Last week Governor-elect Katie Hobbs named Allie Bones as her incoming Chief of Staff. Ms. Bones is a long-time public servant and has been the current assistant secretary of state under Secretary of State Hobbs since the latter took office in 2019.

Hobbs also named the co-leads and members of her formal transition team. Monica Villalobos, president and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Mike Haener, former deputy chief of staff to Governor Janet Napolitano to be the co-leads of her 30-member formal transition team.

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Members of the formal transition team are below: (Note: transition team members have many professional responsibilities; I include an abbreviated description here):

  • Mike Haener Co-lead (Willetta Partners, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs – Gov. Napolitano)
  • Monica Villalobos Co-lead (President & CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce)
  • David Adame (President & CEO Chicanos por la Causa)
  • Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren (Member of the Arizona House of Representatives)
  • Ron Butler (Managing Partner of the Phoenix office of Ernst & Young)
  • Chris Camacho (President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council)
  • Chad Campbell (SVP at Strategies 360 Consulting, former House Minority Leader AZ State Legislature)
  • Coral Evans (former Flagstaff Mayor & Council Member)
  • Marlene Galan-Woods (former journalist, actor, producer)
  • Steve Gallardo (Maricopa County Board of Supervisors)
  • Marisol Garcia (President, Arizona Education Association)
  • John Giles (Mayor, City of Mesa)
  • John Graham (Chairman and CEO of Sunbelt Holdings)
  • Sharon Harper (President, CEO and co-founder of Plaza Companies)
  • Martin Harvier (President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community)
  • Berdetta Hodge (Tempe Union High School District Governing Board/ Tempe Town Council)
  • Andy Kunasek (Maricopa County Supervisor)
  • Jen Longdon (Arizona House of Representatives)
  • Garrick McFadden (Founder, Owner Gamesq, PLC)
  • Jim McLaughlin (President at UFCW Local 99)
  • Peggy Neely (former Phoenix Vice Mayor, Managing Partner at Neely Public Strategies)
  • Jackie Norton (President and CEO of the Rodel Foundation)
  • Tonya Norwood-Pearson (Arizona Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director)
  • Danny Ortega (Owner of the Ortega Law Firm, P.C.)
  • Lynne Pancrazi (former Representative and Senator, Arizona State Legislature)
  • Stephanie Parra (Governing Board, Phoenix Union HSD)
  • Frank Piccoli (AFSCME AZ Local 2960 President and People Committee Chair)
  • Regina Romero (Mayor, City of Tucson)
  • Fabian Sandez (Special Representative, United Brotherhood of Carpenters/Joiners of America)
  • Alfred Urbina (Attorney General, Pascua Yaqui Tribe)
  • Mary Rose Wilcox (former Supervisor, Maricopa County; Valleywise Health Governing Board)
  • Bob Worsley (former Senator, Arizona State Legislature)

The 30 members of the transition team are broken into various working groups, as is customary for transition teams. The most relevant teams to our public health mission will be the Health and Human Services team (AHCCCS, ADES, ADHS, ADoH, and DCS).

One consideration when selecting a person for a transition team is usually related to the diversity of their connections and relationships to state government, local sectors, nonprofits, and other stakeholders. A diverse transition team with robust contacts allows them to talk with a host of folks who are not on the transition team to get input and ideas.

What Does a Transition Team Do?

Transition teams generally have operational goals: 1) Interviewing current administration officials; 2) Making personnel recommendations; and 3) Reviewing agency briefing materials & making recommendations about state government policies & operations.

One of the first things the transition team groups do is ask for the agency’s briefing materials. As they review the quality and content of the briefing documents, they ask themselves: Is this high-quality and professionally prepared? Are the materials objective or self-serving? Do they appear to be prepared at the last minute? How useful is the information?

The transition team groups usually schedule meetings or calls with a host of stakeholders who they trust as well as existing agency directors and their assistants. Transition team members also often talk to key stakeholder groups that work or are affected by agency decisions and operations.

Making Personnel & Policy Recommendations

Over the next month or so, the transition team will be making recommendations to Governor Elect Hobbs and Chief of Staff Bones about who they have found that would be good fits for leadership positions at the state agencies.

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As the transition continues, agency staff – especially the 38 agency directors – will be paying close attention to the verbal and nonverbal cues they get from the emerging governor’s team. Agency directors can’t be fired by the incoming administration before the inauguration but can sometimes pick up subtle clues about whether they’re likely to be retained or not.

How Can State Agency Staff Prepare for their Meetings with the Gubernatorial Transition Team?

As the governor’s office personnel fall into place the transition team usually takes on less importance as the incoming governor will generally begin to also listen to and act on the recommendations of his or her new staff.

The transition team’s work is fast and furious in November and December but usually wraps up before the inauguration. Members of the budget/finance transition team may continue to work until the new governor sends her proposed budget to the legislature in mid-January.

In my experience, transitions don’t end at the inauguration. They go on for about 6 months. As the governor and her staff on the 8th and 9th floor learn more about the persons at the state agencies, they begin to solidify their opinions about where they want to make more policy or personnel changes.

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