Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) and Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller (D) are turning to a trio of young but seasoned veterans of state government and politics to help them run their administration.
The Moore-Miller transition team announced Wednesday evening that Matthew Verghese will be the incoming administration’s new director of the Federal Office in Washington, D.C.; Emmanuel “Manny” Welsh will be the administration’s liaison to the Board of Public Works; and Pokuaa “PK” Owusu-Acheaw will become Miller’s chief of staff. All grew up in Maryland and have worked for state politicians and political institutions in various capacities.
“This group of leaders will serve Maryland with distinction and I’m elated to have them join our team to create a Maryland where no one is left behind,” Moore said in a statement.
Verghese has been a frequent presence by Moore’s side, both in the latter weeks of the campaign and as he traveled across the state since the election. Most recently he served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and has worked in other high-ranking positions for Brown both on Capitol Hill and in the lieutenant governor’s office.
“Matt is a veteran of Maryland and national politics who not only understands how government works but also how it can be better for those we serve,” Brown said. “As a longtime, trusted adviser I’ve seen his passion for public service and commitment to delivering real results for Marylanders.”
Verghese, the children of immigrants, additionally was a senior adviser to U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) during his 2016 campaign and was political and communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party. He also briefly ran the now-dormant Maryland Juice political blog, which had been launched by now-state Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery).
Van Hollen called Verghese “the perfect choice to be director of Federal Relations,” noting that he “knows Maryland through and through.” Van Hollen served in the state’s Federal Relations Office under the late Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D).
Born in the Philippines, Welsh is taking the title of Board of Public Works executive and will join the administration from the office of Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), where he has been chief of staff since the fall of 2020. He has worked for the comptroller’s office since 2015, beginning in the communications office, and has helped handle Franchot’s BPW portfolio since 2016. His family moved to Maryland in 2003.
“Manny is one of the brightest young minds in Maryland government whose work ethic and character are beyond measure,” Franchot said.
Owusu-Acheaw most recently led the political and legislative affairs shop at the Maryland State Education Association. The teachers’ union was an early endorser of Moore during the Democratic primary, lending legitimacy and momentum to his bid.
Owusu-Acheaw, an attorney who grew up in Prince George’s County, came to MSEA after working as government affairs liaison to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D). She has also served as Prince George’s County regional director for Van Hollen and as chief of staff to state Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s).
“PK has a special combination of passion for serving the state she loves and the natural talent to excel,” Van Hollen said. Alsobrooks called her “an avid team player who knows how to lead.”
Along with these appointments, Moore has hired a chief of staff, three deputy chiefs of staff and an assistant chief of staff. He has also appointed a chief legislative officer and chief counsel, and nominated a Budget secretary and an Appointments secretary. The nominee for Budget secretary, Helene Grady, will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.
Moore is expected to announce some additional hires within the next few days.