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November 15, 2016
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



Alison Bianchi Appointed Counsel At State Education Department

Board of Regents Appoints Thania F. Fernandez as Executive Secretary of the 
State Boards of Podiatry, Physical Therapy, and Ophthalmic Dispensing

Board of Regents Appoints Kimberly A. Leonard as Executive Secretary to the
State Boards for Pharmacy and Midwifery


The State Board of Regents and State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today announced the appointment of Alison Bianchi as Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs. In her new role, Ms. Bianchi will oversee the Counsel’s Office, which provides legal counsel and services to enable the Board of Regents, Commissioner and NYSED staff to establish education policy and comply with the law.

“Alison has a strong commitment to the work of the Regents and the Department, and to the education and protection of children,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “She has the unique combination of experience, intellect and compassion that makes her the perfect fit to lead the critical work of the Office of Counsel.”

“In more than a decade with the Department, Alison has shown time and time again that she has extensive knowledge, distinguished experience and a commitment to ensuring New York’s students receive the best services possible under the law,” Commissioner Elia said. “I am confident that Alison will continue to build on this record of success and provide the highest quality legal services to the Regents and the Department.”

Ms. Bianchi has more than 14 years of experience in education policy and law through positions at the State Education Department and the New York State School Boards Association. For the past six years, Ms. Bianchi served as Deputy Counsel at the Department, providing legal advice and counsel to the Board of Regents, Commissioner and Department staff on critical policy matters and key initiatives and managing the day-to-day operations of the office. Prior to that, she served in  NYSED’s Office of State Assessment and as project manager for various Department initiatives. Previously, Ms. Bianchi also was associate editor at Lawyers Weekly USA where she researched and produced stories on state and federal case law and legislation. Ms. Bianchi holds a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and earned her juris doctorate at Boston University School of Law.

Professional Board Appointments

Today, the Board of Regents appointed Thania F. Fernandez as the Executive Secretary of the State Boards of Podiatry, Physical Therapy, and Ophthalmic Dispensing.  In this role, Ms. Fernandez will advise and assist the Regents and the Department on matters of professional licensing and professional practice for the state’s 2,500 Podiatrists, 22,000 Physical Therapists, 6,000 Physical Therapy Assistants, and 4,000 Ophthalmic Dispensers.

Ms. Fernandez is a licensed attorney, who has served as an Assistant Counsel in the Office of the Professions for the last four years. In that role, she provided legal guidance and assistance, drafted legal decisions, and worked closely with the Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Secretaries for various professions. Ms. Fernandez previously served as Assistant Counsel for the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and the NYS Department of Health Bureau of Medicaid Law.  She has also served as Deputy General Counsel and Legislative Counsel for the NYS Consumer Protection Board and as an Associate Counsel to the NYS Assembly. 

The Board of Regents also appointed Kimberly A. Leonard as the Executive Secretary to the State Board for Pharmacy and Midwifery. In this position, Ms. Leonard will advise and assist the Regents and the Department on matters of professional licensing and professional practice for the state’s 1,100 midwives, 25,500 pharmacists and registration of over 7,000 establishments.

Ms. Leonard is a licensed pharmacist, who has worked in the healthcare field for many years, serving in managerial and leadership positions. Most recently, she has served as the Pharmacy Supervisor in the Office of the State Board of Pharmacy and Midwifery.  In that role, Ms. Leonard worked closely with the State Boards and the former Executive Secretary, and was responsible for evaluating and making determinations on pharmacy registration applications, as well as individual applications for licensure.  Ms. Leonard previously served as a Pharmacy Consultant for the Office of Health Insurance Programs at the NYS Department of Health, and as a community pharmacist.