St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch Wednesday announced a number of key staff positions ahead of his inauguration Thursday.
Welch tapped Stephanie Owens, a veteran of the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidential administrations, to serve as Deputy Mayor and chief of policy. Florida Politics Senior Editor Janelle Irwin Taylor will join the administration as director of communications. And Tom Greene will move from assistant city administrator to interim city administrator.
“Inclusive progress for our city will take a focused commitment to equity, innovation, collaboration and community impact,” Welch said in a news release. “I am thrilled to welcome these new staff members to the excellent team already in place at City Hall. Each has a depth of experience and dedication to our city that will serve citizens well.”
Owens had been Welch’s transition director and campaign manager. Welch said she’s bringing more than 20 years of public policy experience to the role. She held high-level positions in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While with HHS she helped craft policies to implement the Affordable Care Act. She also helped with recovery along the Gulf Coast after the Deep Horizon oil spill while working with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Ms. Owens’ leadership, policy experience, and commitment to the mission of innovation and inclusion have played a key role in our success,” Welch said. “As Deputy Mayor and chief of policy, she will continue her stellar public service to develop effective and impactful policy and programs that lift up every St. Petersburg resident.”
Irwin Taylor joins the administration after more than a decade of covering politics in the Tampa Bay area. Her work has appeared in Creative Loafing, the Tampa Bay Business Journal and on WMNF Community Radio where she also hosted a call-in news show. Irwin Taylor often appears on television and radio offering insight and analysis of political goings on.
Greene has been assistant city administrator since 2018. Before that, he was the city’s budget director and worked previously as an investment banker.
Welch also announced Doyle Walsh, a former aide to Pinellas County Commissioner Janet C. Long, will serve as a senior adviser.
Welch, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, will be sworn in as the 54th Mayor of St. Petersburg Thursday morning in a virtual ceremony.