Incoming Chief of Staff Ann O'Leary, left, with Jennifer Siebel-Newsom and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom
Incoming Chief of Staff Ann O'Leary, left, with Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom announced his first two hires today, picking one leader who will give his inner circle deep experience in the state Capitol and another who will give it a strong national scope.

Ann O’Leary, a senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential run, will serve as Newsom’s chief of staff, a position that makes her both the manager of his office and the closest liaison for anyone trying to communicate with the governor.  Ana Matosantos, who has been a director of the state Department of Finance under the last two governors, will be Newsom’s cabinet secretary, in charge of overseeing California’s vast bureaucracy of state agencies.

O’Leary, an attorney with a Silicon Valley law firm, has a background in child care policy, an issue Newsom highlighted during his campaign. Previously she was a legislative director for Sen. Hillary Clinton and an aide in Bill Clinton’s White House.

“One of the things Ann brings is a national perspective—how California fits within the national scope,” said Amanda Renteria, who worked with O’Leary on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

That will be an asset as Newsom looks to push policies on health care and preschool that could make California a national leader.

“If you want big bold ideas, it does involve people knowing what’s happening on the national level,” Renteria said. “That’s squarely what Ann can do.”

Matosantos was the youngest person and first Latina to lead the California Department of Finance when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to that role, which she also held for part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. She previously worked for the Legislature and the California Health and Human Services Agency.

“Ana is one of the smartest policy minds in the state,” said Dana Williamson, a former aide to Brown. “She has a very deep understanding of all the policy decisions that face the governor.”

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Laurel covers California politics for CalMatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the state Capitol. She's been included in the Washington Post’s list of outstanding state politics reporters...