Ann M. O'Leary (born 1971)[1] is an American political advisor, attorney, and nonprofit leader, who served as Chief of Staff to California Governor Gavin Newsom and as co-chair of the Governor's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.[2] She is now a partner at the international law firm Jenner & Block.

Ann O'Leary
Ann O'Leary speaks in front of a podium
Personal details
Born1971 (age 50–51)
Orono, Maine, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 2002; separated 2016)
EducationMount Holyoke College (BA)
Stanford University (MA)
University of California, Berkeley (JD)

O'Leary previously served as co-executive director of the Clinton-Kaine Transition Project, after serving as a senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential Campaign.[3] After the 2016 Presidential election, she became a partner in the Silicon Valley office of an international law firm, where her practice focused on strategic consulting and crisis management.[4]

Over her career, O'Leary has helped to establish several non-profit organizations promoting progressive policy on income inequality, health care, education, and workforce development.[5] Earlier in her career, she served as legislative director to Senator Hillary Clinton and worked in the White House and the U.S. Department of Education.[6]

Early life and educationEdit

O'Leary was born and raised in Orono, Maine.[7] She is the daughter of Charles John "Chick" O'Leary, a union leader, and Pamela Braley O'Leary, a social worker.[8] She is of Irish descent.[9]

After graduating from Orono High School,[10] O'Leary attended Mount Holyoke College, where she was a member of the College Democrats.[11] She earned a B.A. in critical social thought in 1993,[12] an M.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 1997, and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2005.[1]


Clinton administrationEdit

O'Leary began her career as a volunteer in the Clinton administration.[11] She later worked as a Special Assistant to the President at the White House Domestic Policy Council.[11][13] She also advised First Lady Hillary Clinton, acting as a liaison between Hillary Clinton's and President Bill Clinton's policy teams.[14] In an August 2000 memo to Bill Clinton's Domestic Policy Adviser Bruce Reed, O'Leary urged the government to consider an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, similar to one issued in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt banning them from race-based discrimination.[14]

United States SenateEdit

From 2001 to 2003, O'Leary was Hillary Clinton's Senate aide and legislative director.[11][15] She oversaw a "wide range of issues,"[16] including passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.

Legal careerEdit

Following her service in the U.S. Senate, O'Leary attended and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2005.[1] She clerked for Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[17] Following her judicial clerkship, O'Leary served as a deputy city attorney for the City of San Francisco, where she provided counsel to city agencies and served on the City Attorney's Affirmative Litigation Task Force.[17] As a deputy city attorney, she helped develop the strategy to combat predatory lending practices by payday lenders, which resulted in a $7.5 million settlement for low-income victims.[18]

Public policyEdit

In 2008, O'Leary was appointed as a Lecturer and the founding executive director of the Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.[19] From 2008 to 2015, she also served as a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress.[20] She published work regarding a variety of policy issues, including the international competitiveness of the American workforce.[21] After President Barack Obama was elected, O'Leary advised his transition team on early childhood education.[22]

In 2011, O'Leary was appointed as a senior vice president at Next Generation, a non-profit organization promoting progressive policy to address economic inequality and climate change.[23]

O'Leary was recognized for her policy leadership in 2015 as one of Politico's Top 50 Thinkers, Doers, and Visionaries Transforming American Politics.[24]

2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaignEdit

During the 2016 United States presidential election, O'Leary served as one of three senior policy advisors to Hillary Clinton, focusing on developing policy related to health, education, labor, and economic security.[25][26] For her role in the campaign, O'Leary was named to the Politico Top 50 list for a second consecutive year.[27]

In August 2016, O'Leary was appointed as co-executive director of Clinton's transition team in Washington, D.C,[28][29][30]

Post-2016 law practiceEdit

After the 2016 election, O'Leary joined the Silicon Valley office of an international law firm as a partner, where her practice focused on strategic consulting and crisis management.[31] She has advised multiple high-profile organizations, including the Silicon Valley Community Foundation as it investigated and navigated allegations of a toxic work environment.[32] A team of lawyers led by O'Leary published a report that found "many allegations from current and former employees were substantiated," and made recommendations for reform that were adopted by the Foundation's board in full.[33]

