Mary Ellen Russell

Executive Director

Mary Ellen Russell was appointed Executive Director of the Maryland Catholic Conference in November 2008. Mrs. Russell has also served as an associate director and deputy director of the Conference since joining the staff in 1995, focusing primarily on coordinating legislative advocacy efforts affecting Maryland’s Catholic and other nonpublic schools.

Mrs. Russell is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors, and serves on the board of Archbishop Spalding High School and Project Bridges.  She is a past member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, the board of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, and past co-chair of the Maryland State Superintendent’s Nonpublic Schools Workgroup. Mrs. Russell also worked for several years as Assistant Secretary for Parental Advocacy at the USCCB.

Mrs. Russell holds an M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis, and a B.A. in English from Boston College. She and her husband live in Annapolis, where they have raised four sons. Her husband is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and serves at the Catholic Community of South Baltimore.

Mike Gathagan

Director of Communications

Mike Gathagan joined the Maryland Catholic Conference as the Director of Communications in February 2015 after 14 years as the Vice President of Communications for the Maryland Jockey Club.

Gathagan graduated from Towson University in 1987 with Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication. He has worked in public relations and media for nearly 30 years, including stints with WMAR-TV, the Baltimore Stallions and the Washington Wizards.

A board member of the Brigance Brigade Foundation, Gathagan, his wife and two teenage daughters are active parishioners at the Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier in Hunt Valley.

Dana Davenport

Associate Director, Social and Economic Justice

Dana Davenport joined the Maryland Catholic Conference as the Associate Director for Social Concerns in October 2014. Her advocacy efforts focus primarily on poverty, immigration, and health care, but also extend to employment and environmental issues.

Ms. Davenport graduated cum laude from Hood College with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BSW). Prior to joining the Conference, Ms. Davenport graduated from University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) with advanced standing. Her background includes management, research, and policy with a focus on children, youth, and families.

Garrett J. O'Day, Esq.

Associate Director, Education, Children and Families

Garrett O’Day joined the Maryland Catholic Conference as Associate Director for Education in 2013.  His Department advocates for policies that promote the success and wellbeing of Maryland’s families and children, including the approximately 50,000 students attending the state’s Catholic schools.      

Mr. O’Day graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York (B.A. Political Science). Thereafter, Mr. O’Day earned a law degree from California Western School of Law. Prior to joining the Maryland Catholic Conference, Mr. O’Day practiced law in New York. He is admitted to practice law in Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia.

Anya Naegele

Associate Director, Respect For Life

 Anya Naegele joined the Maryland Catholic Conference in August 2015, as the Associate Director for Respect For Life. In this role, she advocates for policies that promote the inherent value of human life at all stages.

A life-long Marylander, Naegele grew up in Harford County and attended St. Mary's College of Maryland in St. Mary's City. There she earned her B.A. in Interdiscipilinary Studies with a focus in political communications. Prior to coming on board with the Maryland Catholic Conference, Naegele spent eight years working for a highly-reputed strategy firm, specializing in project management initiatives.

Mariann Hughes

Associate Director, Advocacy and Outreach

Mariann Hughes has worked as the Associate Director for Advocacy and Outreach at the Maryland Catholic Conference since September 2011. She graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Journalism from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Her background includes television and print news, publishing and communications.

Prior to the Conference, Ms. Hughes worked as a designer at a Virginia newspaper, and then as a communications associate at the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. She grew up in Michigan before attending Franciscan University.