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New Employment Chief Has Communications Background

Mayor Fenty named Joseph P. Walsh, a state government official from Massachusetts, as the new head of the city's Department of Employment Services today. Walsh has worked for two years in Gov. Deval Patrick's Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Here's the story.

Upon reviewing Walsh's complete biography, D.C. Wire noticed this final sentence (bold is ours): "... he oversees and directs strategic policy initiatives, coordinates overall policy direction, executes various initiatives to improve public education, and manages the press and communications staff for Governor Patrick."

Seems Fenty, the ever-media concious mayor, gets a two-fer with this hire--someone with experience in job creation and workforce development, but also someone familiar with communications strategy. Walsh used to work as a consultant, including media strategy.

For an agency battered by negative press all summer after the meltdown of Fenty's summer youth employment program, a good public relations strategy could be important.

When D.C. Wire caught up with Walsh at a news conference this morning in Northeast, he said he was aware of the problems with the jobs program but had not examined the matter closely. He will start work Dec. 1.

"We want to take a look at the system and fix it," he said, adding that Fenty has stressed his commitment to finding challenging jobs for all students. "The mayor has made it very clear that his goal is to hire as many young people as possible."

Walsh, who worked with Boston to help its summer jobs program, said he had a long talk with City Administrator Dan Tangherlini about ways to develop public-sector jobs for youth during a challenging economic period. Tangherlini has talked about developing a "green team" run by the Department of the Environment, in which students would be assigned to clean public parks and paint buildings.

"We are interested in finding ways to give people more public employment opportunities in which they have a good experience and which benefit the community directly," Walsh said.

Update 4:07 p.m.: Walsh will earn $160,000 a year. His predecessor, Summer Spencer, who resigned under pressure in August after the summer jobs program fiasco, earned $137,000.

Update 5:11 p.m.: Turns out, Walsh's communications duties for Gov. Patrick were overstated in the biography distributed by Fenty's office. Walsh oversaw just a small communications team in the Labor and Workforce Development office, said his boss Suzanne Bump, who oversees that agency. Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said the sentence in the bio was written in error. The revised bio is now attached after the jump.

Joseph P. Walsh, Jr. serves as the Director of Policy and Planning in the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Educated in Massachusetts, Walsh obtained his degree in Political Science at the College of the Holy Cross and then continued his education eleven years later to earn his Master's in Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

While Mr. Walsh's commitment to public service dates back to the Dukakis-Bentsen campaign of the late 1980s, his first professional endeavor in Washington, DC led him to the Close-Up Foundation, where he taught politics, government, and civic participation skills to high school students, managed teams of instructors, and conducted the teacher education program.

For the next two years, Walsh served in the Clinton White House as the Education Director of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. In that capacity, he directed the education program for arguably the nation's most prestigious fellowship for leadership and public service.

After a year serving as the Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Salem, Massachusetts, Mr. Walsh began his career in planning and development work as the city's Director of Planning, Community and Economic Development for four years. There he developed, managed, and strategized for economic, transportation, housing, and neighborhood revitalization plans. He moved on from city government to join the private sector as a consultant on strategy, public policy, government relations, and communications for two years.

In 2006, Mr. Walsh continued his commitment to education at his graduate alma mater as the Director of Harvard's Executive Education Program in leadership, public policy development, communications, and strategic management for senior-level government officials.

Following a brief stint in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Division of Unemployment Assistance as Chief of Staff/Policy and Operations Advisor, Walsh was tapped by Patrick's administration to become the Director of Policy and Planning for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Of Walsh's most notable duties as Director, he oversees and directs strategic policy initiatives, coordinates overall policy direction, and assists the Secretary's primary goals of closing the "skills gap", increasing the participation of youth in the labor force, and launching new "Regional Workforce Strategy Initiative" to better align the education system with workers' needs. He also manages the press and communications staff for the Secretary.

By David A Nakamura  |  November 6, 2008; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  Mayor Fenty  
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His bio sounds impressive and makes you wonder why in the world would he want to fool around with Fenty.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 7, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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