Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson, who served as Michelle Wu’s mayoral campaign manager, has signed on as interim chief of staff for the nascent administration. The Wu transition team also announced that Attorney General Maura Healey's former chief of staff will also enter City Hall as chief of policy and strategic planning.
Akai-Ferguson, who was born in Japan, raised in Atlanta and graduated from Wellesley College, worked on US Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. The daughter of parents who were involved in a school for ELL/immigrant students in East Atlanta, Akai-Ferguson also went into education, working for two years as a math teacher in Louisiana.
“It’s not about these big lofty ideas,” she told the Wellesley College student newspaper in 2019, a few weeks after she was hired by the Warren 2020 campaign. “It’s really about the people that it’s going to affect — it’s about the voters, just like it was about the students.”
The transition team also announced Mike Firestone, a former top aide to Attorney General Healey and US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will serve as Wu’s chief of policy and strategic planning once she takes office.
Firestone served as Healey’s chief of staff before leaving for Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Before taking the chief of staff job under Healey, Firestone previously worked as an assistant attorney general and director of strategic initiatives for her. He also managed Healey’s 2014 campaign for attorney general.
Firestone, before he was spotted inside City Hall as a member of Wu’s transition team, was working as director of the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, opposing a proposed ballot question on the status and benefits of drivers for app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft.
Like Wu, Firestone graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history before attending its law school. He was a field director for Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign, which Wu also worked on before turning to her at-large council run in 2013.
He is the son of Karen Firestone, the CEO of Aureus Asset Management who often appears on CNBC. His father David is the president of Firestone & Parson, a jewelry and antiques company in Back Bay, according to the New York Times.
His start in politics came courtesy of his grandmother, who was a housing rights activist in Allston-Brighton, he told CommonWealth magazine in 2014, after running Healey’s winning campaign. “She would go door to door and she would take me along,” he said. “I remember leafleting apartment buildings all around Commonwealth Avenue and Cleveland Circle, even when I was little. That’s really where I got my start.”
Wu is due to be sworn in as mayor of Boston at noon inside the City Council chambers on Tuesday.
The post of chief of policy and planning has been previously held by Michael Kineavy under the late mayor Thomas Menino and Joyce Linehan under former mayor Marty Walsh, who now serves as President Biden’s labor secretary.
Other Team Wu members who are joining her in the administration include:
-- Brianna Millor, civic engagement director in Wu’s City Council office, to serve as senior adviser
-- Tali Robbins, policy director in Wu's City Council office, to serve as senior adviser
-- Mariangely Solis Cervera, constituency director on Wu campaign, to serve as senior adviser
-- Dave Vittorini, chief of staff in Wu’s City Council office, to serve as senior adviser
-- Dr. Mariel Novas, Mayor-elect Wu's transition director, "will continue to lead efforts related to the transition through the early days of the Administration"
Material from State House News Service was used in this report. This post was updated at 9:30 a.m. with additional information from the Wu transition team's release. This post was updated on Wednesday to correct an error regarding Akai-Ferguson's background. Her parents were involved with a school for ELL/immigrant students.