- In his role as Senior VP and Chief Public Affairs Officer at Everytown for Gun Safety, the Sri Lankan American will be responsible for executing a national gun safety strategy.
Mahen Gunaratna, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s communications director is joining Everytown for Gun Safety as chief public affairs officer and senior vice president, beginning June 1. In his role at Everytown, the group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gunaratna will be responsible for executing a national gun safety strategy “He will implement the organization’s strategic approach to marketing and branded campaigns through a combination of traditional communications, digital media, and grassroots marketing,” the gun control advocacy group said in a press release.
The Sri Lankan American will also serve on the board of a PAC and nonprofit helmed by First Lady Tammy Murphy, and on the board of the Strong Fairer Forward PAC. Politico says “Everytown for Gun Safety has been an ally of the Murphy administration in pushing gun control policies.”
Gunaratna said he’s ”honored and humbled” to lead public affairs for Everytown, “the nation’s largest and most effective gun violence prevention organization.” Noting that the gun lobby “blocked even the most basic safety measures for too long,” he said due to “the work of over eight million supporters nationwide, the gun safety movement has made unprecedented progress.”
According to Everytown president John Feinblatt, Gunaratna has “deep experience at every level of government,” and is the right person to help Everytown spread the word about our work to pass lifesaving laws, create a culture of gun safety, and hold the gun industry accountable, both in the court of public opinion and the court of law.”
Gunaratna joined Murphy’s senior staff after the 2017 campaign and has been the governor’s communications director since he took office on Jan. 16, 2018. He previously worked for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, several members of Congress and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential race.
“From closing background check loopholes to strengthening anti-gun trafficking laws to fighting the proliferation of ghost guns, Everytown has been a tremendous partner in our mission of promoting commonsense gun safety,” said Murphy. “I know Mahen will bring the same energy and sense of purpose that he brought to our team as he takes on this new challenge to reduce gun violence nationwide.”
He played a “major role” at the start of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020, “in putting Murphy directly in front of the state and the nation through regular televised press conferences and interviews on top national and state television and radio stations,” as reported by New Jersey Globe.
He was “a key player in Murphy’s Poolhouse Strategy, a plan that involved spending less than $20,000 to install a mini-TV studio at Murphy’s Monmouth County home that enabled the governor to secure network and cable television stations that offered him the exposure that he could not get through a rapidly-diminishing traditional New Jersey press corps,” the Globe said.