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O'Malley chief of staff to lead Goldseker Foundation

Gov. Martin O'Malley's chief of staff will step down in May to head the Goldseker Foundation in Baltimore, the nonprofit plans to announce today.

Matt Gallagher, who has worked with O'Malley for 13 years and ran Baltimore's CitiStat operation, will succeed the retiring Timothy D. Armbruster. Armbruster ran Goldseker for 34 years, focusing its philanthropy on neighborhood revitalization and economic development.

"I've always felt a strong connection to the city, and this was a particularly exciting opportunity that hasn't been available in a generation," said Gallagher, 40.

O'Malley expects to announce Gallagher's replacement today. He praised his chief of staff — one of several high-level officials leaving the governor's office since the November election — as "one of the most talented leaders and administrators that I have ever worked with.

"Whatever effectiveness we've been able to achieve, whether it was in crime reductions in Baltimore City, or CitiStat, … StateStat and all of the improvements on the management of our state and the achievement of our strategic goals, Matt Gallagher has been at the center of that," O'Malley said.

Rick Abbruzzese, the governor's head of public affairs, and Joseph C. Bryce, O'Malley's top legislative officer, both left at the end of last year for lobbying jobs. Abbruzzese, like Gallagher, worked for O'Malley while he was mayor of Baltimore.

It's not leaving a void, the governor said.

"Good people come, good people go, good people replace them, and strategic goals remain the same," O'Malley said.

Gallagher, who is leaving state government at the end of May and starting at Goldseker in early June, will join one of the bigger foundations in a city where such organizations play an important role. Goldseker's nearly $86 million in assets in 2010 ranked it as the ninth-largest foundation in the Baltimore region, according to the New York-based Foundation Center's most recent analysis.

Gallagher "stood out as a remarkable and talented individual" amid the candidates the foundation identified in its national search, said Sharna Goldseker, chairwoman of Goldseker's transition committee. Board members appreciated his background in government and nonprofits — his first job out of college was at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra — as well as his understanding of people and issues in the region.

"He knows the Baltimore landscape better than most," said Goldseker, who also sits on the foundation's board.

For years, she said, Armbruster kept his finger on the pulse of the community and found "strategies and grantees that could leverage change." She's hoping his successor will do the same. She liked that Gallagher said he intends to quickly meet with the nonprofits funded by Goldseker.

Gallagher said he knows many of them already through his work for the city and state. He knows leaders at other foundations, too.

Rachel Garbow Monroe, president of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Owings Mills, said her organization turned to Gallagher over the years to better understand where the city or state stood on issues. She called him a calm, strategic thinker with a passion for Baltimore.

"I think he will do amazing things in this new role, and we will all be the better for it," she said.

Gallagher said his ties to the city run deep. His parents were born in Baltimore. He grew up in Hamilton in Northeast Baltimore and now lives in the Roland Park area with wife Helene Grady, a vice president at the Johns Hopkins University, and their two children.

He was an assistant deputy mayor in Philadelphia, trying to find a way back home, when a delegation from the Baltimore business community arrived in 1999 to learn more about that city's operations. That connection led to a job evaluating Baltimore agencies for the Greater Baltimore Committee, which conducted the study at O'Malley's request. From there, he joined O'Malley's new mayoral administration.

As the first head of CitiStat, he oversaw an operation that measured everything from water-main breaks to overtime pay in an effort to make city government more effective. CitiStat won Harvard University's Innovations in American Government Award in 2004, and officials around the world came calling, interested in replicating it.

"The number of foreign delegations, foreign visitors that Matt entertained in that city office in City Hall is pretty impressive," O'Malley said.

Gallagher said the city faces challenges — schools, crime, neighborhood development — and opportunities. He wants to attack the former and accelerate the latter, and he thinks a foundation is an effective platform for both.

"There's just been a lot of great things that can trace their origins back to work done by foundations in Baltimore," he said. "I'm excited to have the chance to be a part of that legacy."

jhopkins@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jsmithhopkins

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