O'Leary also represented numerous clients on a pro bono basis, including law professors in defending California's Sanctuary City laws, the National Women's Law Center in combating workplace sexual harassment, and Mark Barnes and Leana Wen in providing a public health perspective to a case involving Connecticut's response to the threat of an Ebola outbreak.[34][35][36]

In 2021, she joined Jenner & Block as one of the founding partners of its San Francisco office.

Chief of Staff to the Governor of CaliforniaEdit

On November 9, 2018, three days after Election Day, Governor-elect Gavin Newsom announced O'Leary as his incoming chief of staff.[37]

In this role, O’Leary has championed several key administration initiatives, including an increase in California's earned income tax credit,[38] expanded child care and paid family leave,[39] subsidies to help families afford health insurance,[40] new investments to build housing and reduce homelessness,[41] and the promotion of civil rights, including Newsom's decision to halt capital punishment in the state.[42] 

In addition to serving as the Governor's highest-ranking advisor, O’Leary also led the Governor's energy strike team in the aftermath of devastating wildfires,[43] which led to both safety improvements and new measures to fight climate change, including the Governor's executive order that requires that by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles.[44][45]

O’Leary co-chaired the Governor's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force released its final report in November 2020.[46]

On December 21, 2020, O'leary resigned as Chief of Staff. Her resignation was announced along with the hiring of lobbyist Jim Deboo, who was selected to serve as Executive Secretary.[47]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, O'Leary married Goodwin Liu, now a justice on the California Supreme Court.[48] They have two children.[8] On August 30, 2016, O'Leary and Liu announced in a joint statement that they were separating.[49]


