The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development announced several new hires in remaining leadership roles as it builds upon its successes and implements new initiatives that will shape the department’s focus in the coming years.
Under Secretary Jake Day’s leadership, the department’s priorities are to shelter every Marylander, expand affordable housing, right the wrongs of the past, build places using the best design standards that foster civic pride, and connect all Marylanders to broadband.
“The new team members bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in economic development, public service and housing, and multiply the capacity the department has to reach its goals and further its mission,” said Secretary Jake Day. “The latest round of hires fills key senior leadership roles and strengthens the department’s efforts.”
Rosa Cruz, Chief of Staff
Rosa Cruz, a Certified Economic Developer, is the department’s Chief of Staff. She previously served as Vice President of Communications for the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) in Annapolis. She provided guidance and oversight on program initiatives and communication strategies that helped AAEDC attract and retain businesses in Anne Arundel County.
Prior to her time at AAEDC, Cruz served in communications positions for various Maryland state agencies, including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Press Office.
Her professional experience also includes serving in television news production for several media outlets on the East Coast including ESPN, Fox News’ DC bureau, and local news stations in Baltimore, Maryland, and Richmond, Virginia.
Cruz is the co-chair of the Professional Development Committee of the Maryland Economic Development Corporation as well as a board member. She also serves as the President of the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Maryland.
She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from American University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from George Mason University.
Chuck Cook, Chief Legislative Officer
Chuck Cook, the department’s Chief Legislative Officer, comes from the Business Network for Offshore Wind, where he served as Vice President of Policy and Labor Outreach. In that role, he focused on aligning federal and state policy, with regard to workforce development, to support the offshore wind domestic supply chain.
Prior to that, he served for seven years as the Political and Legislative Director of the Maryland State and D.C. American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), advancing the legislative goals for the Federation and its affiliates in the Maryland General Assembly. Cook earned his degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Salisbury University, and he lives in Crofton, Maryland, with his wife, Jessica, and their three children.
Allison Foster, Director of Communications
Allison Foster is the Director of Communications for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Previously, Foster served as Media Specialist and Acting Communications Director for the City of Salisbury, managing the City’s communications and marketing initiatives. During her time with the City of Salisbury, she directed and executed campaigns around the Salisbury Zoo’s first-ever rebranding, the City’s single-use plastic bag ban, Salisbury’s first transitional housing community, and countless additional community events, policies, and programs.
Foster graduated in 2020 from The New School with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Design and attended Hofstra University’s Journalism program. While at Hofstra University, Foster served as Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor for The Hofstra Chronicle, overseeing a team of staff writers. While at The New School, Allison served as a staff writer for The New School Free Press, covering the arts and student affairs.
Theo Williams, Special Assistant
Theo Williams started as a Special Assistant in the Department’s Office of the Secretary after working for three years with the Maryland Department of Health’s Contact Tracing Unit. During his time at the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), Williams helped to develop and implement the state’s contact tracing response to COVID-19, which responded to over 1.6 million cases and 800,000 contacts through phone calls, text messages, and web survey outreach.
Williams also assisted with MDH’s responses to Mpox, Ebola, and Avian Influenza. Prior to his time at MDH, Williams worked at PATH, an international health nonprofit, and the City of Salisbury. While working for the City of Salisbury, Williams developed and implemented the City government’s first permanent supportive housing program for the chronically homeless, using the Housing First model. Williams completed his undergraduate education at Salisbury University and holds a Master of Science in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.