Baltimore Deputy Mayor Faith Leach has been named city administrator, the second person to hold the newly created post in the city.
Leach, the deputy mayor of equity, health and human services, joined the administration in 2021. She has been a visible representative for Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott, leading the city’s outreach programs to squeegee workers and working on the city’s guaranteed income pilot program.
The appointment announced Tuesday requires confirmation from the Baltimore City Council.
Scott said in a news release that Leach has proved herself as a “transformational leader.”
“I look forward to seeing her excel in this new role so that we can continue to advance our work to improve city services, promote equity throughout city government, and enhance the wellbeing of our residents,” Scott said.
Leach came to Baltimore with both private and public sector experience. Before becoming deputy mayor, she worked as chief of staff for the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Foundation for nearly three years, managing its efforts to invest in workforce building, neighborhood revitalization and small businesses.
Much of Leach’s career was spent working in the District of Columbia government. She started as a fiscal policy manager and rose to become chief of staff to the deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity under Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser. She left the position in 2018, according to her LinkedIn page.
As city administrator, Leach will be charged with leading the city’s staff of roughly 12,500 employees and managing efforts to tackle some of Baltimore’s most persistent bureaucratic challenges, such as water billing and procurement systems, as well as recycling collection.
If confirmed by the council, Leach would replace Chris Shorter who left in December for a position in Prince William County, Virginia. Shorter was the city’s first administrator, a position created by a charter amendment spearheaded by Scott when he served on the City Council. Voters approved the charter amendment in the fall of 2020.
Scott argued at the time that the role was a politically neutral way to “professionalize city government.”
Shorter was paid $255,000 in fiscal year 2021, a salary that made him the second-highest-paid city employee behind Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Harrison was paid $276,375 in 2021. Scott made $189,453.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Leach said she’s excited by the new position and called the city administrator role a “dream job.”
Leach said Shorter laid a foundation that she plans to build on, focusing on core city services such as filling potholes and paving streets.
“It’s about getting back to delivering the basic city services in a high-quality way,” she said.
Leach said she expects her appointment to be submitted to the City Council in advance of the group’s meeting next week.
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Leach’s portfolio as deputy mayor includes recreation and parks, homeless services, immigrant affairs and the city’s response to the pandemic. She was paid $193,800 in fiscal year 2021.
Last summer following a deadly encounter in which a driver swung a bat at squeegee workers and was shot and killed, Leach spearheaded Scott’s squeegee collaborative, a group of business leaders, public officials, activists and squeegee workers who met and developed an action plan.
Leach has been the public face of that plan, which calls for increased outreach to workers, as well as a squeegeeing ban along six major city corridors. The ban was implemented this month.
When Shorter was nominated for the position, he faced approval from the council’s Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee, chaired by Democratic Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, before a vote of the full council.
Neither Schleifer nor Democratic Council President Nick Mosby could be reached Tuesday for comment.
Leach’s appointment is the latest staff development for Scott’s administration, which has suffered from turnover in top positions over the last year. Chief of Staff Michael Huber left in September. Communications director Cal Harris departed in February, as did Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Sunny Schnitzer and Daniel Ramos, the city’s deputy city administrator. Ramos’ replacement, Chichi Nyagah-Nash, left in June after five months in the position. Ted Carter, deputy mayor for community and economic development, departed in August amid pressure from the administration and following a multiday suspension after a complaint was filed against him.
Last week, Jason Mitchell, the city’s director of the Department of Public Works, announced his resignation effective in April.