5 New Female State Chief Administrators to Watch

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

For states, 2019 was a be a big year for new leadership in the role of State Chief Administrator with twenty-one newly appointed state CAOs. An increasingly important role as the central hub for governor's management and operational priorities.

Women are making great strides in state government and governor’s cabinets. Additionally, 2019 was a notable year for female cabinet level positions with seven of the twenty-one newly appointed management officials being female (30%). These recent additions have pushed the total number of women in the cheif administrator role across the states to nearly fifty percent.

While appointments take place all year long, a surge of females accepted the new role with the wave of new governors taking office in January. In the spirit of celebrating National Women’s Month, here are five state CAOs to watch from this latest group to join governor’s teams.

Photo of E-Director of CO, Kara Veitch

Photo of Commission of Maine, Kristen Figueroa

Photo of Director of MI Dept of MI Technology, Tricia L. Foster

Photo of Commissioner of MN, Alice Roberts-Davis

Photo of Commissioner of TN, Dept of General Services, Christi Branscom

Kara Veitch
Executive Director of Colorado
Department of Personnel
& Administration

Kristen Figueroa
Commission of Maine
Department of Administrative
& Financial Services 

Tricia L. Foster
Director of Michigan
Department of Technology,
Management & Budget

Alice Roberts-Davis
Commissioner of Minnesota
Department of Administration

Christi Branscom
Commissioner of Tennessee
Department of General Services



Kara Veitch began her role as deputy executive director of the Department of Personnel & Administration in July 2013. Kara has more than 18 years’ experience in leadership, legal, and executive experience, having worked as an attorney for Children’s Voices, Inc., and as a business and real estate litigation partner at Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C. Kara also served as associate director of the Colorado Forum, where she advised Colorado’s top business leaders on constitutional, fiscal, and educational challenges facing the State. Kara holds a Master of Business Administration, a Juris Doctorate, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology - all from the University of Colorado. For more information check out her bio.


Kirsten Figueroa has a B.S. in Business Administration/Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University and has over 22 years’ experience in financial and analytical roles. She has had overall responsibility for financial, administrative, human resources, and technology aspects of several organizations including: budgeting; coordinating, improving, and maintaining partnerships; policy development; strategic planning; technology project management; and general operations oversight. Ms. Figueroa’s previous experience includes: Director of Administrative Services for the State’s first financial/administrative/human resource service center; Chief Financial Officer and Housing Director for two non-profits dedicated to low income housing; Chief Financial Officer for Governor Baldacci’s health care initiative, Dirigo Health; Deputy Commissioner of Finance for Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services ($3.3 billion budget); and most recently, Finance Director for the State’s Office of Information Technology. For more information check out her bio.


Tricia L. Foster was named director of Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in January of 2019. In this role, Foster directs a staff of nearly 3,000 employees who provide business, information technology, procurement, retirement, financial and other administrative services for state government and oversees the department’s $1.3 billion budget. Foster retired as senior managing director and chief operating officer of CBRE/Martin and CBRE/Grand Rapids, a commercial and real estate services and investment firm. Her comprehensive understanding of commercial real estate solutions developed over 23 years, beginning in her role as the firm’s accountant and expanding through leadership roles in each business line. Foster graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Michigan State University. She also earned the certified property manager designation and is an accredited commercial manager. For more information check out her bio.


Alice Roberts-Davis serves as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Administration. As Commissioner, Alice leads over a dozen administrative service divisions – including the state’s purchasing, real estate property, fleet, risk management, demographic analysis, and continuous improvement services. As a part of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan’s cabinet, Alice is focused on her commitment to making Minnesota a more equitable and inclusive state. Before joining the state of Minnesota, Alice worked for Target Corporation for 12 years in different leadership capacities, including real estate management and compliance. She was responsible for the purchase and development of land across the country, and she led the company’s $1 billion supplier diversity initiative. Alice attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned a degree in Communications/Journalism, and went on to Florida State University College of Law and earned a Juris Doctor degree. For more information check out her bio.


Christi Branscom is a native Knoxvillian with an honors degree in finance from the University of Tennessee and a law degree from the University of Memphis. She has enjoyed a successful career as COO / General Counsel and Principal Managing Real Estate Broker at Partners Development for more than 20 years. In 2012, she left her work in the private sector to dedicate herself to public service, and she joined the City of Knoxville administration as the Senior Director of Public Works.  Fifteen months later was promoted to Deputy to the Mayor/ Chief Operating Officer.  Branscom is the first woman to have been named to either position in Knoxville history. She has served on the governing boards of many non-profit agencies and arts organizations, including her long–term involvement and support of the Cancer Support Community (CSC). For more information check out her bio.