Shuffling the deck at City Hall, Mayor-Elect Catherine E. Pugh has announced her top staff appointments, revealing a cabinet structure with new titles – and one less senior position than that of outgoing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
As expected, Pugh is eliminating the title of “deputy mayor” for her three closest aides, but will retain the position of chief of staff.
That position will go to Tisha Edwards, former interim CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, once Pugh is installed as Baltimore’s 50th mayor in a ceremony at the War Memorial Building tomorrow.
In addition to coordinating public safety for the new administration, Edwards “will be responsible for day-to-day management of the mayor’s office and will lead the transition efforts, including the restructuring of city government,” according to a media release today from Pugh.
Edwards has been executive vice president of corporate affairs for the J.S. Plank & D.M. DiCarlo Family Foundation.
Established by former Under Armour executive Scott Plank and his wife, the foundation is leading a private-public effort to renovate the facade and add a playground and food truck stand at the Western District Police Station that was the scene of protests following the April 2015 police-custody death of Freddie Gray.
Other appointments announced:
• Delegate Peter A. Hammen (46th District) as Chief of Operations. “Hammen will oversee 12 city agencies that impact a full range of city services, including the Department of Public Works, Department of General Services, Health Department, Baltimore Housing Authority, Finance and Human Resources.”
• Jim Smith, former Baltimore County Executive and former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, as Chief of Strategic Alliances. “Smith will oversee the mayor’s economic development efforts, the Department of Transportation, the Fire Department, and Emergency Management.”
• Karen Stokes, former director of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Office of Transition Planning, as Director of Government Relations. “She will serve as the mayor’s primary lobbyist and liaison to the Baltimore City Council, Maryland General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.”
• Anthony McCarthy, former WEAA radio talk show host and current spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, as Director of Communications. “He will serve as the mayor’s primary spokesperson and coordinate public affairs for the mayor’s office and all city agencies.”
These positions will replace the positions of deputy mayor for operations (currently vacant), deputy mayor for government relations (currently filled by Andrew Smullian), deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development (currently filled by Colin Tarbert), and deputy mayor for health, human services, education and youth (filled until last month by Dawn Kirstaetter).
Edwards will replace outgoing chief of staff Kaliope Parthemos.
“This team has an exceptional track record of public service, and they will help me to transform Baltimore into a thriving and vibrant city for businesses and residents,” Pugh said in today’s release.