Changes in responsibilities at the Episcopal Church's government relations office in Washington, D.C., have been announced, and the search for a director for advocacy has been temporarily suspended, according to an August 11 press release from the Office of Public Affairs.
Alex Baumgarten, international policy analyst in the Office of Government Relations (OGR), will serve as its interim director beginning September 1. Maureen Shea will retire from her position as OGR director on August 28.
Meanwhile, Mary Getz, OGR's grassroots coordinator, will oversee the administrative work of the Washington office.
"With the effects of the 2010-2012 budget just beginning to be felt, and with organizational changes that these cuts will require being studied, we believe it is best to temporarily halt the process," said Linda Watt, chief operating officer for the Episcopal Church. "Please note that this is a temporary suspension of the search process. The Director of Advocacy position has not been eliminated and the search will resume following a decision on the parameters of the position."
Alex and Mary are both terrific people, and the church is lucky to have them. I am not overly concerned about the suspension of the search. Maintaining a strong Officie of Government Relations is one of the Presiding Bishop's priorities, and it fared much better in the recent budget cutting than most other departments. That said, Maureen Shea was one of the most respected faith-based lobbyists on the Hill, and I hope the "parameters" of the new job make it attractive to top-notch candidates.