STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 2, 2017…..Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ron Walker is resigning from the Baker administration and will be replaced by banking executive Rosalin Acosta.
At a press conference in the lobby of his office, Baker announced the first departure from his Cabinet, highlighted Walker’s accomplishments in the post, and described the departing secretary as “the consummate gentleman, the consummate team player” and “completely unafraid of innovation.”
“We are very grateful you were willing to spend the time you had serving with us,” Baker told Walker, who he said will return to the private sector. “We also were lucky enough to land upon someone to succeed Ron over the course of the past several months. Rosalin Acosta will pick up the ball and run with it as Ron departs.”
Acosta, who recently stepped down as senior vice president and managing director for Enterprise Wealth Management at Enterprise Bank in Lowell, will take over the role on July 1, Baker said.
Acosta has over 30 years of experience in the financial and banking services sector, according to the Baker administration, including senior executive roles at TD Bank and the former Sovereign Bank, now Santander. She was born in Cuba and is the mother of five children.
A 2016 Baker appointee to the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees, Acosta also serves as a director and planning member of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board.
Baker pointed out that while attending Wesleyan University, Acosta was a member of the women’s varsity ice hockey team. “Don’t mess with Ros,” he said.
Acosta said she looks forward to “continuing the positive momentum that already exists” within the secretariat by making sure the state’s workforce “is ready to meet the needs of our employers.”
Economists have flagged an aging workforce, a need for skilled workers and immigration policies as issues of concern for economic growth in Massachusetts.
“We are very fortunate to live in a state with incredible diversity of industries and a talented workforce,” she said. “Our health care and educational institutions are among the most well-respected throughout the country and the world. Behind all that success is a skilled and driven workforce vital to the reputation we enjoy.”
Walker is among the Democrat members of the Republican governor’s cabinet. Acosta has contributed to several Democratic candidates over the past 11 years, according to state campaign finance records, including former Gov. Deval Patrick.
Walker is the first Cabinet official to leave Baker’s team. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash flirted with the idea of leaving, but opted to stay on.
In December, three months after Ash withdrew his name from consideration for the Cambridge city manager’s job, Baker told the News Service he did not expect any changes to his Cabinet for the remainder of his first term.
“I think most people feel pretty jazzed about the work that they’re doing, and a lot of the stuff that we’ve taken on isn’t stuff that’s going to get fixed in a year or two, so I would expect that the people will be here for the full term,” Baker said at the time.
On Friday Baker said Walker “made clear to us when he joined the administration that he was a private sector guy who was going to come play in the public sector for a while and then would eventually move back into the private sector.”
Walker said the time was right for him to leave, citing progress around jobs, economic development and closing the workforce skills gap.
“Those goals have been done, and it’s time to move on to the next level,” he said.
Walker said he wanted to spend some time with his family before returning to the business world. He said he does not have a specific job lined up.
Baker said people in public sector jobs face a challenge when seeking their next professional opportunities.
“I want to give Ron some credit here for basically saying, ‘I’m going to run through the tape, I’m going to finish my term, I’m not going to, you know, distract myself from my organization by spending a lot of time figuring out what I’m going to do next,'” Baker said.
Baker on Thursday filed legislation that would re-establish the existing Massachusetts Office of Information Technology into the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, which would give him the opportunity to appoint another new secretary.
Asked if he had anyone in mind to serve as the new technology secretary, Baker said he wanted to see if his bill would clear the Legislature first “and then we can talk about that.” He went on to praise current MassIT executive director Mark Nunnelly and his team.
Copyright 2017 State House News Service