Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ chief of staff, Grant Neely, is resigning, making him the first high-level staffer to exit City Hall as the Jones’ administration enters its final months.
Neely said in an email Monday that he’s stepping down to take a position at Dominion, leading a new communications team.
“I’m excited to join a public service company with a deep commitment to the community here in Richmond and across the 14 states where Dominion serves customers,” Neely said.
Jones’ term concludes at the end of the year. As the mayor’s chief of staff, Neely guided policy decisions at City Hall and focused on implementing major projects and initiatives.
Neely’s last day with the city is Aug. 12, said city spokesman Michael Wallace. Neely will begin his job at Dominion “later this month,” according to his email.
Jones’ policy adviser, Mark Kronenthal, will fill the role until a replacement is named, Wallace said.
Neely joined the Jones administration in 2014, replacing former chief of staff Suzette Denslow, who now serves as deputy chief of staff to Gov. Terry McAuliffe. A speechwriter, he was initially brought on to help with the rollout of Jones’ stadium and development proposal for Shockoe Bottom.
Neely is a former adviser to then-Gov. Mark R. Warner, now a U.S. Senator, and has worked as a strategy and communications adviser to executives at pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Novartis.
Neely could not be reached by phone Monday. His email announcement cited a number of accomplishments under Jones, including hosting the UCI Road World Championships, the economic development deal that brought Stone Brewing Co. to Richmond and the creation of a city department to combat poverty.
“If you’ve lived in Virginia’s capital city for a while, you know these are great days,” Neely said. “People are moving in, not out; crime is way down from when I was a kid; and downtown buzzes with energy it’s never seen before. We’re finally facing our history honestly, and shaping a real optimism about our future. If anyone tells you this place is broken, they’re simply living in the past. It’s an old Richmond game.”