(HARTFORD, CT) – Mayor-elect Luke Bronin today announced the first round of appointments to his incoming administration. The appointments announced today include:

  • Thea Montañez, Chief of Staff
  • Janice Castle, Director of Community Engagement
  • Samaia Hernández, Director of Communications
  • DeVaughn Ward, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Mubera Bećirović, Executive Assistant

“On the campaign trail, I promised to bring new leadership and accountability to City Hall, and we’re assembling a team that’s committed to making good on that pledge,” said Bronin. “We have an obligation to change the way the city operates, and I look forward to working with each of these individuals as we try to get Hartford working again.”

Bronin added that additional hires will be announced in the coming weeks. For a bio of each person announced today, see below.

Thea Montañez, a Hartford native, most recently served as the Director of the North Hartford Promise Zone. She has also founded her own consulting firm and previously led the local grant making and sponsorship program for The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. Ms. Montañez has served — and continues to serve — on numerous boards of not-for-profit organizations, including the Hartford Public Library, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, and the University of Saint Joseph. Among other awards, she was named Connecticut Magazine’s “40 under 40,” a Connecticut Women’s Alliance “Woman of Distinction,” and one of Connecticut’s 50 Most Influential Latinos by Latinos United for Professional Advancement. Ms. Montañez is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a graduate of Syracuse University.

Janice Castle was born and raised on the island of Grenada and moved to Hartford with her family in 1993. Most recently, she served as a senior consultant for university relations within the human resources Department at Travelers. Before that, Ms. Castle spent over 15 years with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. She is the President of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Young Professionals Group and also involved with ConnectiKids, Junior Achievement, Foodshare’s Walk Against Hunger, and Greater Hartford Jazz Fest. Ms. Castle graduated from Trinity College and from the University of Connecticut, where she earned a masters in public administration and a certificate in nonprofit management.

DeVaughn Ward, a Hartford native and an attorney, most recently served in the administration of Governor Dannel P. Malloy at the State Department of Public Health as the legislative liaison and executive assistant to the Commissioner. He has also worked in private practice concentrating on real estate matters and as a policy analyst with the Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus. Attorney Ward has been active in a variety of organizations, including serving as a board member of the Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative, a nonprofit law firm that serves many North End nonprofit organizations. Leadership Greater Hartford awarded him their 2013 Polaris Award for helping create opportunities for those less privileged in the Greater Hartford area. He is an alumni of Howard University and of the University of Connecticut, where he received a law degree and a certificate in public policy.

Samaia Hernández most recently served as director of communications for Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. Before that, she served as press secretary for Governor Dannel P. Malloy, while co-chairing a task force on state communications and advocating for services that disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in cities like Hartford. Previously, Ms. Hernández worked as an award-winning multimedia journalist at Connecticut Public Radio/WNPR, the Hartford Courant, and the Meriden Record-Journal. Hartford’s Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters presented Ms. Hernández with the 2014 Victoria L. Soto Memorial Award “for mentoring excellence” in honor of the heroic teacher killed at Sandy Hook School. She is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Mubera Bećirović was born in Bosnia and moved to Hartford as a refugee at a young age. She is the co-founder of the Bosnian American Youth Association, a non-profit that aims to promote intercultural relations in greater Hartford. She has also served as an intern at Pratt & Whitney, a soccer coach at Classical Magnet School, and an administrative assistant for Youth United for Survival. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut.


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