Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti has named a former community organizer as the first hire of his new administration, designating longtime council aide Ana Guerrero as his chief of staff.
Guerrero, 42, has been working for Garcetti since 2001, serving first as his organizing director and the last five years as his chief of staff. She is the daughter of migrant farmworkers and has been a single mother who for nearly a year was receiving public assistance, including food stamps.
A resident of La Crescenta, Guerrero began her career in Northern California with the Sonoma County Organizing Project, organizing low- and middle-income families to advocate for themselves on such issues as affordable housing. A first-generation Mexican American, she came to Los Angeles in 1995 to become the lead organizer of the United Neighborhoods Organization, leading a campaign to help immigrants become naturalized citizens.
Guerrero will "almost always be in defense of the little guy," said Matt Szabo, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Szabo, who worked closely with Guerrero on the budget, also described her as no-nonsense and "fiercely loyal" to Garcetti.
"I can’t overstate the loyalty factor," Szabo said. "She’s tenacious, and she knows how to motivate people. The people that work for Eric are highly motivated to work for him. That spilled over into the campaign."
Garcetti described Guerrero as a key player in his office as he worked to cut the budget during a financial crisis and improve neighborhoods in his district, which stretches from Echo Park to Hollywood. "There is no one more expert and experienced in making government work better for the people of L.A. than Ana Guerrero," he said in a prepared statement.
Guerrero said in a statement that she is "honored and humbled" to receive the job and focus on Garcetti's "back-to-basics agenda." "I'm going to make sure he has the tools he needs to get the job done," she said.
Garcetti has been relying heavily on Guerrero and other trusted current and former aides to guide his transition. Within the core group of volunteers helping him screen potential hires and find political appointees, only two have not worked for Garcetti. All have known him more than a decade.
Directing the transition is Rich Llewellyn, who served as Garcetti's chief of staff from 2001 to 2005. Also involved are Beatrice Hsu and Sarah Dusseault, both of whom have handled policy issues for Garcetti. Guerrero is also part of that core group.
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