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Dan Koh, former Walsh aide, to become Labor Department’s chief of staff

Dan Koh, center, then a candidate for Congress, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, left, greeted potential voters in Haverhill in 2018.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON — Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is bringing a familiar face to Washington to join him at the Department of Labor: his former chief of staff, Dan Koh.

Koh, 36, is set to start the job Tuesday, with the same title, according to a person familiar with the move. Walsh has been tapped by President Biden to serve as secretary of labor — a nomination that advanced with a bipartisan committee vote earlier this month. He is expected to be easily approved by the full Senate, although a vote has not yet been scheduled.

Koh did not respond to a request for comment, and Walsh’s communications office declined to comment. The Department of Labor also declined to comment.


Koh was Walsh’s first chief of staff, stepping into the role in 2014 at the age of 29 after having served as chief of staff to Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post. He brought a tech-savvy jolt of energy — and a proclivity for stepping into the limelight — to Walsh’s inner circle of veteran Boston politicos.

“We’ve really learned off each other,” Walsh told the Globe for a 2016 profile of Koh. “I’m certainly more analytical now . . . he’s picked up a lot of my passion for politics.”

Koh left the post in 2017 to run for Congress in Massachusetts’ Third District after then-Representative Niki Tsongas announced her retirement. Despite his mammoth fund-raising, he lost the Democratic primary to Lori Trahan by 145 votes. He was elected to the Andover Board of Selectmen in 2019 and mulled a rematch with Trahan that year before deciding against running.

Koh grew up in Andover in a family steeped in government: His grandfather was South Korea’s ambassador to the United States. His father, Howard Koh, was assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. And his uncle advised Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.


Jess Bidgood can be reached at Jess.Bidgood@globe.com. Follow her @jessbidgood.