This is a developing story, and this post has been updated since its original publication.
Kathy Hochul, New York’s former lieutenant governor who was sworn in as the state’s first female governor in August, has pledged to run her administration differently from her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
“No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” the new state leader said in an earlier press conference, after Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and several other scandals. An investigation released by the state attorney general which helped lead to the former governor’s downfall characterized the executive chamber under Cuomo’s leadership as “rife with fear and intimidation.”
Hochul told reporters she’ll be assembling her administration over her first 45 days. “It’s a shorter than normal transition period,” the new governor said during an appearance on CBS This Morning in late August. “But I’m going to attract the best and the brightest. That is my goal, and people who also share my values of working hard for the people of this state, letting them know they can trust the government.”
Hochul’s website notes that the governor is now hiring, and advises potential applicants to send in their resumes and a cover letter.
Here’s who Hochul has appointed to her administration so far:
Director of State Operations Kathryn Garcia: A longtime public servant, Garcia recently ran for New York City mayor, where she lost the June primary by around 8,000 votes to Democratic nominee Eric Adams. Garcia spent six years as commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, and also served as the city’s Lead Czar charged with responding the NYCHA lead crisis, and as Food Czar, where she coordinated emergency meal programs during the pandemic.
Special Advisor on Pandemic Relief Neysa Alsina: A Fordham Law school grad, Alsina previously oversaw legal affairs for the New York City comptroller’s office, was a senior policy advisor to Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez and was counsel at the New York City Bar Association.
Superintendent of the State Department of Financial Services Adrienne Harris: Harris, whose appointment still needs to be confirmed by the State Senate, was a senior advisor for the U.S. Treasury Department and later worked as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under President Barack Obama. She is currently a professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy’s Center on Finance, Law and Policy at the University of Michigan.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin: Benjamin will become the state’s second-in-command after serving five years in the New York State Senate, where he represents Harlem’s 30th District. Hochul called Benjamin “someone who’s been through the trenches” and who has advocated for criminal justice and housing reforms. Benjamin will be sworn in after Labor Day, and a special election to fill his Senate seat will be held Nov. 2.
Secretary to the Governor Karen Persichilli Keogh: Keogh spent seven years as a senior staffer for Hillary Rodham Clinton during her time as New York’s U.S. Senator. A Long Island native who now lives in Brooklyn, she also worked for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand during the lawmaker’s transition from the House of Representatives, and was a senior political advisor on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign.
Counsel to the Governor Elizabeth Fine: An attorney with experience at all three levels of government, Fine is the chief legal officer for the Empire State Development (ESD), New York’s economic development agency. She was previously the attorney for the New York City Council and spent seven years at the U.S. Justice Department.
Chief-of-Staff Jeff Lewis: Lewis has a long history working with Hochul, according to his LinkedIn profile, which shows he first interned for her back in 2009 during her time as Erie County Clerk. He’s also held posts as a fundraising assistant and legislative correspondent when Hochul served in Congress and was director of external affairs at the lieutenant governor’s office before being promoted to chief-of-staff in 2016.
–By Ese Olumhense and Jeanmarie Evelly