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Maryland Gov. Moore Announces Additional, Barrier-Breaking Cabinet Picks

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Earlier this week, Gov. Wes Moore announced several additional Cabinet picks who will be leading state agencies.

Serena McIlwain (Courtesy photo)

The Cabinet picks, along with most commission appointees, require approval in the State Senate. Several of these picks will be the first African Americans to serve in their position, including the Secretaries of Environment, Veterans Affairs and Commerce.

The first Black woman to serve as Secretary of Environment is Serena McIlwain, former undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  She has also worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Maryland also gets its first African American Secretary of Veteran Affairs in Maj.  Anthony Woods, who was discharged from the military as a lieutenant under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in 2008, later resuming his service in the Army Reserve. He also worked in the Office of Personnel Management during the Obama Administration. Woods, a Bowie resident, is executive director of the Quad Fellowship, a program he founded for 100 exceptional American, Japanese, Australian, and Indian masters and doctoral students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to study at American universities. 

Kevin Anderson (Courtesy photo)

Secretary of Commerce Kevin Anderson is the founder and CEO of Cardinal Atlantic Holdings. Based in Upper Marlboro, his company provides advice to funds, corporations, and governments on economic and community development strategies and projects.

Secretary of Disabilities Carol A. Beatty, who was originally appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2015, will keep her role. Beatty previously served as director of The Arc in Howard County, an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 2021, Beatty was given The Arc Baltimore’s 2021 Public Service Award for providing vital advocacy.

Moore also named Hagerstown Mayor Emily Keller as the Special Secretary for Opioid Response, a newly created post. Before serving as mayor, Keller served as a councilmember in Hagerstown, and has worked for years to improve service and treatment options for addicts as co-chair of Washington Goes Purple, a community education program about the dangers of drugs. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Phoenix Foundation, home to the only “Recovery High School” in the state of Maryland. Her resignation as mayor will be effective Jan. 31.

U.S. Rep. David Trone (D), who represents Western Maryland, called Keller “a passionate leader in the fight against substance abuse disorder” and “an invaluable partner… and an incredible resource to others across our state.”

Other appointments include:

  • Secretary of Transportation: Paul Wiedefeld is former head of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. As Secretary of Transportation, he would again serve on Metro’s eight-person leadership board. 
  • Secretary of Health: Dr. Laura Herrera Scott, former vice president at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, medical director of Population and Community Health at Johns Hopkins Healthcare and served as deputy secretary of Public Health under former Gov. Martin O’Malley. Joshua Sharfstein, O’Malley’s Health Secretary, said “Herrera Scott is a caring clinician with a deep understanding of population health and the health of communities and expertise in health care financing.”
  • Secretary of Labor: Portia Wu currently works as managing director of the U.S. Public Policy at Microsoft. She formerly served on the White House Domestic Policy Council as special assistant, senior policy advisor to President Barack Obama for Labor and Workforce, and also as Labor Policy director for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Donna S. Edwards, president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, said “Wu has a tremendous labor background, and she comes with great experience from both sides – a labor point of view and a business point of view.”
  • Secretary of Human Services: Rafael Lopez served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as senior advisor to the Administration for Children and Families. He has also served as the associate director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, president and CEO at the Family League of Baltimore City, and as executive director of the Commission for Children, Youth, and their Families for the City of Los Angeles.
  • Secretary of General Services: Atif Chaudry was appointed as Maryland Department of Health deputy secretary of operations in 2021. 
  • Secretary of Juvenile Services: Vincent Schiraldi is a senior research scientist at the Columbia University School of Social Work. He was appointed commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and Senior Advisor to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice under Mayor Bill de Blasio. He is frequently called a reformer.
  • Secretary of Housing and Community Development: Former Salisbury mayor Jake Day is an architect and Major in the Army National Guard, who formerly served as president of the Maryland Municipal League. Day resigned as Mayor of Salisbury on Jan. 27.
  • Secretary of Agriculture: Kevin Atticks is the executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association, the Brewers Association of Maryland and the Maryland Distillers Guild. He also serves on the Maryland Tourism Coalition and as a past president of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council.
  • Secretary of Natural Resources: Josh Kurtz is an environmentalist who serves as executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He has advocated for improving water quality through restoring oyster sanctuaries and tree conservation.
  • Secretary of Planning: Rebecca Flora is founder of the woman-owned and operated consulting company ReMake Group, LLC. She formerly served on the Chestertown Waterfront Task Force.

Secretary of Aging: Carmel Roques is president and CEO of Keswick Multi-Care Center. In a statement, AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg said: “We welcome the appointment of Carmel Roques to lead the Maryland Department of Aging. She has earned an excellent reputation among many advocates for seniors and shares our aspirational goals of making Maryland an Age Friendly state.”

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