Murray Announces Key ‘Staffing Innovations’

Murray Announces Key ‘Staffing Innovations’

- in Top News, Politics, Local


Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray Wednesday announced key staff roles and hires within the Office of the Mayor, outlined three major “staffing innovations” and named several new City department head appointments.

“My administration, as with any administration, will be judged on how we serve Seattle residents, and my standard will be one of excellence,” said Murray. “To me, excellence means an administration that functions with a high level of inclusiveness, transparency, responsiveness and collaboration – and that brings innovation to solving problems for the people of Seattle.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Murray was flanked by his selections for his executive leadership team, his newly-created Office of Policy & Innovation, and his proposed appointments for interim and permanent department head positions.

“For my administration to serve with excellence, my surrounding team must be excellent,” said Murray. “This is an excellent team, an innovative team, a winning team. These are highly capable individuals who are ready to bring their energy, experience and expertise with them on Day One of my administration.”

Murray also emphasized his commitment to a Mayor’s Office and an Administration that reflects the diversity of the Seattle community, both in today’s announcement and in future announcements.

Mayor’s Executive Leadership Team

Murray detailed the make-up of his executive leadership team, which begins with an innovative concept for two Deputy Mayors: “one with a focus on what’s going on in our communities, and one with a focus on what’s going on within city government.”

The external-facing Deputy Mayor will function as Murray’s ‘chief liaison’ and will maintain a “systematic engagement with the many diverse communities and groups throughout Seattle and beyond.” To the position, Murray named Hyeok Kim, Executive Director of Interim Community Development Association, calling her “an incredibly well-respected voice in our community, and someone known near and far for her integrity.”

The internal-facing Deputy Mayor will function as Murray’s ‘operations lead,’ and will assist in managing “how the city delivers on our commitment to serve the residents of Seattle.” Murray said the role will focus on breaking down silos and promoting cross-department collaboration. To fulfill the position on an interim basis, Murray coaxed out of retirement Andrea Riniker, who previously served as Bellevue City Manager and director for the Port of Tacoma, the Sea-Tac airport and the state Department of Ecology. Riniker “will help assess the status of departments while helping to provide a clearer picture of how this position can best function,” Murray said. “She will also help define the profile of the person who will take this role on permanent basis – and I’m happy to have a former administrator of her stature, with her talent and regional focus to help me craft this critical role.”

As a second staffing innovation, Murray announced that he is bringing the Budget Director back into the Mayor’s Office “to reflect the nature of the budget and the importance of the Budget Director role.” He named Ben Noble, current Director of Seattle City Council Central Services, to the role, describing Noble as someone “widely respected for his competence and professionalism.” Murray also said he will bring the Communications Director into his executive leadership team “to help ensure that our communications and policy strategies are aligned,” and named Jeff Reading, formerly his Deputy Chief of Staff with the Democratic Caucus in the state Senate, to the role. And, in what he described as ‘a real coup,’ Murray announced that Robert Feldstein, current Chief of Staff in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, will be the Director for the newly-created Office of Policy & Innovation.

Office of Policy & Innovation

As a third major staffing innovation, Murray laid out his plans to create the Office of Policy & Innovation within the Mayor’s Office, calling it a ‘new model’ that will function as an “in-house consultancy to the Mayor.” Murray said that his approach to policy aims to break down the silos that tend to form around issue areas, and will instead “place a premium” on analytic and strategic skills, on the ability to identify and scope out a problem, on talent in facilitating and assessing and communicating solutions, on excellence in project management, and an ability to deliver clear and measureable results.

Staff under this model will be interchangeable among policy areas, Murray said, and announced several early hires for the Office. Mike Fong, currently an analyst with the Seattle City Council Central Staff, will be Deputy Director of the Office. Former City Council member and current Community Police Commission member Tina Podlodowski will be the project lead on police reform issues. Jared Smith, head of Northwest Operations for the planning, engineering and construction management firm Parsons Brickerfhoff, will be the director for the Waterfront and Seawall project. Steve Lee, former project management consultant to the White House, will be project lead for organizational effectiveness. And Andrew Glass Hastings, current Government Relations Officer for the King County Department of Transportation, will be project lead on transportation and transit issues.

“I’m very excited about this approach to policy,” said Murray. “It puts the emphasis on an ability to drive progress – which is a dynamic thing – rather than domain knowledge, which is a static thing. Our emphasis needs to be – and will be – on the clear, compelling and measurable progress we are able to deliver.”

Permanent Department Heads

Murray announced three new City department head appointments, subject to confirmation by the City Council. For the Office of Civil Rights, Murray has selected Patricia Lally, a civil-rights leader in the community who has served an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as a member of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission. For the Office of Housing, Murray has selected Steve Walker, former division director for the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and advisor for the City of Seattle’s Department of Housing and Human Services, the Family Emergency Shelter Coalition in the San Francisco Bay Area, and New York City’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development. And for the Office of Personnel, Murray has selected Susan Coskey, a former US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee and private practice labor and employment lawyer, human resources executive and organizational and human resources consultant in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Interim Department Heads

Murray also appointed two interim heads to City departments for which he has said he will conduct a national search to identify his permanent hires. To the Seattle Department of Transportation, Murray has named Goran Sparrman, current deputy director at SDOT and the former director of transportation at the City of Bellevue and at Portland’s Bureau of Traffic Management, as Interim Director. To the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Murray has named Aaliyah Gupta, founding Executive Director of Chaya, a community based nonprofit working on domestic violence issues in the South Asian community, as Interim Director.

“My vision is of a city that gets results in addressing our common challenges in public safety, in transportation, in making sure that ours is a growing city at the same time that it’s a fair and affordable city,” said Murray. “I have confidence in the ability of the individuals announced today to help me carry out this vision successfully.”

Murray also directed people to his transition website, where application from people interested in joining the administration are still being accepted. The website can be found at

A complete list of positions announced today and attendant salaries can be found below. Biographies are listed in attachment.

Salary Information

  • Mayor’s executive leadership team:
  • Hyeok Kim – Deputy Mayor, external ($170,000)
  • Andrea Riniker – Interim Deputy Mayor, internal ($170,000)
  • Ben Noble – Budget Director ($170,000)
  • Robert Feldstein – Director of the Office Policy & Innovation ($170,000)
  • Jeff Reading – Communications Director ($140,000)

Office of Policy & Innovation Leads:

  • Mike Fong – Deputy Director ($130,000)
  • Andrew Glass Hastings – Transit and transportation ($118,000)
  • Steve Lee – Organizational effectiveness ($118,000)
  • Tina Podlodowski – Police chief search and police reform ($118,000)
  • Jared Smith – Waterfront and Seawall ($160,000)

Permanent Department Heads:

  • Susan Coskey – Personnel ($175,000)
  • Patricia Lally – Office of Civil Rights ($151,000)
  • Steve Walker – Housing ($145,000)

Interim Department Heads:

  • Aaliyah Gupta – Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs ($116,000)
  • Goran Sparrman – Seattle Department of Transportation ($176,000)



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