(HARTFORD, CT) – Ten days after announcing his first round of appointments, Mayor-Elect Luke Bronin today announced his intention to nominate the following individuals to lead departments in his incoming administration, subject to approval by the City Council:
• Sean M. Fitzpatrick, JD, Director of Development Services
• Reginald D. Freeman, MS/CFO/FIFireE, Fire Chief
• Melissa McCaw, MPA, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
• Gary Rhule, MD/MPH, Director of Health and Human Services
• Howard Rifkin, JD, Corporation Counsel
Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, who currently serves as the Acting Deputy Director in the Department of Public Works, will serve as the Acting Director of the Department of Public Works.
Mayor-Elect Bronin intends to renominate Dr. Jose Colón-Rivas, Director of the Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation, and Sabina Sitaru, Chief Innovation Officer, Metro Hartford Innovation Services. Police Chief James Rovella will continue to serve under his existing contract with the City of Hartford.
“I’m proud to have recruited a experienced and diverse group of nominees who are committed to building a stronger Hartford,” said Bronin. “This is a terrific team, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come to bring leadership, accountability and action to Hartford’s City Hall.”
For a biography of each new appointee announced today, see below.
Marilynn Cruz-Aponte has held public works leadership positions in Hartford and New Britain over the course of her twenty-six year career, specializing in solid waste, fleet and streets operations planning including policy, procedure and program development, review and implementation. Her earlier career was spent working for nearly ten years as an Environmental Aide to Connecticut Governor William A. O’Neill. She prepared and successfully advocated for the United States’ first mattress recycling law, and she drove the implementation of Hartford’s single-stream recycling program in 2008, which increased recycling by 111% that year and has resulted in waste disposal savings of more than $3.2 million over the past seven years. She holds an MA in Social Work Administration from the Catholic University of America and a BA in Sociology from Saint Joseph College for Women.
Sean M. Fitzpatrick most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, John Degnan, who was appointed to lead reform efforts at the agency in the wake of the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal. Before entering government service in 2014, Mr. Fitzpatrick spent two decades in the insurance industry in Metro Hartford and New York, helping to establish one of the region’s most successful insurance start-ups, Executive Risk Inc., in the 1990s and later serving in senior executive roles with Chubb and The Hartford. Mr. Fitzpatrick has served as chair of Simsbury’s Economic Development Commission and was named “Business Leader of the Year” by the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce in 2000 in recognition of his work on retail development and zoning reform. Mr. Fitzpatrick has served as a board member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and as an adjunct professor at UConn Law School. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School.
Reginald D. Freeman currently serves as Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. Prior to this appointment, Chief Freeman served as the Assistant Chief/Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the City of Hartford as well as Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia, where he was named Professional of the Year in 2009. Chief Freeman served in Iraq as a civilian Fire Chief for the U.S. Department of Defense and coalition allies from 2004 to 2008, providing all-hazards fire and emergency services to forward and continuing operating bases throughout Iraq. He received a BA from Bellevue University and earned his masters in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a graduate and Fellow of Harvard University’s Senior Executives for State & Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government.
Melissa McCaw is a seasoned professional with fourteen years’ experience in budgeting, finance, data analytics and strategic leadership. She currently serves as the Budget Director for the University of Hartford. In this capacity, Ms. McCaw also co-chaired Strategic Planning initiatives to strengthen the University’s financial and business model, maximize the use of assets and technology, and streamline operations. Previously, Ms. McCaw worked at the State Office of Policy and Management Budget and Financial Management Division for eight years, developing her expertise in government budgeting, policy analysis and legislative affairs. She graduated from Wesleyan University and received a masters in public administration with a certificate in public financial management from the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Gary Rhule is a former emergency room physician who has also worked in community medicine, managed care, and in health care consulting. In addition, he is the author of Sailing on Broken Pieces: Essential Survival Skills for Recovery from Mental Illness, an award-winning literary work depicting the intersection of emergency medicine and mental illness. Currently, Dr. Rhule works as a medical director consultant for Community Health Network of Connecticut. Previously, he has served in several leadership roles, including as Vice President of Health Care Services and Medical Director for Charter Oak Health Care Center in Hartford, CT. Dr. Rhule is a graduate of Weaver High School, Amherst College, and the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He also holds a masters in public health in healthcare policy from the Johns Hopkins University and an MBA in Finance and Healthcare Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is involved in several non-profit boards, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Connecticut Chapter; the Jacob L. and Lewis Fox Foundation; and the Friends of Keney Park.
Howard Rifkin has spent more than 30 years serving as a policy and legal advisor to several elected officials in the State of Connecticut, including as general counsel to Governor William A. O’Neill. He has also served as deputy to Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport, and deputy and counsel to Treasurer Denise Nappier. Most recently, he joined the staff of Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman as legal and policy adviser. Prior to his role in Lt. Governor Wyman’s office, Mr. Rifkin served a three-year tenure as executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a nonprofit group with a focus on creating affordable housing and ending homelessness. In this role, he and Mayor-Elect Bronin worked together on Governor Malloy’s initiative to end homelessness among veterans. Mr. Rifkin has a B.A. from the University of Connecticut in Political Science, a J.D. from Cumberland School of Law, and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government program on State and Local Government.
In addition, to the aforementioned nominees, the following individuals will be joining the incoming administration:
Kiley Gosselin, Deputy of Development Services. Kiley Gosselin most recently worked as an analyst at the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Prior to that role, she was an associate for 6 years in the low-income housing tax credit syndication group of Holland & Knight and a policy analyst at the Partnership for Strong Communities. She is a graduate of Rice University and UConn Law School.
David Tanner, Deputy of Public Works. David Tanner spent the past seven years as an attorney for the U.S. Green Building Council, helping develop policies and procedures associated with the LEED certification programs and advising on the mission and operation of the organization. He has experience in construction and transportation policy and is a graduate of the University of Colorado and UConn Law School.
Jamie Bratt, Director of Planning and Economic Development. Jamie Bratt was most recently the Director of Economic & Community Development of Trumbull, CT, and previously worked for a Washington, D.C.-based business improvement district focused on smart growth and for a large private development firm. She is a graduate of Trinity College and of Virginia Tech, where she received a masters in planning.
Donald Chapman, Director of Small Business and Community Development. Donald Chapman is a management professional with over 30 years of experience. Currently, Don serves as a Principal Planner with the City of Hartford Planning Division. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
Dianne Jones, Director for Re-entry Services and Promise Zone Community Empowerment. Dianne Jones has most recently helped promote nonviolence as a trainer and community liaison for Connecticut Center for Nonviolence, and she has been very actively involved in local nonprofit community organizations. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri and is obtaining a masters from Cambridge College.