Emerging from her initial Cabinet meeting as governor, Maura Healey on Friday issued an executive order cementing a Cabinet-level climate chief in her administration and reappointed her predecessor’s public safety secretary, marking some of her first acts in office.
The executive action, officially order No. 604, makes official a campaign promise to create the first-of-its-kind position within Healey’s inner circle in a bid to create a “whole-of-government response” to climate change in Massachusetts.
Melissa Hoffer, a former attorney at the Environmental Protection Agency and an assistant attorney general under Healey, will fill the seat as well as lead a newly created Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience. Through that office, Hoffer will, among a range of duties, advise Healey, help apply and administer federal funds, and ensure all executive agencies “follow sustainable climate practices,” according to the order.
Hoffer will also submit within 180 days recommendations about how better to align “department decision-making” on climate issues, Healey said. Every secretariat will also have to name its own “climate officer” to implement the administration’s climate directives.
The order is both logistical and symbolic. Hoffer was named to the post weeks ago, but as Healey’s first order, it’s designed to underscore climate change as one of the Cambridge Democrat’s top priorities as she takes the reins of the state’s hulking bureaucracy.
“We have no time to delay,” Healey said at a State House news conference. “The climate crisis threatens every aspect of Massachusetts life. … It is our greatest challenge.”
Gathered with members of her still-forming Cabinet in the executive suite’s lobby, Healey said she reappointed Terrence Reidy as the state’s public safety secretary, keeping him in a role that he filled under now-former governor Charlie Baker.
Baker had elevated Reidy, a former assistant attorney general and prosecutor in Worcester and Suffolk counties, into his Cabinet in 2021, first on an acting basis.
Last year, Baker proposed, and the Legislature agreed, to eliminate the monthly fees the state charges those on probation and parole, a move one Senate Democrat viewed as a reflection of Reidy’s advocacy of “more progressive reforms” within the Republican’s administration.
“He has a proven record of keeping our communities safe,” Healey said Friday.
Reidy is the only member of Baker’s Cabinet who so far has remained in Healey’s as a full-time appointment.
Healey is still in the process of solidifying the group. She announced Friday that Mike Doheny, a general counsel and undersecretary of labor, would serve as her acting labor and workforce secretary while she searches for a permanent appointment.
Healey aides said Jennifer Maddox, an undersecretary at the Department of Housing and Community Development under Baker, is also serving as acting secretary for housing and economic development. Healey’s choice as economic development secretary won’t be sworn in until Jan. 17, and Healey has said she plans to file legislation to create a separate housing secretary — effectively splitting what is now one secretary seat into two.
A law passed last year elevates the state’s secretary of veterans’ services to a Cabinet-level position, effective in March. Asked on Friday if she had made that selection yet, Healey said that as of “right now, the current infrastructure is in place.”
Healey swore in the members of her Cabinet earlier Friday in the governor’s ceremonial office, before holding her first Cabinet meeting in the nearby Governor’s Council chamber.
Of Healey’s eight Cabinet-level appointments who aren’t in acting roles thus far, four are men and four are women, and six of them are white.
“We want to have a team that reflects the diversity of this Commonwealth, diversity in so many different ways. And we also were looking for people who brought the energy, the urgency — we know people are demanding action, as they should — and people who are going to be great team players,” Healey said Friday. “I’m really proud of this Cabinet.”
Healey began her full day as governor after celebrating her inauguration Thursday night at TD Garden. She spent eight years working across the street in the John W. McCormack Building, which houses the attorney general’s office, among other state agencies, meaning her first day back at least meant taking a “different gate” to her office.
“The work is the work,” she said. “This is the best part of it.”