Murphy Rolls out His Senior Leadership Team


Governor-elect Phil Murphy today unveiled the senior leadership team for the incoming administration, naming the deputy chiefs of staff and directors who will work in the Governor’s Office.

“This team brings the wide range of experience, new ideas, and genuine enthusiasm needed for turning our state around and making New Jersey a state that works for all residents and not just a select few,” said Murphy. “I am confident that, together, we will change the culture in Trenton, set an example for principled leadership, and accomplish great things for New Jersey.”

Murphy had previously announced Peter Cammarano as his Chief of Staff and Matt Platkin as Chief Counsel.

The governor-elect’s senior front office staff includes:

Adam Alonso, Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, currently serves as Political Affairs Director for the gubernatorial transition. He is the founder and CEO of the Cratos Group, a Bergen County-based public affairs consulting firm. In this role, Alonso will manage the Governor’s Office public engagement, intergovernmental, and constituent relations divisions, as well as the Office of Appointments. Alonso graduated from Drew University.

Justin Braz, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, previously served as Labor Director for Victory 2017 and was Chief of Staff to Assembly Budget Chairman Gary S. Schaer from 2013 until August 2017. He also was the New Jersey Political Coordinator for 1199 SEIU and Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. Braz also is a national board member and a founding member of the New Jersey Chapter of the New Leaders Council, a leadership and professional development organization. He is a graduate of Penn State University.

Kathleen Frangione, Chief Policy Advisor, joins the administration from the Washington, DC, policy and political consultancy the Signal Group, where she is an Executive Vice President. She previously served as Senior Policy Advisor on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee under then-Senator John Kerry, acting as lead staffer on climate change issues. She also was a legislative staffer in Kerry’s Senate office, overseeing domestic and international environment, energy, and natural resources issues. She is a graduate of Harvard College and holds a master’s degree from Yale University.

Parimal Garg, Deputy Chief Counsel, served as a Senior Policy Advisor during the gubernatorial campaign, helping to formulate the campaign’s substantive positions. Prior to joining the campaign in August 2016, he clerked for New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. He previously worked as an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in Washington, DC, where his practice focused on antitrust matters, financial investigations, and appellate arguments. Garg received his B.A. from Georgetown University, magna cum laude, and J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude.

Mahen Gunaratna, Director of Communications, has served as Deputy Communications Director to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio since January 2017 and previously served as the Mayor’s Research Director and as an aide to his mayoral campaign. In 2016, he served as Florida Communications Director for the Clinton campaign during the general election and as Florida Press Secretary and Connecticut Press Secretary during the presidential primary. In 2012, he worked as New Mexico and Arizona Communications Director for Obama for America, serving as the President’s regional spokesman for the Southwest. Mahen is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Lynn Haynes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Cabinet Affairs & Operations, is a partner in the Trenton-based Advocacy & Management Group, which she joined in 2014 after four years as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Senate President Steve Sweeney and the Senate Majority Office. She also has served as Assistant Commissioner of Income Security in the New Jersey Department of Labor, and is a former state Deputy Attorney General. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a law degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN.

Joe Kelley, Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Growth, previously served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Finance Director for Murphy for Governor. His past experience includes working with numerous progressive candidates and causes, including United States Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), the 2012 Democratic Convention Host Committee, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In the 2010 election cycle, Joe served was Finance Director to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Kelley is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA with a B.A. in American History.

Mary K. E. Maples, Deputy Chief Counsel for Authorities, currently serves as Senior Counsel in the Authorities Unit. Prior to joining state government, Maples served in various roles at the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC, including Assistant General Counsel, where her broad practice included high-profile congressional investigations and support for counterterrorism litigation teams pursuing military commissions of high value detainees, including the perpetrators of the 9/11 and USS Cole attacks.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law.

Kate McDonnell, Deputy Chief Counsel, currently serves as General Counsel to the Assembly Majority Office, a position she has held for the past eight years. Prior to becoming General Counsel, she served as an Associate General Counsel in the Majority Office, where she worked in a variety of policy areas. McDonnell is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Notre Dame and holds both a J.D. from the Rutgers School of Law – Camden and a Master’s Degree from Rutgers – New Brunswick’s Bloustein School of Policy and Planning. 

Scarlett Rajski, Director of Appointments, works in the Corporate & Regulatory Affairs division at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Prior to joining Horizon, Scarlett was a Project Manager in the Government Affairs Department of Gibbons P.C. and has previously worked in public relations and communications. Scarlett also served as Special Projects Director for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. She graduated cum laude from Boston University and is pursuing a Master of Public Affairs and Politics at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy of Rutgers University. She also is Vice President of Finance for the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey and is a 2017 Fellow of the New Jersey Chapter of New Leaders Council.

Stephanie Lagos, Chief of Staff to First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy, was a Senior Policy Advisory to the Murphy for Governor campaign, and previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to Assemblyman Schaer. She hold a Master’s of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science from Christopher Newport University. Lagos served over two years in the United States Peace Corps working on Environmental Sustainability and Diplomacy.

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