spokesperson for Verizon Communications for four years. She served as communications director for Congressman Robert Menendez from 1998 to 2000. Mendez also was a reporter at the Star-Ledger from 1989 to 1997, and at the Paterson News in 1984 to 1986.

“I truly look forward to working for Gov.-elect Corzine as he embarks on making the changes to move New Jersey ahead,” said Mendez.

Mendez was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Plainfield. The Douglass College graduate now resides in Montclair.

Corzine also announced that his Senate chief-of-staff Heather Howard will serve as policy counsel in the Governor’s Office, where she will lead the administration’s policy development team.

“Heather Howard is a smart and talented manager who has run my day-to-day Senate operation with skill and dependability,” Corzine said. “My administration would not be complete without Heather’s sharp analysis, firm grasp of the issues, and avowed love for public policies that change lives for the better.”

Howard has worked for Senator Corzine for five years, previously as his deputy chief of staff for policy and planning and counsel. Howard also served as policy advisor to former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work for Jon Corzine over the last five years,” Howard said. “He is a visionary and strong leader with a tremendous passion for progressive policy. I am thrilled to be a part of this great team.”

Howard graduated cum laude from Duke University and cum laude from New York University School of Law. She will relocate to New Jersey along with her husband and son.