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The Nevada Independent

Lombardo replaces heads of three state agencies over past week

The agencies are responsible for veterans services, public works and human resources in Nevada.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
GovernmentState Government
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In the past week, Gov. Joe Lombardo has announced leadership changes in three state agencies without a public explanation for the decisions.

The agencies are the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, the state Public Works Division and the Division of Human Resource Management. The changes follow last week’s departure of state audit administrator, Warren Lowman, who said Lombardo’s administration asked him to leave because of a desire for a “change in leadership.” 

All of the changes were announced internally but not made public by the governor's office, which confirmed the departures to The Nevada Independent on Friday. A spokesperson did not elaborate on reasons for the moves beyond that they were “personnel decisions.”

On Friday, Lombardo’s administration removed Nevada Department of Veterans Services Director Fred Wagar in what Lombardo’s chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, called a “personnel decision.” An email sent to state employees on Friday afternoon said that Lisa Maciel, the veteran services department’s deputy director of benefits, will become the interim director, and a permanent director will be announced in the coming weeks.

Wagar did not respond to a phone call.

The changes come in the final month of Kieckhefer's tenure as chief of staff. The new chief of staff, Ryan Cherry, began on Wednesday, and Kieckhefer will stay on as part of a transition process until the end of the month.

A Lombardo spokesperson said Mandee Bowsmith, the former administrator of the human resource division, was placed on administrative leave last week. On Thursday, Lombardo’s administration sent an email to state employees announcing that Bachera Washington, who was named interim administrator, had been permanently promoted to the job.

The announcement also noted that Wilfred “Wil” Lewis Jr. had replaced former administrator of the state public works division, Kent LeFevre, who is still with the State Public Works Division but is now on special assignment with the Nevada Department of Corrections.

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