MDP Announces Appointment of Karen Darkes as Executive Director and Joe Francaviglia as Deputy Executive Director

Mar 20, 2024

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Democratic Party Chair Ken Ulman today announced the appointments of Karen Darkes and Joe Francaviglia as Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland Democratic Party. They will officially start in April.

“We have an extraordinarily consequential election this November and Karen is the right person at the right time to help lead us to victory. “Party Chair Ken Ulman said.

An Atlantic City, NJ native and graduate of Morgan State University, Karen Darkes currently serves as Major Gifts Director at Emerge. Karen started her career in political fundraising on the Brown-Ulman 2014 Maryland gubernatorial campaign. After that race, Karen worked as a national political fundraiser at a well-respected Democratic consulting firm in Washington, DC.  During her time there, Karen raised over 40 million dollars for her clients that included Congressman Elijah Cummings, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congresswoman Lucy McBath, from donors across over 20 states. Karen has also raised over 1 million dollars as a non-profit fundraising consultant.

Joe Francaviglia is an educator and seasoned political operative. Joe serves as the Director of Government Affairs for the Comptroller of Maryland. Prior to, Joe was the Campaign Manager for the successful Brooke Lierman for Maryland campaign, helping elect the first woman to win an independently elected statewide constitutional office.

“Joe brings the experience of running and winning statewide campaigns to the State Party in a year that we need it the most,” Dr. Charlene Dukes, Party Vice Chair said.

Additionally, Joe served as Executive Director of Strong Schools Maryland, leading the campaign to pass the most significant investment in Maryland public schools in generations. A resident of Baltimore City, Joe got his start as a Baltimore City Public School teacher.

“It’s an incredible day for Maryland Democrats — Karen Darkes and Joe Francaviglia are inspired choices to lead our Party. Both have deep Maryland experience with a consistent north star to their work — electing Democrats who translate the needs of Marylanders into real policy with tangible results at the local, state, and federal level. I congratulate them on their appointments, and I congratulate Chair Ken Ulman and Vice Chair Charlene Dukes on their excellent selection,” Governor Wes Moore said. “The work we will do together will continue to grow our Party and result in historic wins on behalf of all Marylanders.”