Gov.-elect Wes Moore on Tuesday appointed Sen. Susan Lee as Maryland’s next secretary of state and the first Asian American to hold the position, according to a statement from the incoming Moore administration.

“Senator Susan Lee has been a force in Maryland for decades and I’m honored to have her join my Administration as Maryland’s next Secretary of State,” Governor-elect Wes Moore said in a statement. “I know with Sen. Lee alongside me, we will swiftly create an economically thriving Maryland that leaves no one behind.”

In her new role, Lee said her office plans to focus on fulfilling Moore’s vision of making Maryland’s economy thrive.

“Particularly in the international sphere,” she said. To do this Lee said she’ll leverage and improve the Maryland Sister States Program, the 17-foster city program stewarded by the secretary of state’s office that promotes international business and industry trade.

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“We’ve got to really focus on making them stronger and maybe even think about increasing relationships with other countries,” Lee said.

Lee said she will “explore new opportunities in the areas of life sciences, bioscience, IT, cyber, especially emerging technologies that could lead to things like breakthrough medical treatments and quality of life innovations. ... to generate dollars and revenues for Maryland.”

Moore’s campaign also said in the statement that Lee “has a decades-long record of public service and will head into the Administration with a wealth of experience at her disposal.”

Lee, a Democrat, has represented Montgomery County for over two decades in the Maryland General Assembly, both as a delegate and a Senator. Lee, who is also an attorney, has been a member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where she has been a key advocate of bills to prevent gun violence. She has held multiple leadership positions throughout her tenure, including president of the Maryland General Assembly’s Women’s Caucus and chair emeritus of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus.

The secretary of state is a low-profile but legally important position in Maryland, with duties ranging from attesting to the governor’s signature on official documents to publishing details of proposed state constitutional amendments.

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For the last eight years, the secretary of state has been John C. Wobensmith, appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

“On day one, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running to create an economically thriving state that leaves no one behind — one that puts our working families first and sends a clear message to businesses that we are ready to get to work,” Lee said.

Lee is just the third cabinet appointment Moore has made out of more than 20 positions that the incoming governor will need to fill. Moore previously named Helene Grady as budget secretary and Tisha Edwards as appointments secretary. He has yet to announce his picks for cabinet secretaries in key areas, such as health, transportation, labor and environment.

Moore will be sworn into office on Jan. 18.

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

Brenda Wintrode covers state government, agencies and politics. Before joining The Baltimore Banner, Wintrode wrote an award winning series of long form investigations for Wisconsin Watch. 

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