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2 high-ranking officials leaving Nevada employment agency

Two high-ranking officials at the state’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation are leaving the agency.

Kimberly Gaa, an Employment Security Division administrator, “is currently out of the office on an extended leave,” the agency said Friday evening.

Deputy Employment Security Devision Adminisator Brian Bracken is retiring effective Sept. 11, 2020.

In their place, DETR has brought back Jeffrey Frischmann, the previous deputy administrator of the division, “on a contracted basis.”

Scott Kennedy, who retired in early 2020 as Unemployment Insurance Operations Chief, will step into Brian Bracken’s role as Acting Deputy ESD Administrator.

Gaa’s unexpected departure caps months of turmoil within DETR, as the unemployment office struggled to clear and pay thousands of claimants while confronting a lawsuit lodged by Nevada gig workers in court.

For almost seven weeks, DETR went without a director until Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Aug. 6 appointment of Elisa Caffeerata as the new acting director to head the embattled agency. Between that time, Gaa served as the agency’s de facto figurehead.

Gaa, who joined DETR in 2012, was appointed as Adminstrator of the agency’s Employment Security Division on Aug. 16, 2019 to oversee the state’s unemployment insurance program.

“I believe this to be a critical role within DETR and look forward to finding innovative ways to improve the services the agency and division provide to Nevada’s workforce and employer communities,” Gaa said at the time.

The department has seen a whirlwind of turnover since April, when former director Tiffany Tyler-Garner resigned.

Former director Heather Korbulic took Garner’s post just days after she resigned, and led the agency for seven weeks before she resigned June 19, citing threats to her safety.

Weeks later, former Deputy Director Dennis Perea resigned.

Nevada’s unemployment rate across the state, at 3.6 percent in February, jumped to 30.1 percent in April before it tumbled over the past few months.

Still, more than 221,000 unemployed Nevadans continue to file weekly for jobless benefits as of Aug. 29, DETR reported Thursday. Over 104,000 self-employed or gig workers in Nevada continued weekly claims through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in the same period.

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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