List: Gloria announces administration appointments

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SAN DIEGO — Mayor-elect Todd Gloria has announced who will serve on his administration when he is sworn-in as mayor of San Diego.

Gloria said his selections represent an experienced group of civic-minded professionals. His office detailed each appointee’s background in a news release Monday.

Jessica Lawrence will serve as Gloria’s director of policy and lead the mayor-elect’s policy team and efforts. Lawrence has more than 10 years of leadership experience in city government, serving as a senior advisor to two San Diego mayors. As the current director of policy and council affairs for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Lawrence has led the development of the city’s $4 billion budget for four years and driven major policy initiatives. She also serves as liaison to city council and manages the mayor’s policy team, community outreach representatives and the docket office. She previously served as a policy advisor and budget committee consultant for then-Councilmember Gloria. In that capacity, Lawrence led the development of the city’s minimum wage ordinance as well as the coordination of regional homelessness initiatives and resources. Lawrence graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts in public policy and planning. She lives in Pacific Beach.

Jen Lebron has been named communications director and will manage media relations, digital media and the communications team in the mayor’s office. Lebron is a native San Diegan who has held multiple roles at city hall including press secretary, director of digital strategy, LGBTQ+ liaison and the director of public safety and neighborhood services policy. Prior to joining the City of San Diego, Lebron was the web content specialist for the Port of San Diego and a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Arizona Republic and San Diego Daily Transcript. She grew up in Tierrasanta and graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a degree in journalism. Lebron lives in the East Village. 

Michaela Valk has been named director of community engagement and will oversee the Administration’s community outreach efforts. Valk served as a field representative in Gloria’s Assembly Office supervising Council Districts one, two, and three and served as Gloria’s liaison to the Asian-Pacific Islander community as well as women and youth. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Valk was the office’s lead with the Employment Development Department and she successfully assisted thousands of San Diegans in receiving their unemployment benefits. Valk previously worked for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office as well as the County’s Department of Child Support Services. She is a graduate of the University of San Diego and lives in Paradise Hills.

Mathew Gordon has been named director of appointments and boards and commissions. Gordon will serve as the primary liaison to the City’s 49 boards and commissions, serve as the Mayor-Elect Gloria’s key advisor on filling vacancies, and will lead the campaign commitment of diversifying board and commission appointments. A proud native of Southeast San Diego, Gordon served as a district representative in Gloria’s Assembly Office and previously served as an advisor to former Council President Myrtle Cole. The National Urban League honored Gordon as the recipient of the inaugural “Heroes in the Movement” award. He has also received the President’s “Call to Service Award” from President Barack Obama. Gordon lives in Southeast San Diego.

Adrian Granda has been named director of government affairs. Granda has nearly a decade of experience working in public policy and government affairs in San Diego, most recently serving as the City of San Diego’s Director of Government Affairs. He has worked at the County of San Diego on regional transportation, housing and environmental policy. Prior to that, he served in Gloria’s Council District office in roles including Director of Communications and Director of Legislative Affairs. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from the California State University, Long Beach, where he focused on international relations, political theory and statistical analysis. Granda lives in Bankers Hill.

Matt Yagyagan has been named deputy director of policy. Yagyagan is the current Council Director of Government Affairs for San Diego City Council President Georgette GĂłmez. In this role, Matt manages the San Diego City Council’s legislative and regulatory priorities and actively monitors priority legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. Previously, Matt was the Director of Legislative Affairs for Council President GĂłmez, where he oversaw the development of the Council agenda, assisted the Council President in running City Council meetings, and advised on critical policy issues. Yagyagan is the Southern California Outreach Chair for the California Democratic Party’s Asian Pacific Islander Caucus and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Yagyagan lives in South Park.

Chida Warren-Darby has been named deputy director of communications. Warren-Darby is a media and marketing consultant with almost 20 years of experience. A second-generation newspaper publisher, Warren-Darby served as the co-publisher and managing editor of San Diego’s oldest and largest African American newspaper, San Diego Voice & Viewpoint. She is the publisher of Black & Magazine — a digital Black lifestyle publication, catering to the 22 to 44-year-old African American demographic. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of San Diego.

Walt Bishop has been named federal government affairs manager and will serve as Mayor-Elect Gloria’s primary liaison and advisor on federal affairs/legislation. Bishop is currently the Strategic Advisor for Federal Affairs to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Chief of Staff to First Lady Chirlane McCray where he serves as one of the administration’s liaisons to Congress and the federal government. Previously, Bishop was the political affairs manager for the Truman National Security Project where he oversaw the organization’s national political engagement and expansion efforts. He has worked in various capacities for Bill de Blasio’s 2020 Presidential Campaign, NextGen America, and the Office of United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Originally from New York, Bishop is a graduate of Hofstra University.

Gloria announced on Nov. 13 that Paola Avila will serve as chief of staff, Nick Serrano as deputy chief of staff and Jay Goldstone as interim chief operating officer. Additional appointments are expected to be announced this week.

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