Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie today announced the appointment of Kathleen O'Keefe as Legislative Counsel to the Speaker and Howard Vargas as Executive Counsel to the Speaker.
"These are critical appointments as we head into the 2016 legislative session, and both Kathleen O'Keefe and Howard Vargas will help provide me and my Assembly colleagues with important advice," said Speaker Heastie. "Ms. O'Keefe and Mr. Vargas have repeatedly proven their talent, commitment and principled leadership and I look forward to working with them as we continue the fight to do what's right for New York's hardworking families."
O'Keefe previously served as co-counsel to the New York State Board of Elections. She is an attorney who has practiced in the areas of election law as well as family and matrimonial law. She previously served the Assembly as counsel to the Election Law Committee and, before that, as associate counsel to the Codes Committee. She began her career in the New York State Unified Court System as senior court attorney for the New York State Court of Appeals and later worked as law clerk for the New York State Supreme Court in Dutchess County.
O'Keefe is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Law. She earned a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
"It is both an honor and a privilege to return to the New York State Assembly to serve under Speaker Heastie's leadership," said O'Keefe. "Speaker Heastie and the members of the Majority Conference have made a commitment to expand opportunities for New Yorkers across the state and I am proud to be a part of that mission."
Vargas previously served as assistant counsel to Speaker Heastie. He is an attorney who has practiced in the areas of real estate, guardianship and Surrogate's court matters as well as Workers' Compensation and Social Security. He previously served as a commissioner to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission and general counsel for state affairs to the New York City Council. He was the executive director of the Bronx Democratic Committee and a law clerk for the Civil Court of the City of New York in Bronx County. He began his career as a legislative budget analyst to the New York State Senate Minority Finance Committee and later worked as a legislative assistant to the Senate Minority Leader.
Vargas is a graduate of Albany Law School of Union University. He earned a bachelor's degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"I am honored and thankful for the opportunity to serve our great state as executive counsel to Speaker Carl Heastie," said Vargas. "I look forward to being a part of this historic new chapter as the Assembly continues its efforts to put families first and lead New York into a brighter future."