Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser continued filling the top echelon of her administration Monday, naming aides to three key posts a week after naming her city administrator.
“We have very high standards, and we’re shooting high to bringing in the best and brightest people, to look in our government for the best and brightest people, and make sure they have an environment where their ideas can float to the top,” Bowser said during a news conference at McKinley Technology High School in Northeast, where she introduced the new picks and confirmed her plans to keep Cathy L. Lanier as police chief and Kaya Henderson as schools chancellor.
Kevin Donahue, a former District official under Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, will return to the John A. Wilson Building as deputy city administrator, reporting to Rashad M. Young, the Alexandria city manager named last week as Bowser’s city administrator.
Donahue directed the CapStat program under Fenty, a data-based accountability system that Bowser has pledged to resurrect. After leaving D.C. government, Donahue continued as a deputy to former city administrator Dan Tangherlini in his posts in the federal government, serving in the Treasury Department and the General Services Administration — most recently as the director of the GSA’s Performance Improvement Council.
As deputy city administrator, Bowser said, Donahue’s duties will involve pursuing a “data-driven” approach to government operations and overseeing public safety agencies. Bowser said she does not plan to appoint a deputy mayor for public safety and justice, a post that existed in the Anthony A. Williams and Vincent C. Gray administrations.
Bowser also appointed the founder and leader of one of the city’s best-performing charter schools to serve as her deputy mayor for education. Jennifer C. Niles is the founder and head of the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, which has a campus in the ward that Bowser represented on the D.C. Council for seven years. Previously, Niles directed educational initiatives for the Ball Foundation, directed the charter school office of the Connecticut Department of Education and taught in middle and high schools in California and Massachusetts.
Among Niles’s most pressing early tasks will be determining how to proceed with a controversial D.C. Public Schools boundary revision that had been championed by Gray but criticized by Bowser. She said Monday that she expected to announce a way forward “early in the year” in 2015. Niles will replace Abigail Smith, who Bowser said would not be serving in her administration.
Brenda Donald, a veteran administrator of D.C. social service programs, will become Bowser’s deputy mayor for health and human services, replacing Beatriz “B.B.” Otero.
Donald has led the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency since early 2012, where she has been credited by child welfare advocates with helping to stabilize an agency that had seen a series of crises and leadership changes. It will be Donald’s second time as a deputy mayor, following an 18-month stint under Williams as deputy mayor for children, youth, families and elders before leaving in late 2007 to become Maryland’s secretary of human resources.
In her new post, Donald will be tasked with getting a handle on the city’s inadequate response to family homelessness, including finding alternatives to housing families in the dilapidated former D.C. General Hospital. She will also be tasked with closing out decades of federal court oversight of city social service agencies, including a two-decade case concerning the agency she now runs.
Salaries for the new officials were not immediately available Monday; Bowser said they will be in line with previous appointees.