  1. ^ a b c Easton, Nina (June 2, 2015). "Meet the wonk shaping Hillary Clinton's plans for the country". Fortune. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  2. ^ "Governor Newsom Taps California Business, Labor, Health Care and Community Leaders for New Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery". California Governor. 2020-04-17. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  3. ^ "Clinton-Kaine Transition Project - Staff and Organization". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  4. ^ LLP, Boies Schiller Flexner. "Ann O'Leary To Join Boies Schiller Flexner". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  5. ^ Brown, Emma (2016-02-17). "New nonprofit aims to push for social mobility, educational equity". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  6. ^ "Bio: Ann O'Leary '93". Mount Holyoke College. 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  7. ^ Tipping, Mike (October 31, 2016). "The woman who could bring Maine values to the White House". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Charles John "Chick," "Charlie," O'Leary Jr". Bangor Daily News. January 14, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Congressional Record—Senate: Executive Session" (PDF). Congressional Record. May 18, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2017. Liu uses a wedding photo that shows him and his new bride, Ann O'Leary, the Irish American daughter of a social worker and union leader from Orono, ME.
  10. ^ Cousins, Christopher (April 15, 2015). "Maine woman hired as one of Hillary Clinton's three senior advisers". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Sandler, Lauren (April 14, 2015). "Paid Leave Takes a Place on Hillary Clinton's Platform". The New Republic. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  12. ^ Kertscher, Tom (October 12, 2016). "The visionary work of Ann O'Leary '93". Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  13. ^ "Domestic Policy Council: Staff". National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Gerstein, Josh (April 10, 2015). "In Bill Clinton White House, Hillary Clinton's staff helped push on gay rights". Politico. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  15. ^ Lombardi, Kristen (February 13, 2007). "While Schumer Slept". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 1, 2017. "Schumer was happy to support the effort," says Ann O'Leary, Clinton's legislative director in D.C. from 2001 to 2003.
  16. ^ Yglesias, Matthew (August 16, 2016). "Hillary Clinton's newly announced transition team gives us a hint of her priorities as president". Vox. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Trio Honored at Berkeley Law's Citation Award Luncheon". UC Berkeley. June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  18. ^ Pamer, Melissa (September 18, 2012). "Payday Lender to Refund Up to $7.5M for Alleged Illegal Lending Practices". NBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  19. ^ "The Power to Act". The American Prospect. September 1, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Shriver Report". The American Prospect. September 1, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Competition that Really Matters". Center For American Progress. August 21, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  22. ^ Bidwell, Allie (June 18, 2015). "Bridging the Democratic Divide". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  23. ^ Haberman, Maggie (March 24, 2015). "Hillary Clinton Caught Between Dueling Forces on Education: Teachers and Wealthy Donors". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  24. ^ "Our Guide to the Thinkers, Doers, and Visionaries Transforming American Politics". Politico. 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  25. ^ Nather, David (April 14, 2015). "Hillary Clinton names top three wonks for campaign". Politico. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  26. ^ Harris, Richard (July 29, 2016). "What About Health Care and Alzheimer's?". Next Avenue. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  27. ^ "Heather Boushey, Ann O'Leary, Neera Tanden". Politico. 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  28. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (August 16, 2016). "Hillary Clinton Puts White House Transition Team in Place". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  29. ^ Cohn, Jonathan (September 21, 2016). "The Future of America Is Being Written in This Tiny Office". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2017. O'Leary is now leading the official transition operation in Washington.
  30. ^ Strauss, Valerie (November 3, 2016). "Who will be the next U.S. education secretary?". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  31. ^ Megerian, Chris (January 18, 2017). "Former Hillary Clinton policy advisor heads to Silicon Valley". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  32. ^ Yglesias, Matthew (April 24, 2016). "Silicon Valley Community Foundation widens probe of 'toxic' workplace". Vox. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  33. ^ Dolan, Kerry (June 27, 2018). "After an Investigation Into Harassment Claims, CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation Leaves". Forbes. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  34. ^ "Brief of Amicus Curiae in City and County of San Francisco v. Donald Trump" (PDF). Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. February 12, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  35. ^ "Brief of Amicus Curiae in City and County of San Francisco v. Donald Trump" (PDF). County of Santa Clara. October 4, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  36. ^ "Brief of Amicus Curiae in Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc" (PDF). Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. May 30, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  37. ^ "Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom names former Clinton advisor his chief of staff". November 9, 2018.
  38. ^ Matthews, Dylan (2019-06-27). "Gavin Newsom's biggest accomplishment as governor yet: a $1 billion cash plan for the poor". Vox. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  39. ^ Murphy, Katy. "California expands family leave protections to millions of small business workers". Politico PRO. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  40. ^ Adler, Ben. "Budget Deal's Big Health Care Changes: Middle Class Subsidies On Covered California, And A State Individual Mandate". Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  41. ^ Garcia, Jacqueline (2020-10-02). "Newsom allocates $600 million for permanent housing for homeless". CalMatters. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  42. ^ Arango, Tim (2019-03-13). "California Death Penalty Suspended; 737 Inmates Get Stay of Execution (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  43. ^ "California Gov. Gavin Newsom gets no honeymoon as PG&E bankruptcy, LA school strike hit". 2019-01-16. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  44. ^ "CaliforniasEnergyFuture". California Governor. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  45. ^ Becker, Rachel (2020-09-23). "Newsom orders ban of new gas-powered cars by 2035". CalMatters. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  46. ^ "Governor Releases Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery Report". California Governor. 2020-11-20. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  47. ^ Bollag, Sophia (December 21, 2020). "Gavin Newsom's Chief of Staff Ann O'Leary Steps Down". Sacramento Bee.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  48. ^ Egelko, Bob (March 14, 2010). "Obama nominee Goodwin Liu an unassuming man". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 26, 2017. Liu and his wife of eight years, Ann O'Leary....
  49. ^ Matier, Phil; Ross, Andy (August 31, 2016). "Clinton adviser, state justice in marital split—enter Jane Kim". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 12, 2017.

External linksEdit