The long awaited announcement of a new CPSC Chairman is finally here. After more than a year of speculation and intrigue, the search ended right where it started today when President Obama announced that Elliot Kaye is his nominee to become the next Chairman of the CPSC.
Having previously served with Elliot in former Chairman Inez Tenenbaum’s office, I am not the least bit surprised that the President chose him to lead the agency. If you have ever had the chance to meet Elliot, you understand why. Elliot’s results-oriented and innovative leadership style over his years at the CPSC has served as the driving force behind many of the agency’s most collaborative and successful initiatives.
One of the best examples was his ability to coalesce the leading organizations and companies in football around a common goal: to address the serious issue of brain safety by creating a culture change in youth football through education and training. Here’s the CPSC’s description of a program that is emblematic of Elliot’s leadership style:
In 2012, CPSC began an innovative public-private collaboration to work on lowering the risk of concussions and other mild traumatic brain injuries at the youth football level. The “Youth Football Brain Safety” initiative involved major companies that manufacture or recondition football helmets, industry associations (the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association), the National Football League (NFL), the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), USA Football (the official youth football development partner of the NFL and the NFLPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Through private funding, the program provides assistance to football programs for economically disadvantaged youth, outfitting their players in newer and properly maintained helmets, provided those programs comply with CPSC- and CDC-supported comprehensive education efforts administered by USA Football aimed at driving a fundamental safety culture change in the sport.
Some of the other CPSC initiatives Elliot spearheaded during our time working together included the agency’s similar approach to addressing brain safety issues in youth baseball and utilizing a collaborative approach to address chemical burn hazards from the ingestion of coin cell batteries with major battery manufacturers. Elliot is currently serving as the Executive Director of the CPSC and previously served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff of the agency. He also previously worked as the Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to Congressman John Tierney.
It is expected that Elliot will be paired with Joe Mohorovic, who was nominated as the new Republican Commissioner in November of last year. Both nominees bring a considerable background and experience in the world of consumer product safety with them, meaning there will be practically no learning curve for the new leadership of the agency.
Because the White House has only just announced the nomination today, there is not yet any word on when the Senate will hold a confirmation hearing. In all likelihood though, we will most likely see a new Chairman and a fully restored five member Commission within the next few months.
Congratulations to my friend and former colleague Elliot Kaye, who, along with Joe Mohorovic and Commissioners Adler, Buerkle, and Robinson, has been chosen by the President to chart the course of the CPSC in the post-CPSIA era.