Governor Kay Ivey Announced Today a Major Change to Her Senior Leadership Team

Press Releases
Posted on January 15, 2019

MONTGOMERY – Governor Ivey announced on Tuesday that longtime confidant and chief of staff Steve Pelham will be leaving the Governor’s Office to become the new Vice President for Economic Development and Chief of Staff to Auburn University President Steven Leath in February.  Pelham became Ivey’s chief of staff when she was elected Alabama’s first Republican woman Lieutenant Governor in 2011.

Governor Ivey also announced that former U.S. Representative Jo Bonner will replace Pelham as her chief of staff.  Bonner joined the Ivey Administration on December 1, 2018, as the governor’s senior advisor.  In November 2002, he was elected to the first of six terms representing southwest Alabama in the U.S. House.  Prior to that, Bonner served as chief of staff and press secretary to former U.S. Representative Sonny Callahan, R-Mobile.

“Steve has been a close friend and a trusted confidant for a number of years and has provided our office with outstanding leadership,” Governor Ivey said.  “When we made the transition to the Governor’s Office in 2017, Steve was responsible for leading the effort to make certain the Ivey Administration was up and running on day one.  He has maintained that level of commitment to our organization, structure and focus to details throughout our first term together.”

Governor Ivey added, “Likewise, Jo brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our administration, and I know we aren’t going to miss a step as my cabinet, staff and I work, every day, to honor the support and confidence the people of Alabama gave us last November.”

Like Bonner, Pelham is also a veteran of the Alabama Congressional Delegation. From 1992-2000, he worked as state director for U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth.  In 2001 President George W. Bush appointed Pelham to serve as the Alabama state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency.  In addition, during the Bush administration he served as Director of Legislative and Public Affairs in Washington, DC for USDA Rural Development from 2007-2008.

“Dr. Leath is fortunate to gain Steve’s vast knowledge of both state and federal government,” Governor Ivey said.  “Steve is an Auburn graduate and his experience will immediately be put to good use by the Auburn family.  Our loss will be Auburn University’s gain.”

The Governor expressed her pleasure with her new chief of staff as well.

“Jo Bonner is a respected leader and a known quantity in Washington and throughout Alabama. We knew he would be a valuable addition to our team when I announced he was joining us last month.”

Governor Ivey has encouraged Steve to take some time off so that he may have the opportunity to regroup before he transitions to his new role, today is his last day in the office.  As a result, Jo will become Chief of Staff upon Steve’s final separation but will immediately assume those responsibilities during Steve’s transition.