Murphy announces senior leadership team

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy announced his senior leadership team late Tuesday, making some changes to previously announced names. The news release also warned of potential additions to the list.

“This team brings the wide range of experience, new ideas and genuine enthusiasm needed for turning our state around and making New Jersey a state that works for all residents and not just a select few,” he said in a statement. “I am confident that, together, we will change the culture in Trenton, set an example for principled leadership and accomplish great things for New Jersey.”

The following is the latest list of individuals appointed to his team, and, staying true to Murphy’s stated goal, includes diverse candidates; a majority are women.

  • Adam Alonso as deputy chief of staff for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs. Alonso currently serves as political affairs director for the gubernatorial transition and was a familiar face when Murphy engaged with the state’s Hispanic communities. In his role, Alonso will manage the Governor’s Office public engagement, intergovernmental and constituent relations divisions, as well as the Office of Appointments. Alonso is the founder and CEO of the Cratos Group, a Bergen County-based public affairs consulting firm.
  • Justin Braz, deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, previously served as labor director during the campaign, and was chief of staff to Assembly Budget Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) from 2013 until August 2017. He also was the New Jersey political coordinator for 1199 SEIU and chief of staff to Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth).
  • Kathleen Frangione, chief policy adviser, is a transplant from Washington, D.C., and has previously served as senior policy adviser on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee under then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and was a legislative staffer in Kerry’s Senate office.
  • Parimal Garg, deputy chief counsel, also was a senior policy adviser during the gubernatorial campaign, has previously clerked for New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. He has also previously worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C.
  • Mahen Gunaratna, director of communications, has served as deputy communications director to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as previously served as Florida communications director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the presidential election and as Florida press secretary and Connecticut press secretary during the primary.
  • Lynn Haynes, deputy chief of staff for cabinet affairs & operations, is a former state deputy attorney general and assistant commissioner of income security at the state Department of Labor. She is a partner at Advocacy & Management Group, and has also previously served as executive director and chief counsel for Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and the Senate Majority Office.
  • Joe Kelley, deputy chief of staff for economic growth, previously served as deputy campaign manager and finance director for the campaign, and has also previously worked with U.S. senators from Connecticut.
  • Stephanie Lagos, chief of staff to First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy, was also a senior policy adviser to the Murphy for Governor campaign, and previously served as deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Schaer.
  • Mary K. E. Maples, deputy chief counsel for authorities, currently serves as senior counsel in the Authorities Unit. Maples has previously worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Kate McDonnell, deputy chief counsel, currently serves as general counsel to the Assembly Majority Office, a position she has held for the past eight years.
  • Scarlett Rajski, director of appointments, currently works with Bill Castner in the Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Division at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Prior to joining Horizon, she also worked at Gibbons P.C. and has previously worked in public relations and communications. Rajski has also worked for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).