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GSA Names Key Leaders, Announcements of New Chief of Staff, Associate Administrator for Congressional Affairs

GSA # 10247

June 14, 2006
Contact: Katharine Uhre,(202) 501-1231

WASHINGTON – The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today announced the appointments of John Phelps as Chief of Staff and Kevin Messner as Associate Administrator for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (OCIA).  Mr. Phelps and Mr. Messner will join the agency on July 3 and June 26, respectively.  GSA also announced that Susan Peppler has been named as Senior Advisor for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, which became effective on May 8.

John Phelps most recently served as Chief Operating Officer of the Arizona Red Cross, where he was responsible for operations of the sixth-largest American Red Cross chapter in the United States.   Previously, Mr. Phelps was the Deputy Director of the Arizona Office of Homeland Security and led the creation of systems and processes within the office to provide more effective and efficient support to hundreds of first responder organizations.  Mr. Phelps also had a distinguished career in the military that included serving as a Colonel in the U.S. Army, as the Chief of Staff for U.S. Army Legal Services Agency and as a professor and assistant department head for Administration in the Department of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.  

“John is a truly exceptional individual whom I’ve known for many years, and I have the utmost confidence in his ability to serve as GSA’s Chief of Staff,” said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan.  “He has extensive expertise in organizing and managing large efforts and combines that with superior negotiating skills.  In addition, he brings to the position a solid background in emergency management and disaster recovery.”  

A native of Arizona, Mr. Phelps graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s University in Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in government.  He has a juris doctorate from the University of Arizona, a Master of Laws from the Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Va. and a Master of Laws from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Messner will join GSA’s leadership team after serving as Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ).  His experience working on Capitol Hill also includes serving as Chief of Staff for Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) and as a Legislative Director for Congressman Kolbe on appropriation and immigration issues.  Mr. Messner has also worked in the transportation and automotive industries. 

“I’ve known Kevin for many years.  His rise from intern to staff assistant to legislative director to chief of staff has been meteoric, but hardly surprising,” said Congressman Kolbe.  “Kevin brings the unique perspective of having ‘been there done that’ in working with the Senate and Congress, and knowing what it takes to be responsive to their requests and concerns.  His experience as chief of staff, organizing and managing a team, establishing and executing an agenda, are going to be very valuable to GSA.”
“Kevin’s Hill experience will be invaluable to GSA,” Administrator Doan said.  “He has the knowledge and experience needed to represent the agency on the Hill and to be responsive to Congressional requests and concerns.  In addition, his leadership and management experience will be assets to GSA.  We are fortunate to have someone of Kevin’s caliber to lead the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs.”

Mr. Messner received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and graduated with distinction from the Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management with a masters degree in International Management.

Supporting Mr. Messner, Susan Peppler will serve as Senior Advisor for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, where she will coordinate and manage GSA’s relationship with other federal, state and local agencies.  Additionally, she will advise the Administrator and Deputy Administrator on intra-agency relationships, policies and strategies. Most recently, Mrs. Peppler served as mayor of the City of Redlands, Calif., where she was first elected to the City Council in November 1999.  She is only the third woman to serve
as mayor since the city’s incorporation in 1888.  As mayor, Mrs. Peppler set policies in many areas of local government, including finance, housing, redevelopment and public safety, among others.  She also played a key role in the development and success of the Governmental Partnership Program for the League of California Cities and received significant recognition for her role in Civic Leadership, including “Woman of Distinction” from the California State Assembly 63rd District, an Exemplary Service Award and a Distinguished Service Medal.  She also spent 18 years in the insurance and legal industries working on legislative and regulatory issues.  

“Susan’s experience in the public and private sectors working with various and diverse constituencies to affect policies provides her with a unique breadth of knowledge that is an invaluable asset for the agency," Administrator Doan said.  “Her expertise will be essential as GSA works to advance and fortify its relationships within the government, especially with our customer agencies.”

Mrs. Peppler graduated from California State University San Bernardino with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. 


GSA is a centralized, federal procurement, property management, policy development and information provision agency, created by Congress to improve government efficiency and help federal agencies better serve the public.  In this role, GSA acquires products and services on behalf of federal agencies; plays a key role in developing and implementing governmentwide policies; provides services and solutions for the office operations of more than one million federal workers; and encourages a citizen-centric relationship with government by providing a single "point of entry" to the information and services citizens need in a timeframe they can appreciate.  This allows citizens to receive accurate, timely and consistent answers and information, and helps Federal agencies better respond to citizen inquiries.

Last Reviewed 2010-04-30