DCNR Executive Staff
Deputy Secretary for Administration
John Giordano was named deputy secretary for administration in April 2011. In this capacity, Giordano serves as the department’s chief administrative and fiscal officer, with responsibility for all administrative, management, and information technology operations, as well as oversight of the agency’s budget and personnel.
Prior to his appointment as deputy secretary, Giordano served on Governor Corbett’s Transition Team, as a member of the Energy and Environment Committee.
From 2008-2011, Giordano was executive vice president and chief legal officer of Atlantic Trailer Leasing Corp., a transportation and equipment leasing company.
Giordano is a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official, having served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and as counselor to the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Before joining the Justice Department, Giordano served as a senior advisor and staff director at the U.S. Department of Energy.
While with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Giordano prosecuted federal felony and misdemeanor matters, including national security violations, fraud, narcotics offenses, and government theft. As counselor to the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, he provided counsel on civil and criminal matters involving various environmental and natural resource laws, including those related to pollution-control; land acquisition; resource and ecosystem management; wildlife protection; Indian rights and claims; and national security programs. As a senior advisor and staff director at the U.S. Department of Energy, Giordano provided counsel on energy policy, national security issues, energy related economic activities, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulation and oversight.
Prior to his experience in Washington, D.C., Giordano was an associate at Piper Rudnick LLP (now known as DLA Piper), and a law clerk to the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas for the U.S. District Court, D.N.J.
Giordano is also a lecturer in law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an adjunct professor at Rutgers University School of Law.
Giordano graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi with high honors and academic distinction from Villanova University and received his law degree Phi Delta Phi from Villanova University School of Law.
Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry
Ellen Ferretti was named deputy for parks and forestry in June 2011. In this role, she is responsible for managing and directing the operations of the bureaus of state parks; forestry; and facility, design and construction.
Ferretti served on Governor-elect Tom Corbett’s Transition Team, as a member of the Energy and Environment Committee.
Ferretti comes to DCNR from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council where she served as the vice president of PEC’s Northeast Regional Office. In this capacity, she was responsible for managing staff, grant programs, budgets and working with regional DCNR staff and others to implement a variety of conservation landscape projects and programs in cooperation with local communities and groups.
Ferretti also served as director of environmental resources at Borton-Lawson Engineering, responsible for client development, marketing and team member coordination for all work related to environmental and hazardous material assessments, permitting, park and trail master planning, and land use planning .
Other experiences include working as a land protection specialist for The Nature Conservancy, vice president of ARRIS Engineering Group, Inc., project manager/environmental scientist at America Resource Consultants, and a project manager at Westinghouse Environmental and Geotechnical Services, Inc.
Ferretti has been extensively involved in projects and programs to advance conservation initiatives in Northeastern Pennsylvania including the Luzerne-Lackawanna County Brownfield/Greyfield Development Opportunities Task Force; Luzerne-Lackawanna Bi-County Open Space, Greenway and Outdoor Recreation Master Plan; Wyoming Valley Watershed Coalition; water, recreation and wellness trails planning and development; land use studies; and rivers conservation plans.
Ferretti was a member of the DCNR Citizen’s Advisory Council from 2008 until her appointment at DCNR.
Ferretti is a graduate of Wilkes College, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental science/biology.
Cindy Adams Dunn
Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services
Cindy Adams Dunn was named deputy secretary for conservation and technical services in 2008. In this capacity, she leads DCNR’s work in landscape conservation and administers the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation and the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey.
Prior to becoming deputy secretary, Dunn served as the director of DCNR's Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, which works to protect Pennsylvania’s natural and heritage resources and provides recreational opportunities. The bureau accomplishes its mission through grants and technical assistance.
Dunn also had stints as director of education, communications and partnerships and director of community relations at DCNR and air quality specialist at the Department of Environmental Resources in her state government career.
Dunn served as the executive director of Audubon Pennsylvania from 1997 through 2003, and as the Pennsylvania program director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for 10 years.
Dunn has won numerous awards including the Francis E. Flanigan Environmental Leadership Award from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Conservationist of the Year awards from the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation, the Cumberland County Conservation District and the Appalachian Audubon Society.
Dunn earned both a bachelor of science and master of science degree from Shippensburg University.
Dennis A. Whitaker, appointed as DCNR’s chief counsel in May 2012, advises the department on a wide variety of legal issues, including oil and gas leasing, environmental compliance and state park and state forest land acquisition.
From 1990 until his appointment, Mr. Whitaker was with the Department of Environmental Protection where he served as an assistant counsel, as a supervisory attorney, as assistant chief counsel-litigation coordinator and as executive deputy chief counsel.
An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, Mr. Whitaker was lead trial counsel for three commonwealth agencies in their action to prevent the privatization of a portion of the Little Juniata River, a world-class trout fishery. He has litigated other issues as diverse as the First Amendment right to petition government and the effect of the Eleventh Amendment on the relationship between federal regulators and state mining programs.
From 1988 to 1990, Mr. Whitaker clerked for the Honorable Joseph T. Doyle of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
Active in the bar, he currently is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Board of Directors and serves on the PBA Environment and Energy Law Section Council in addition to his membership in the Administrative Law Section and Appellate Advocacy and Government Lawyers Committees. Mr. Whitaker is a recent past chair of the Administrative Law Section and served two terms as the section’s delegate to PBA’s House of Delegates. He is a Master in the James S. Bowman American Inn of Court and has been active in the planning of several CLE programs with PBI. He has served on the faculty of and authored CLE materials for PBI’s Environmental Law Forum, PBI’s Advocacy before Administrative Law Judges program, and its Administrative Law Symposium, among others. He also has instructed the minor judiciary on access and entry issues.
Mr. Whitaker has written on subjects including state sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment, and on the admissibility of hearsay evidence relied upon by experts.
He received his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University.