Brenda Bergeron and Claire Coleman Credit: Courtesy of the administration

Longtime state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection employee Brenda Bergeron has been tapped by Gov. Ned Lamont to be the agency’s next deputy commissioner and Claire Coleman was appointed to become Connecticut’s next consumer counsel. 

Both announcements came Wednesday. 

The Office of Consumer Counsel is an independent agency that represents the ratepayers and consumers during regulatory hearings on utilities like electricity and cable. 

“I am confident that she will be a staunch advocate on behalf of Connecticut’s utility consumers and effectively represent their interests before regulators, courts, and the legislature,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “At this critical time, when energy commodity prices are spiking globally due to the pandemic, we need a consumer counsel who will fight for affordable utility service for Connecticut residents and businesses.”

Coleman has been working since 2019 in the Office of Policy and Management. Before that she worked as an energy attorney at Save the Sound (formerly Connecticut Fund for the Environment), and as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where she conducted investigations into both private business practices and government programs and regulations, and prepared members of Congress for hearings on many areas of government policy and practice.

Coleman’s will start serving on Dec. 3, but will need to be confirmed by the legislature. 

Bergeron will succeed current DESPP Deputy Commissioner Regina Rush-Kittle who is leaving state service to take a job with the city of New Haven, state officials said.

Bergeron has been DESPP’s legal advisor for the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security since 2005. In that role she advises Lamont’s unified command staff on legal issues during emergencies at the State Emergency Operations Center in Hartford.

Since 2016, Bergeron has also served as the program coordinator for the division’s All-Hazards Planning Unit and has served as state coordinating officer, deputy state coordinating officer, and alternate governor’s authorized representative for at least eight presidential major disaster declarations, state officials said.

“This will no doubt be a seamless transition for Brenda as she is intimately familiar with Connecticut’s emergency management needs,” Lamont said. “She is the consummate professional, has the respect of emergency management colleagues throughout Connecticut and around New England, and she has a wealth of knowledge in public safety that makes her the perfect person to take on this new role. I can’t wait for her to get started and I appreciate her taking on this new responsibility.”

Rush-Kettle will leave on Dec. 1 for a position within the administration of New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, state officials said. Rush-Kettle was instrumental in the state’s pandemic response and has provided leadership through severe weather emergencies, Lamont said. She has served as DESPP’s deputy commissioner since 2019, officials said.

“She has been a steady and effective presence throughout my time working with her, showing leadership in our response to COVID-19, and especially during severe storms like Isaias and Ida,” Rovella said. “This is another great advancement in her career. She will be a valuable addition to Mayor Elicker’s administration and it’s an exciting opportunity for her and her family.”