Gov. Jack Markell chief of staff announces departure



Michael Barlow, chief of staff to Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, has announced he will leave the governor’s office next week.

Barlow is returning to private law practice at Abrams & Bayliss LLP in Wilmington, focusing on high stakes litigation and transactional advice, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office. The Governor’s deputy chief of staff, Drewry Fennell, will be Barlow’s successor.

Markell said Barlow was an “extraordinary” chief of staff, and said he’s grateful for his work over the past several years.

“Delaware is better off today because of Mike’s competence, dedication and passion for serving the people of our state,” he said in a statement. “He is the straightest of straight shooters, which is why he has earned the respect of elected officials, state employees, business and community leaders and all Delawareans with whom he has served.”  Barlow joined the Markell administration as chief legal counsel on the governor’s first day in office in 2009. The following year he became the policy director.

Barlow assumed the position of chief of staff when Markell was re-elected in 2012. Markell’s office said Barlow led efforts on job creation and competitiveness, infrastructure investment and government efficiency.

In a statement Barlow, who previously worked as an attorney for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Wilmington, said he’s grateful for the opportunities the governor has afforded him.

“With the Governor’s leadership, Delaware has the fastest growing economy in the region, an expanding entrepreneurial culture, and a quality of life that is second to none,” he said. “It was a privilege to work alongside him and make a difference for my state. I am excited to return to my first love–practicing law–and thrilled to be joining some of Delaware’s best litigators at Abrams & Bayliss.”

Prior to serving as deputy chief of staff and policy director, Barlow’s successor, Fennell, was a criminal justice advisor on her arrival to the governor’s office in 2014. The former attorney previously was the executive director of the Criminal Justice Council and the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The governor’s office said Fennell helped lead the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, reform Delaware’s criminal justice system, improve public safety through the Wilmington Public Safety Strategies Commission, expand access to voting and protect civil rights of all Delawareans. 

“She has an outstanding working relationship with legislators, the cabinet and advocates, and stakeholders across our state,” Markell stated. “She has worked to make Delaware a better place in both the nonprofit and public sectors, and I am very excited that she will be taking on the role of Chief of Staff.”

Fennell said she’s excited to take on her new role in the governor’s office.

“We have done some great work together and I’m excited to continue to build on the legacy his administration is developing by staying focused on the Governor’s key priorities–supporting job creation, improving Delaware schools and ensuring that state government provides effective and efficient services,” she said in a statement.


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