Malloy unveils transition team

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy unveiled a 22-member transition team Monday that includes officials from state and municipal government, representatives of business, labor and the private, nonprofit community, political consultants and several individuals from a racial or ethnic minority background.

Malloy made the announcement two days after being publicly accused by the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP of lacking diversity within his transition effort–a charge the Malloy team quickly countered was unfounded.

“I’ve chosen people from public and private life, Republicans and Democrats, and those who have participated in state government before–as well as those who never have,” the governor-elect said in a written statement. “I’m confident that the people selected will help me find the best and brightest hires for positions within my administration and make sure we get off to a strong start.”

Malloy announced shortly after Election Day that Timothy F. Bannon of Manchester, head of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and holder of several key posts in former Gov. William A. O’Neill’s administration, would be his chief of staff, and that Bannon and Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman would co-chair the transition effort.

Several of those appointed have strong backgrounds in state government.

Lorraine M. Aronson, who is Bannon’s wife, is a former chief financial officer for the University of Connecticut, is a former deputy budget director under Govs. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. and John G. Rowland, and commissioner of the Department of Income Maintenance–the forerunner of the Department of Social Services – under O’Neill.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford has served eight years in the legislature and co-chairs the powerful Judiciary Committee.

Former Superior Court Judge Kathryn Emmert of Stamford also is a past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers’ Association.

Mark Ojakian has served as deputy comptroller since 1995.

A former mayor of Stamford for 14 years, Malloy named three mayors, Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Adam Salina of Berlin and Scott Jackson of Hamden, to the transition.

Among the business and labor leaders Malloy tapped are: Northeast Utilities senior vice president Greg Butler; Juanita James, the recently retired chief marketing and communications officer for Pitney Bowes Inc.; Johnna Torsone, the executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Pitney Bowes; longtime state AFL-CIO President John W. Olsen; Ben Cozzi, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 478; and Shawn Wooden, a partner with Day Pitney LLP and formerly an official with the national AFL-CIO’s investment office.

Malloy also appointed Joseph McGee of Fairfield, a former state economic development commissioner and currently a vice president for the Business Council of Fairfield County.

Having pledged in the last campaign to protect Connecticut’s social service safety net, Malloy named several individuals from the private, nonprofit community to assist with the transition, including, Marilda Gandara, who has held leadership roles with several groups including the Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders Collaborative, which raised over $50 million for Latino-linked nonprofits; Linda Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Len Miller, co-founder of the Nonprofit Collaborative Alliance; and Sanford Cloud Jr., chairman of the Connecticut Health Foundation.

Malloy also reached into his most recent campaign and his 2006 gubernatorial run for political advice.

Roy Occhiogrosso, a partner with the Global Strategy Consulting Group and senior advisor to the 2010 campaign, was chosen, as was Chris Cooney, Malloy’s campaign manager in 2006 and president of The Wilmark Group, a marketing consulting firm.

“These teams reflect the diversity of opinion, experience, political party, and cultural background that make Connecticut the great state it is,” Malloy added.

The governor-elect was chastised Saturday by the Connecticut NAACP, which released a list of nine individuals–all of whom are white–that it believed were involved in the transition effort, adding it reflected a “shameful” lack of diversity.

But the Malloy transition quickly responded Saturday that half of the names were incorrect, that the transition team would be diverse, and that it still was a few days away from being announced.

The group Malloy announced today includes eight individuals who are African-American or Hispanic. Segarra, a native of Puerto Rico, is Hartford’s first openly gay mayor. McDonald and Ojakian also are gay.

Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile said Monday that “my major concern is that this is not window dressing” and that minorities serving on the transition effort “have a relationship of substance” and don’t play merely a symbolic role.

Esdaile added he hopes to meet with Malloy soon to discuss the transition further.