City Council President Sheila Dixon, who will become Baltimore's mayor in January, announced a 47-member transition team yesterday that includes business, nonprofit, health care and church leaders who will help hire employees and craft policy priorities for her administration next year.
The team, which is made up of five committees - leadership, economic and neighborhood development, education and intergovernmental affairs, constituent services, and community and social services - draws on a wide range of Baltimore institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and several prominent businesses.
"The response was overwhelming, and I appreciate their efforts," said Dixon, 52, who will become the city's first female mayor next year. "I shared with them that many of my friends and supporters stressed to me [that I should] surround myself with smart people and talented people."
Dixon and several members of the committee confirmed that the group met for the first time yesterday in the offices of Atwood "Woody" Collins III, head of M&T; Bank Corp.'s Mid-Atlantic division. Dixon said she asked the group to be candid about how city agencies are functioning, to evaluate their performance in the context of the new citywide master plan, and to set broad goals for economic development.
The council president will become mayor in January when Martin O'Malley is inaugurated as Maryland's governor. Dixon will serve until December, but must run for election in September's primary - and November's general election - if she wants to serve a full, four-year term. Many believe that the election will, in part, be a referendum on her next several months in office.
Dixon has quickly assembled a transition plan and a team of well-respected Baltimoreans to prepare for the next several weeks. If many current administration members follow O'Malley to Annapolis, Dixon will have to recruit candidates to fill vacancies on her Cabinet, in the mayor's office and throughout city government - fast.
"I think generally she is doing all the right things," said Lenneal J. Henderson, a political science professor and a senior fellow at the William Donald Schaefer Center for Public Policy at the University of Baltimore. "What she has going for her is a tremendously detailed and in-depth experience in city government. This is no place for a rookie right now."
Dixon - who has served on the council for nearly 20 years, the past seven as president - appears to be surrounding herself with a team of equally experienced people.
Betty Bland-Thomas, president of the Sharp Leadenhall Planning Council, and Collins will co-chair the transition team. Andrew Frank, executive vice president of the Baltimore Development Corp., and Otis Rolley III, the city's planning director, will co-direct the effort. Both men are considered young stars in city government who are able to balance community and business interests.
That business-neighborhood nexus has been reflected throughout the wider transition team as well, displaying Dixon's hope of crafting policies that link economic and community development. But the larger team also appears to show her commitment to include public health and public schools in the equation.
"I'm impressed with the group that Sheila has brought together, and I think it should be a nice transition, building on what Mayor O'Malley has done," said James Piper Bond, chief executive of the Living Classrooms Foundation, who is serving on the committee. "The group she has brought together are people who are committed to helping Baltimore City be the best possible and to do more for the citizens."
Henderson said Dixon will have to orchestrate a successful transition to offset criticism she will face from the many candidates expected to challenge her in the 2007 election. A state prosecutor's investigation into city contracts that involved her sister and her former campaign chairman are likely to play a major part in the election.
Dixon has said the inquiry will not impede her ability to govern because she has done nothing wrong and has fully cooperated with investigators.
Each of her committees is expected to review city agencies and report on its finding within 45 days.
Kenneth R. Banks, a developer, will head up the economic and development committee. Banks, a native of Yonkers, N.Y., started his company in 1980 and is treasurer for the Maryland Democratic Party.
Former state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman is leading the education and intergovernmental affairs committee. She is a partner at the Artemis Group, a consulting company specializing in ways to establish partnerships between public agencies and private firms.
Mark L. Wasserman, senior vice president of external affairs for the University of Maryland Health Systems, will chair the committee focused on the constituent services and the mayor's office.
And Scot T. Spencer, the Baltimore relations manager at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will head the community and social services committee.
Dixon has selected other transition members from the nonprofit sector, the local business community, health care and religious organizations. Church leaders include the Rev. Jamal Harrison-Bryant, founder and pastor of the Empowerment Temple, and the Rev. Walter Scott Thomas, pastor at New Psalmist Baptist Church.
Dixon said she spoke personally with each of the members to invite them to participate. She said she made those calls over a two-week period.
"I wanted very talented and smart people who have a commitment and have a loyalty and a love for Baltimore City," she said.
Sheila Dixon's transition team
Betty Bland-Thomas, president, Sharp Leadenhall Planning Council
Atwood "Woody" Collins III, president & COO, M&T; Bank's Mid-Atlantic division and vice chair, Greater Baltimore Committee
Andrew Frank, executive vice president, Baltimore Development Corp.
Otis Rolley III, director of planning, Baltimore City
Economic and Neighborhood Development
Kenneth R. Banks, president, Banks Contracting, and treasurer, Maryland Democratic Party
Education and Intergovernmental Affairs
Barbara A. Hoffman, partner, the Artemis Group, former state senator
Office of the Mayor and Constituent Services
Mark L. Wasserman, senior vice president of External Affairs, University of Maryland Health Systems
Community and Social Services
Scot T. Spencer, manager of Baltimore relations, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Percy Allen II, retired CEO, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System
Diane Bell-McCoy, president and CEO, Associated Black Charities of Maryland
James Piper Bond, president and CEO, Living Classrooms Foundation
Edie Brown, president, Edie Brown & Associates
Javier Bustamante, chair, Hispanic Roundtable
Priscilla Carroll, general counsel and senior development director, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc.
Jackie Cornish, executive director, Druid Heights Community Development Corp.
Robert C Embry Jr., president, the Abell Foundation
Anne Emory, retired assistant superintendent, city schools
Jay French, the French Co. Inc.
Donald Fry, president, Greater Baltimore Committee
Laura Gamble, president, Maryland, Bank of America
Benjamin Glenn, Eastern District representative, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America
Vera P. Hall, educator, community activist and former head of the Maryland Democratic Party
Michael Hankin, partner and CEO, Brown Advisory
The Rev. Jamal Harrison-Bryant, founder and pastor, Empowerment Temple
Bert Hash Jr., president and CEO, Municipal Employees Credit Union
State Sen. Verna L. Jones, chair, Maryland Legislative Black Caucus
Laurence Katz, dean emeritus, University of Baltimore School of Law
Eun "Ann" Kim, CPA, founder and president, Coalition of Korean American Organizations
Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III, executive vice president, Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors
Del. Salima S. Marriott
J.S. Park, senior adviser to KAGRO, J&J; Discount Liquors
Ronald Peterson, president, Johns Hopkins Health System
Milli Pierce, president, CEO, Fund for Educational Excellence
J. Scott Plank, senior vice president of retail, Under Armour
Nicolas Ramos, president, Spanish Business Association
Kelly Ray, vice president, government relations, Health Facilities Associations of Maryland
William Roberts, president, Verizon Maryland
Debbie Rock, president, LIGHT Health & Wellness Inc.
Edward Rutkowski, executive director, Patterson Park CDC
Laurie Schwartz, president, LS Consulting Inc.
Mark Sissman, president, Healthy Neighborhoods Inc.
Lillian Sydnor, commissioner, Human Services Commission
The Rev. Walter Scott Thomas, senior pastor, New Psalmist Baptist Church
Chuck Tildon, vice president marketing and communications, United Way of Central Maryland
Hector Torres, board of directors, First Mariner Bank; president, PROSABER Consulting
The Rev. Alfred C.D. Vaughn, senior pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Wim Wiewel, provost and senior vice president of academic Affairs, University of Baltimore
Thurman Zollicoffer, former city solicitor; attorney, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston
Source: Sheila Dixon's transition team