Denver Mayor Johnston’s administration announces legislative affairs director, more hires

A month after his inauguration, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston continues adding to his senior staff.

The administration announced three new hires Thursday who will oversee the mayor’s work with the City Council, with the state and federal government and with community partners.

Here are the three new members of Johnston’s leadership team and what each will be focused on at city hall:

Angela Casias, legislative director

Casias most recently worked as the senior vice president of community and government partnerships for Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver but she has 18 years of experience working for the city prior to that. Recent posts include serving as the manager of local government affairs at Denver International Airport and focusing on legislation for the city’s public works department.

Under Johnston, she will take the lead on managing all legislative efforts including working with the City Council and the heads of city agencies to ensure the mayor’s key initiatives are implemented, according to Thursday’s announcement.

Adam Burg, federal and state affairs director

Burg comes to the city from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce where he was the vice president of government affairs. In that role, he was in charge of the chamber’s policy team including overseeing the organization’s contracted lobbyists, according to the new release announcing his hire in December 2021.

Now he will be tasked with maintaining relationships and advocating for Denver’s policy goals and resource needs at the state and federal levels.

It’s familiar territory for Burg who did legislative affairs work for Denver’s neighbor Adams County before joining the chamber.

Esther Lee Leach, senior advisor for community partnerships

Leach is taking on the broad role of managing the Johnston administration’s relationships with business, arts, nonprofit, cultural and political stakeholders, according to Thursday’s announcement. She will also oversee the city’s boards and commissions under Johnston.

Her most recent job involved leading corporate sponsorships, membership and fundraising efforts for the Downtown Denver Partnership, one of the city’s most prominent economic development groups. She also led that organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility committee.

Leach has a varied background that includes managing membership and events for the Clayton Hotel & Members Club in Cherry Creek and running Cherry Creek Fashion magazine as publisher and editor-in-chief.

The trio joins an administrative team helmed by Chief of Staff Jenn Ridder.

Dominick Moreno, the Colorado Senate majority leader as of the end of the 2023 session, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the legislature to serve as Johnston’s deputy chief of staff for strategy.

The city’s website is still advertising for high-ranking mayoral appointee positions including chief financial officer, public safety director and parks and recreation director. Johnston has asked people in key city positions under his predecessor Mayor Michael Hancock to stay in their roles through at least Aug. 31.

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