USPTO names new members of leadership team 

New appointments will lead the agency’s policy and communications teams
Press Release

CONTACT: (Media Only)
Paul Fucito or Mandy Kraft
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the appointment of Sharon Israel as Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs, overseeing the agency’s Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA) effective January 8, and Jack Fleming as Chief Communications Officer, overseeing the agency’s communications team.  

As Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs, Ms. Israel will serve as a principal advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO and the Deputy Under Secretary and Deputy Director on domestic and international policy matters related to intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement and on IP-related trade issues, including proposed legislation and international activities of the U.S. She will oversee OPIA’s education and training programs through the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA); global advocacy initiatives through the IP Attaché Program; and economic analyses through the Office of the Chief Economist, among her many duties. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Sharon to the USPTO leadership team,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Sharon’s extensive IP background, effective communication skills, and proven leadership experience make her an outstanding choice to helm our IP policy and international affairs group. I look forward to working with Sharon and her team on important initiatives to strengthen America’s competitiveness on the global stage through robust IP policies and laws, and the protection of U.S. businesses’ IP interests abroad.”

An accomplished attorney, speaker, and writer, Ms. Israel joins the USPTO from the Houston office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. where she served as partner and specialized in IP law with an emphasis in patent litigation. Ms. Israel has acted as counsel in cases before district and appellate courts, as well as the International Trade Commission. Ms. Israel has served in leadership roles in numerous IP organizations, including as President of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Chair of the State Bar of Texas Intellectual Property Law Section, President of the Houston Intellectual Property Law Association, President of The Honorable Nancy F. Atlas Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, President of the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law, Membership Officer of the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law, and on the Board of Governors for the Federal Circuit Bar Association. Ms. Israel earned her law degree and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and her S.B. degree (Bachelor of Science) in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Mary Critharis, who has been serving as Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs, will be transitioning to Deputy Director with an increased focus on global IP strategies, especially on innovation and commercialization activities.   

As Chief Communications Officer, Mr. Fleming serves as advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, working with the Chief Corporate Communications Officer to plan and implement communications initiatives to achieve agency and administration priorities.  

“We’re very lucky to have Jack help lead our stellar communications team,” continued Director Vidal. “Jack’s dedication to serving America’s innovators, including those from underrepresented communities, is unparalleled, as is his strategic vision. I’m excited to watch the team continue to thrive under his leadership.”

Prior to being named Chief Communications Officer, Mr. Fleming had previously served as the Deputy Chief Communications Officer since he joined the agency in January 2023, and as Acting Chief Communications Officer since May 2023.  Before joining the USPTO, Mr. Fleming worked as the Associate Director for Digital Communications at The Education Trust, a national education equity nonprofit working to increase opportunities and improve outcomes for Black and Latino students and students from low-income families in our public K-12 and university systems. He and his team oversaw day-to-day digital communications work, and he served as a strategic advisor to the Vice President for Communications and the CEO. 

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