Governor Wolf Announces Staffing Changes
June 24, 2021
Governor Tom Wolf announced that Mike Brunelle will step down as Chief of Staff, a position he has served in since 2017, to take a job with the private sector. Elena Cross, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor, will assume the role of Chief of Staff on June 26, 2021.
“Mike Brunelle has led my administration through unprecedented times including the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf. “Mike negotiated major pieces of legislation including Act 77, which greatly expanded access to voting for Pennsylvanians. He worked across the aisle to negotiate budgets in the most difficult situations, facing multi-billion-dollar budget deficits. I am proud of Mike’s work and his contribution to my administration, and I look forward to seeing the work he will do throughout his career.”
Before joining the Wolf Administration, Mike Brunelle spent two years as the National Campaigns Director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where he led the organization’s programs in 26 states.
Prior to working for SEIU in Washington, D.C., he spent nearly three years as the Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union Pennsylvania State Council, where he directed the planning and execution of Council issue and legislative programs and served as staff-level leadership.
Before coming to Pennsylvania, Mike worked on various candidate and issue-based campaigns in the Northeast, including the elections of Governor John H Lynch. He served as the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, was a state representative in the New Hampshire General Court, and also served as the Democratic Whip.
Elena Cross most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor.
Before joining the Wolf Administration, Elena Cross served on Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s Transition Committee. Working with the Wolf campaign and other campaigns and stakeholders across the commonwealth, Cross was the Executive Director of Campaign for a Fresh Start in 2014.
Previously, Cross was the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Before that, she held other roles at the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Cross began her political career working on campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Cross is from State College and attended Penn State University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
She lives in Cumberland County with her husband Julius.
Today, the governor also announced that Jen Swails will step down as Budget Secretary to take a job with the private sector. Gregory Thall, Special Advisor to the Budget Secretary, will assume the role of Budget Secretary on July 31, 2021.
Jen Swails joined Governor Wolf’s cabinet in January 2019 having over nearly 20 years of fiscal and policy experience at the commonwealth. Jen previously served the commonwealth in the Governor’s Office of the Budget, the Department of Human Services and the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee.
Having started her commonwealth service as a budget analyst at the Loysville Youth Development Center and working her way up through the Department of Human Services, serving in multiple capacities before becoming Financial Management Director of the Agency.
Gregory Thall has spent more than a dozen years in various capacities working on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, most recently as Special Advisor to the Budget Secretary, where he has served since December 2016.
Prior to his work in the Office of the Budget, he served as Deputy General Counsel in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel and was Senior Transition Advisor to the Wolf Transition Team. He also held the position of Deputy Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus, under the Chairmanship of Senator Vincent Hughes.
Earlier in his career, Thall was the Assistant Director of Government Relations for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Thall earned his Juris Doctor from the Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, PA, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He graduated from Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia.
He is also a PSIA level III ski instructor and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and their dogs.