Lamont Names First African-American To OPM Secretary, Former Dodd Aide to Chief of Staff

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo

HARTFORD, CT — Governor-elect Ned Lamont made his first two hires Tuesday announcing that Melissa McCaw of Hartford will be his Office of Policy and Management Secretary and Ryan Drajewicz of Fairfield will serve as his chief of staff.

McCaw, 39, will become the first African-American to serve as Connecticut’s OPM Secretary, a position also commonly referred to as “budget director.” She’s also only the third woman to hold the position. The second female budget director was Brenda Sisco, who was “acting secretary” toward the end of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s term in 2010 and 2011. The first was Sue Shimmleman who served after William Cibes in 1994 and 1995.

McCaw started her career as a budget specialist at the Office of Policy and Management for eight years before becoming the budget director at the University of Hartford for seven years. She’s currently working as chief financial officer for the city of Hartford and will leave that post in January.

She said she’s happy to have had the “tough” experience of balancing a budget in Hartford, which is currently under partial control of the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB). In her new role as OPM Secretary, McCaw will soon serve as co-chair of the MARB along with incoming State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who is a former president of the Hartford City Council now working as an attorney in private practice at Day Pitney. The rest of the board’s membership is appointed by the governor (five seats) and the four legislative leaders (four seats).

McCaw doesn’t have a long history with Lamont.

“Melissa and I are just getting to know each other better,” Lamont said. “But Melissa again brings that mix of public and private that I think is so important.”

McCaw said she looks forward to implementing Lamont’s vision and a policy plan that is “balanced and addresses Connecticut’s fiscal crisis.”

She said one of the reasons she accepted the challenge was Lamont’s “commitment to changing the economic direction of our state and expanding opportunities for all residents.”

Lamont said he just met with his budget team and he plans to have a budget that anticipates not just the good times, but the bad times as well. He said that’s why he doesn’t want to use the Rainy Day Fund to balance the $1.7 billion budget deficit in 2020.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie Lamont’s choice for chief of staff is Drajewicz, who, at 39, is already heading up Lamont’s transition team on a leave of absence from Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. At Bridgewater he helped founder Ray Dalio with a 10-year transition plan out of his day-to-day management of the company into a role as co-CIO. Before that, Drajewicz worked as deputy chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.

“He learned the art of politics at the knee of the master, Chris Dodd,” Lamont said referring to Drajewicz.

But Lamont said he also likes how Drajewicz keeps an eye on “performance metrics” with an eye toward “reorganizing government.”

Drajewicz said “this will be an office of the governor with a new energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and creativity. This is a new chapter for Connecticut and we are going to do things differently.”

Lamont said they’ve had hundreds of resumes come in and they are being vetted by his transition team volunteers. He said he is also conducting a nationwide search to find some of the top talent to lead Connecticut’s 57 state agencies.

With Drajewicz and McCaw in place, Lamont must now decide to hire a chief legal counsel and head of legislative policy.

Governor-elect Ned Lamont announces his first hires for chief of staff and OPM Secretary.

Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Tuesday, December 4, 2018

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