Cleveland Mayor-elect Justin Bibb names first round of top City Hall hires

Justin Bibb and Ryan Puente, right, celebrate their victory on primary night Sept. 14.
Justin Bibb and Ryan Puente, right, celebrate their victory on primary night Sept. 14. [Taylor Haggerty / Ideastream Public Media]
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Cleveland Mayor-elect Justin Bibb announced his first slate of City Hall hires on Wednesday as he readies to take office Jan. 3.

In a news release, Bibb’s transition office named appointments to four positions:

  • Mark D. Griffin as chief legal counsel
  • Ryan Puente as chief government affairs officer
  • Sarah Johnson as chief communications officer
  • Paul N. Patton as chief human resources officer

“This is an exciting time for our City and I am very pleased with the team we are building to lead Cleveland,” Bibb said in a news release. “These top-level professionals all have exceptional qualifications, but even more importantly, they share our values of an inclusive, open, modern city hall that puts people first.”

The four appointees will begin their work when Bibb is sworn in the first week of January.

Griffin currently works as Cuyahoga County’s inspector general, where he oversees ethics investigations within the county executive’s administration. As chief legal counsel, Griffin will direct the city's law department, according to the transition team.

Puente ran Bibb’s successful mayoral campaign this year. In his new role, he’ll manage the city’s relationships with other government agencies, with organized labor and with businesses.

Johnson previously led communications for the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Northeast Ohio’s chamber of commerce.

The mayor-elect is reorganizing the communications and governmental affairs roles by splitting them into two separate jobs. Under Mayor Frank Jackson, responsibilities for both spheres are held by Valarie McCall, a top deputy in the current administration.  

Patton comes to the Bibb administration from higher education, where he most recently worked as senior advisor to the president of Ohio State University. Bibb is elevating the human resources position to a cabinet-level job, according to the news release.

Early in his career, Patton worked as chief human resources officer and executive assistant for Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White during the mayor’s first term, according to his LinkedIn page. He has also held HR positions at MetroHealth, the OhioHealth hospital system and Yale New Haven Hospital.

As of Wednesday morning, nine top job openings were still posted on Bibb’s transition website, including finance director, chief operating officer and chief of economic development.

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