Moore announces nominees to lead new Service and Civic Innovation office and military department
A new Cabinet-level department created by Gov. Wes Moore (D) now has a new secretary nominee.
Moore tapped Paul Monteiro to lead the new Department of Service and Civic Innovation. The announcement comes in the waning days of the governor’s first legislative session.
“Paul’s nomination is the result of months long and a nationwide search to find someone with the vision, with the experience, with the integrity and the skill to unleash the full potential of this new department,” said Moore. “We wanted to get this one right.”
The announcement comes with a week remaining in the General Assembly session.
Monteiro began meeting with Senators immediately after Moore introduced his nominee to reporters.
The whirlwind tour is expected to end with a hearing before the Senate Executive Nominations Committee and a full Senate vote as early as the end of the week.
Moore has made the creation of a service year program a top priority of his fledgling administration.
He issued an executive order in his first full day in office creating the Department of Service and Civic Innovation. The creation of the agency is now codified in legislation that will soon head to Moore’s desk for his signature.
The program, as envisioned by Moore, would take on an initial 200 participants in its first year. By 2027, the program could include up to 2,000 high school graduates, all of whom would be paid a stipend during their service time.
Moore’s selection of Monteiro follows a search period that began as Moore proposed his new department and as some lawmakers grew antsy about creating a new Cabinet-level position that had no leader.
Monteiro, 42, currently serves as the director of the Community Relations Service at the U.S. Department of Justice. The agency focuses on conflict resolution.
“The generation of high school students coming up now and on track to graduate are some of the most creative and thoughtful about the issues that will shape the world they inherited,” said Monteiro, whose grandparents met when his grandfather served in the Peace Corps in Palau, Micronesia. “Their voices will be central to building the service year option. Building on the groundwork established by the governor and his team. Our aim is to build an authentic, substantive and challenging experience for our graduates to obtain invaluable, hard and soft skills, financial support to pursue higher education, even as they use the year to discern where their interests and talents are best developed and hopefully find a sense of greater purpose for their life.”
Monteiro holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland and a law degree from Howard University.
In 2014, he served as the national director of AmeriCorps VISTA, a national volunteer service organization.
Monteiro unsuccessfully ran for Prince George’s County executive in 2018. Karine Jean-Pierre, the current spokesperson for President Joseph Biden, served as Monteiro’s campaign chair, according to state elections records.
Adjutant General nominee picked
Moore on Monday also nominated Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead to be the state’s adjutant general.
Birckhead has had a long career in the Maryland Army National Guard, dating back to the 1990s.
In January 2021, just days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Birckhead was commander of the Task Force Capitol Grounds, where she led the troops charged with protecting the Capitol during President Biden’s inauguration.
A month later, then-Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appointed Birckhead to lead the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force, asking her to ensure that the vaccines were reaching underserved communities.
In her civilian job, Birckhead has worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior, most recently in the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, which provides banking and investment services to Native American beneficiaries who earn royalty income from activities on federally managed land.
The adjutant general is responsible for the daily operations of the Maryland Military Department, which includes the Maryland Army National Guard, Maryland Air National Guard, Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and Maryland Defense Force.
Senate Executive Nominations Committee Chair Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel) said Monday that both nominees will get a hearing by the committee this week.
Maryland Matters reporter Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.