ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich appointed two heads of departments, whom the county council approved on Jan. 31.
One position will be filled by a county employee already in the same department; meanwhile, the other appointee came from a similar position in Prince George’s County government.
Elrich was inaugurated Dec. 3, along with the new county council members, and now, he must appoint the people he wants to oversee the various county departments.
Adam Ortiz, the new director of the Department of Environmental Protection, has experience improving environmental sustainability in a jurisdiction.
In his most recent job, he directed the Department of the Environment for Prince George’s County – a job he held from October 2012 until taking the position in Montgomery County, according to a county news release. Prior to that, he managed Prince George’s County Stat office.
Ortiz credited his time serving as mayor of Edmonton for three terms, 2005 to 2011, for providing some of his experience in helping the environment – including experience related to storm-water management.
“In Edmonston, we dealt with a lot of flooding from stormwater, so I led an effort to manage that, and we also built (one of) the first green street(s) in the country,” Ortiz said on Feb. 5.
A green street is a street that treats water, is accessible on foot and by bicycle and uses renewable energy to power street lights, according to Ortiz.
It is a concept the Takoma Park mayor and city council have expressed an interest in studying.
Ortiz also led initiatives that Prince George’s County for composting and recycling.
“I’m really excited to be an example – to make Montgomery a leading example at addressing climate change and take our stormwater and recycling efforts to the next level,” Ortiz said. “I think that working together we can be an example for the rest of the country on how to be economically vibrant and economically sustainable.”
Montgomery County includes the municipalities of Takoma Park, Rockville and Gaithersburg.
Elrich said he is glad to have Ortiz come to work for the county.
“Adam Ortiz (…) has done some really innovative things on the leading edge of environmental sustainability and moving to zero waste, so I feel lucky to bring him here,” Elrich said.
Council President Nancy Navarro said she was “thrilled” to support Elrich’s appointment of Ortiz, describing his environmental work as a “perfect fit” for the county’s agenda.
For the director of Office of Community Partnerships, Elrich appointed Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu.
Nguyen-Vu said she is grateful for the opportunity from the new county executive.
“I am positive that my experience in advocating for underrepresented communities, in addition to being grounded in organizational development, will be an asset for the Elrich administration to create an equitable and inclusive Montgomery County,” she said.
During her employment with the county, Nguyen-Vu created and continues to lead the Montgomery County Legal Immigration Service Providers Network and led the county’s citizenship initiative.
Elrich said he was glad to have her continue working in the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP).
Nguyen-Vu is “crucial to helping county government understand, address and meet the needs of our diverse community while strengthening the county by connecting our dynamic population with necessary resources, so all may thrive here,” Elrich said, after recalling her previous work in the county.
Nguyen-Vu worked as the OCP liaison to the Asian Pacific American community when she first started working for county government in January 2012.
She summarized OCP’s work: “Our role is to be that bridge-builder and to build trust and relationships in the community, so that we can better effectively serve our residents.”
She has also served as chair for the My Brother’s Keeper LGBTQ Affinity Workgroup.
Before her employment by the county, Nguyen-Vu worked as an AmeriCorps fellow and served as executive director of the Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (now known as the Association of Vietnamese Americans).
She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and graduated from Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg.
Navarro said she was excited for the council to continue working with Nguyen-Vu and to begin working with Ortiz.
“On behalf of the immigrant community, I want to congratulate Adam and Dianel it is important to recognize our leaders and bright stars here in Maryland,” Navarro said.
Three department head positions have yet to be filled. Elrich initiated a national search for individuals to fill the remaining three positions: director of Housing and Community Affairs, director of Health and Human Services and director of the library system.
The county executive aims to name the remaining appointees in the next few weeks, according to a news release. Once Elrich appoints people to the remaining positions, the council must approve them.