New­som turns to top Clin­ton ad­viser to launch ad­min­is­tra­tion

The Sacramento Bee - - Capitol & California - BY ALEXEI KOSEFF akos­eff@sacbee.com

The Gavin New­som ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan to take shape Fri­day as Cal­i­for­nia’s Demo­cratic gov­er­nor-elect an­nounced his first two se­nior staff ap­point­ments and launched a web­site to so­licit job ap­pli­ca­tions and ad­vice.

Ann O’Leary, a for­mer top ad­viser to Hil­lary Clin­ton with an em­pha­sis in chil­dren and fam­ily pol­icy, will serve as chief of staff. The choice po­ten­tially sig­nals that New­som will pri­or­i­tize the ex­pan­sion of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, a pro­posal he em­pha­sized in the fi­nal days of his cam­paign above other key is­sues like hous­ing and health care.

Capi­tol vet­eran Ana Matosan­tos, who worked as direc­tor of fi­nance for Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, will be the cabi­net sec­re­tary, co­or­di­nat­ing be­tween New­som’s of­fice and the dozens of agen­cies and de­part­ments that make up the state gov­ern­ment.

A new web­site called “All In Cal­i­for­nia” will pro­vide an on­line hub for the gu­ber­na­to­rial tran­si­tion — led by O’Leary, with help from Sacra­mento po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Ja­son Kin­ney and oth­ers — as New­som pre­pares to take of­fice on Jan. 7. The pub­lic can use the site to ap­ply for jobs in the New­som ad­min­is­tra­tion and rec­om­mend pol­icy so­lu­tions to the new gov­er­nor.

“It’s time for Cal­i­for­nia’s State Capi­tol to en­gage more of Cal­i­for­nia’s di­verse voices and tal­ents, be­gin­ning with this tran­si­tion,” New­som said in a state­ment. “This isn’t go­ing to be the usual top­down, closed-door, paint-by-num­bers process. Our state gov­ern­ment im­pacts mil­lions of Cal­i­for­nia lives ev­ery day and we are com­mit­ted to of­fer­ing unique ways to en­able more Cal­i­for­ni­ans to help shape the fu­ture.”

O’Leary’s back­ground is pri­mar­ily in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and na­tional pol­i­tics, work­ing in the White House un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, as leg­isla­tive direc­tor for for­mer Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton and as a se­nior pol­icy ad­viser for Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

For­mer White House chief of staff John Podesta

praised her deep pol­icy knowl­edge and her “ex­pe­ri­ence in de­sign­ing and im­ple­ment­ing so­cial pol­icy at the gov­ern­ment level.” O’Leary was key in de­vel­op­ing the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, he said, and later worked on K-12 ini­tia­tives, like No Child Left Be­hind, as well as ex­pand­ing paid fam­ily and med­i­cal leave.

“What mo­ti­vates her into pol­icy and pol­i­tics,” Podesta said, “is con­cern for kids and par­tic­u­larly poor kids, and that they get the op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed in life.”

O’Leary also has deep roots in Cal­i­for­nia, where she earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and a law de­gree from UC Berke­ley, ac­cord­ing to a For­tune mag­a­zine pro­file. She lives in the Berke­ley hills and used to be mar­ried to Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court Jus­tice Good­win Liu.

Work­ing for a Palo Alto law firm the past two years, O’Leary has al­ready of­fered ad­vice to Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers like Sen. Han­nah-Beth Jack­son. The Santa Bar­bara Demo­crat said she turned to O’Leary last year for help on how to pass a bill ex­pand­ing new par­ent leave, de­spite op­po­si­tion from the busi­ness com­mu­nity. Jack­son de­scribed her as a “shrewd and ef­fec­tive strate­gist.”

For­mer Michi­gan Gov. Jen­nifer Gran­holm, who worked with O’Leary on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion team, said O’Leary’s “in­com­pa­ra­ble” breadth of ex­pe­ri­ence would ben­e­fit New­som’s pro­gres­sive vi­sion for Cal­i­for­nia. She is adept at nav­i­gat­ing the in­ter­per­sonal pol­i­tics of the leg­isla­tive process, Gran­holm said, and “ca­pa­ble of han­dling 50 things at once” as an ad­min­is­tra­tor.

“She’s trilin­gual: She can speak fed­eral, she can speak state and she can speak lo­cal,” Gran­holm said. “The two of them to­gether will con­tinue to ac­cel­er­ate Cal­i­for­nia’s po­si­tion as a pol­icy leader.”

Ann O’Leary

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