Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Executive Staff Appointments

February 3, 2023

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After being elected during the last November General Election, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass had a swift transition to her post upon being sworn into office in December 2022. She announced a number of key leadership appointments to help lead and push her priorities forward for the city. A complete list of her senior staff appointments, thus far, is provided below, including those that were announced earlier this week.

In terms of city department leadership, Bass has so far indicated her support to reappoint LAPD Chief Michel Moore. The Los Angeles Police Commission just approved his appointment this week. Consistent with discussions between Bass and Moore, he will not serve a full five-year term. Moore will step down, at the appropriate time, prior to global events such as the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Olympics, when a nationwide search to select a new chief will begin.

Mayor Karen Bass’ Senior Staff Appointments

Chris Thompson, Chief of Staff – Chris Thompson was Bass’ first major hire and joined her administration as chief of staff. Thompson previously led government relations for the LA 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games Committee. He is former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and served in various roles at Edison International and Southern California Edison.

Mercedes Marquez, Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions – Bass’ first act in office was to declare a state of emergency on homelessness. Thus, she brought on Mercedes Marquez as another early hire to serve as chief of housing and homelessness solutions. Marquez previously owned her own consulting firm, which she formed after serving as the general manager for the City of Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department. She was also deputy mayor in former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s administration and served in former President Barack Obama’s administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Jenny Punsalan Delwood, Deputy Chief of Staff – After helping to lead the transition, Jenny Delwood is helping Bass staff her office and ensure senior leadership is working in a coordinated way to execute the mayor’s vision for the city. She will also oversee the mayor’s constituent services, public engagement, legislative and intergovernmental strategy, international affairs, budget and innovation team, operations, and scheduling.

Veronica Gutierrez, Interim Deputy Chief of Staff – Veronica Gutierrez is working to assess staffing, scope of work, and policy development in the mayor’s office and will oversee public safety, economic development, economic opportunity, and sustainability, which includes staff working with the police, fire, and building and safety departments, as well as community redevelopment, city planning, public works, and airports. Gutierrez is serving in an interim capacity to help set up the office for the first few months, and then plans to return to retirement.

David Michaelson, Counsel to the Mayor – After spending the last 17 years working for the people of Los Angeles as chief assistant city attorney, David Michaelson started serving as counsel for Bass starting January 1, 2023. As chief assistant city attorney, Michaelson led the Municipal Law Branch, serving all city elected officials and 40 city departments, providing advice as well as transactional and litigation services related to governance, election, ethics, police and fire, environmental, land use, real property, labor, public finance, procurement, wage enforcement, intellectual property, transportation, housing, development, cannabis, airport, and pension matters.

Zach Seidl, Communications Director and Senior Advisor, Acting Deputy Mayor of Communications – Zach Seidl will serve as Bass’ director of communications and senior advisor and function as a chief spokesperson. He is currently serving as acting deputy mayor of communications until that position is filled. Seidl has worked for Bass for the past seven years, most recently serving as communications director and senior advisor in her congressional office and also working on her mayoral campaign.

Joey Freeman, Director of Policy and Budget Initiatives – Most recently serving as senior advisor and policy director on the Karen Bass for Mayor campaign, Joey Freeman ensures that the mayor’s priorities are reflected in the city budget and across city government. Previously, Freeman served as the chief deputy legislative affairs secretary for Gov. Gavin Newsom, where he served as senior staff to the governor and helped lead negotiations with the state legislature on key issues like reopening public schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, mandating California’s first all-mail state election and passing significant resources to tackle the homelessness crisis.

Nancy Sutley, Deputy Mayor of Energy and Sustainability – Nancy Sutley will lead the mayor’s environmental, energy and sustainability policy and programs. Sutley is currently the senior assistant general manager of external and regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she oversees all external relations activities for our nation’s largest municipally owned utility.

Randall Winston, Deputy Mayor of Public Works – Randall Winston will lead the mayor’s infrastructure policy and aligning public works with community safety efforts. Winston is an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers whose career spans law, architecture, and government. Previously, Randall was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve as executive director of the California Strategic Growth Council, a state agency integrating efforts to achieve the state’s climate and sustainable community goals.

Karren Lane, Deputy Mayor of Community Empowerment – Karren Lane is California program director for the Leading Power for Change portfolio of the California Wellness Foundation. Lane will join the mayor’s office as deputy mayor of community empowerment. She will oversee community engagement and participatory governance on a variety of topics, including community safety and homelessness solutions. Lane will also play a key role in shaping the mayor’s initiatives focused on equity and opportunity. 

Annetta Wells, Director of Community Engagement – Annetta Wells will join the mayor’s office as director of community engagement where she will lead community engagement efforts related to homelessness solutions, and will work with organized labor and the faith community. Wells will engage with council offices, neighborhood councils, business organizations and neighborhood residents to assist in encampment-to-home strategies in successful and sustainable ways. Wells is currently the Statewide Deputy Political Director for SEIU 2015, the nation’s second largest labor local representing over 400,000 long-term care workers. 

Leigh Hoffman-Kipp, Director of Strategic Initiatives Leigh Hoffman-Kipp has been hired as director of initiatives for the Housing and Homelessness Solutions team and will focus on securing interim housing for Inside Safe. With a background in planning, development and organizational strategy, Hoffman-Kipp served as senior staff to the Hon. Jackie Goldberg at the city and state levels, and recently held leadership roles at Hands4Hope LA and the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. 

Stephanie Venegas, Director of Scheduling – Stephanie Venegas will serve as director of scheduling for Bass. For the past seven years, she has worked for the City of Santa Monica, managing the office of the city council and spearheading the city’s legislative and intergovernmental affairs.

Guillermo Cespedes, Deputy Mayor of Community Safety – Guillermo Cespedes will establish and lead the office of community safety, which will be a key component in the mayor’s strategy to prevent and reduce crime in Los Angeles. Cespedes is a leading global expert in community safety with extensive experience in community-based public health violence reduction models, program design, and municipal government. Cespedes leads the City of Oakland’s newly formed Department of Violence Prevention, where he provided conceptual, technical and administrative leadership in program development, implementation and evaluation strategies.

Jenna Hornstock, Deputy Mayor of Housing – Jenna Hornstock will lead the mayor’s housing portfolio. She is currently deputy director of planning for land use at the Southern California Association of Governments, where she oversees its Housing and Economic Empowerment, Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable and Resilient Development departments. She has spent more than two decades in local government with a focus on public/private real estate transactions, affordable housing policy and delivery, and community and economic development, and her experience includes working for LA Metro and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles.