Mayor Slay Names Mary Ellen Ponder Chief of Staff as Jeff Rainford Announces His Return to the Private Sector

Mayor Francis Slay today announced a series of staff changes:

January 14, 2015 | 2 min reading time
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Mary Ellen Ponder, having served as Director of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, will assume the duties and title of Chief of Staff next month. Ponder, 34, joined the Mayor's Office in 2009. She becomes the first female Chief of Staff in the City's history.

"Mary Ellen has in-depth experience working with – and garnering the respect of – the many different constituencies that make up our City," Mayor Slay said. "She's a seasoned policy and decision maker. She is tough when she needs to be. She is also fair."

Patrick R. Brown, 29, currently Director of Intergovernmental Relations, will add the title of Deputy Chief of Staff. His work for the Mayor over the past six years has included a focus on cycling and pedestrian policies, planning and Historic Preservation as a member of the City's Planning Commission, and carrying the Mayor's legislative agenda at the Board of Aldermen.

Todd Waelterman, formerly the Director of Streets, will assume the duties and title of Director of Operations next month. Waelterman, a civil engineer, brings 20 years of experience with the City to the job. He has become a household name as he has helped the City weather many major storms.

"Each member of my team has earned their new roles with thousands of extra hours of creative public service," Mayor Slay said. "I feel emboldened by the talent within my team and the new opportunities their varying perspectives and experiences bring to City government as I prepare for the likelihood of another term."

Rainford, 55, is the longest-serving Chief of Staff in the history of St. Louis, having been with Mayor Slay's Administration since 2001. He will leave the Mayor's Office on February 6, 2015, to return to the private sector.

"It has been thrilling, maddening, and challenging," Rainford said. "But, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It has been an absolute privilege to serve Mayor Slay and the people of St. Louis. I am very grateful for the opportunity."

"One of Jeff's best accomplishments was to build a strong team, using Room 200's many demands as a way to identify and develop talents. For the past several years, he has worked with me to be ready for the always-inevitable day when he would leave," Mayor Slay said. "Jeff's skills are apparent. He is tireless and articulate. His knack for pulling people, ideas, and resources together has made our City a better place to live, work, and play. He embodies the relentlessness that I ask of all my staff. There isn't a job in city government that he couldn't do or wouldn't try. I expect to continue to rely on his friendship and counsel. I wish Jeff the very best, and I am very confident in his continued success."

Previously, Mayor Slay announced the appointment of Greg Hayes as Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and last year, the appointment of Winston Calvert as City Counselor and Rich Gray as Director of Public Safety. Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Eddie Roth, recently became the Director of Human Services. Former Director of Operations Sam Dotson became Police Chief.

Mayor Slay said he expects to announce some additional changes over the next several months.

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    Office of the Mayor
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