Kathleen Matthews greets a guest at the National Peace Corps Association 50th anniversary dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington in this 2011 photo. (Rebecca D'Angelo/For The Washington Post)

Former Marriott executive and local news anchor Kathleen Matthews launched her candidacy for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District seat on Wednesday, kicking off her 2016 campaign with an early morning announcement in downtown Silver Spring.

Matthews said she will bring “an opportunity agenda” for women and children to the campaign, focusing on pay equity, reproductive rights and an increased minimum wage.

Matthews adds a celebrity wild card to the field of Democrats seeking to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Barbara A. Mikulski (D).

She brings a name well known both from her 25 years as a reporter and anchor for WJLA and her marriage to MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews. Their deep network of friends and allies in Washington is likely to be a boon to fundraising.

[Chris Matthews may be most challenging campaign spouse since Bill Clinton]

But she’ll also be a novice candidate competing in next April’s Democratic primary against a group of relatively seasoned politicians.

So far, the field includes Dels. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery) and Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery), state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) and former Obama White House aide Will Jawando.

Matthews said she brings her own background to the race. “I bring experience as a working mother who raised three children, as a longtime advocate for women and children” and as a business leader, she said.

Matthews, who lives in Chevy Chase, resigned last month from her post as chief global communications and public affairs officer for Marriott, where she worked for nearly a decade.

After her announcement on Wednesday, she visited the Kensington Park Senior Living Center and Dawson’s Market in Rockville Town Center.

Asked whether her husband offered any advice for her on her first day as a candidate, Matthews said: “He said to smile.”