CA Gov. Newsom appoints 3 UC Berkeley faculty to state, county positions

Photo of Sharon L. Djemal, Tomas Aragon, John Balmes
Left to right: Tomás Aragón, Sharon Djemal, John Balmes

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed three UC Berkeley faculty members to state and county positions this week.

Sharon Djemal, a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law, was appointed as an Alameda County Superior Court judge. Campus environmental health sciences professor John Balmes was reappointed to the California Air Resources Board. Tomás Aragón, an assistant adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, was appointed to be the director of the California Public Health Department.

“I really enjoy applying my research in public health and clinical experience to the development of air quality and climate change mitigation policy,” Balmes said in an email.

Balmes has been a faculty member at UC Berkeley since 2002. As a physician-scientist and a professor of medicine at UCSF, Balmes has been studying the health effects of climate change and air pollution for 35 years. 

One of the goals Balmes hopes to achieve is to successfully implement AB 617, a bill mandating that a state environmental protection agency work on reducing hot spots of toxic pollution, especially in low-income communities of color.

Since 2004, Aragón has been a volunteer faculty member at the campus School of Public Health. Aragón has also served as the health officer for the city and county of San Francisco and as the director of the Population Health Division at the San Francisco Department of Public Health since 2011.

While Aragón has been appointed by Newsom, he will still need to be confirmed by the California State Senate.

As a campus faculty member for the past 20 years, Djemal serves as the director of the Consumer Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center. Djemal’s work as a lecturer is focused on consumer law, litigation skills and social justice.

Djemal noted that she values the equal administration of justice and aspires to apply the law thoughtfully after hearing all sides of disputes fairly and respectfully.

“I want to ensure that everyone who comes into my courtroom feels heard, is treated with respect, and feels like they’ve been treated fairly,” Djemal said in an email. “Everyone is entitled to access to justice.”

Contact Robson Swift at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.