I’m pleased to announce that beginning tomorrow Dr. Michael Watson will join me and Mike Gregoire in the Administrator’s office filling behind Dr. Jere Dick as Associate Administrator. Dr. Watson will work in close coordination with Mike Gregoire, who also serves as Associate Administrator, to carry out the Agency’s day-to-day operations, work with stakeholders and employees, and oversee the activities of every APHIS program area and support unit.
For the past six months, Dr. Watson has been serving as Associate Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services, and I’ve asked Dr. Mark Davidson, Associate Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services (VS) overseeing National Import Export Services, to take over that position.
As Administrator I’ve long believed that talented senior leaders have the ability to fill many different roles here at APHIS regardless of the focus of their degrees or professional background. Dr. Watson has a doctorate in plant pathology but two years ago he took over as MRPBS’ Human Resources Division Director and has done an outstanding job. And Dr. Davidson has spent the past 19 years with Veterinary Services; he will now be responsible for our internal business operations. Above all, we need strong leaders who can assess the needs of the Agency, identify challenges and support the Agency as we work together to achieve our mission. I’m confident in the ability of Dr. Watson and Dr. Davidson to do just that.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Watson has worked for several different Federal offices. Before joining APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services in 2003, he worked for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. After 7 years with BRS, he moved to Plant Protection and Quarantine, where he served in several roles before being named Associate Deputy Administrator. Dr. Watson’s diverse knowledge of APHIS programs and services is just what we need in the Administrator’s office. He knows many of our stakeholders and has a solid understanding of the support and services our employees need to be successful in their jobs.
Before joining APHIS in 1998, Dr. Davidson spent two years with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. He has held positions with VS in the field, in the regional office in Fort Collins, CO and at headquarters. While animal health has been his primary focus, Dr. Davidson has become adept at financial management, acquisition and asset management, human resources and more in order to successfully address disease outbreaks and effectively manage VS’ expansive import/export portfolio.
I look forward to working closely with Dr. Watson and Dr. Davidson in their new roles, and I’ve included their biographies for a more complete history of their careers. I’m pleased we were able to move quickly to fill several APHIS Management Team vacancies resulting from the recent retirements of three longstanding Agency leaders. In case you missed my message last week, I announced Ms. Cheryle Blakely as the new Deputy Administrator for International Services and Ms. Janet Bucknall as the new Deputy Administrator for Wildlife Services.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.