Brown names Diana Dooley top aide

Diana Dooley, newly named as the executive secretary of Gov. Brown's office, speaks at a 2017 health care conference sponsored by Capitol Weekly. (Photo: Scott Duncan, Capitol Weekly)

Diana Dooley, California’s top health official since 2011, has been named executive secretary of Gov. Brown’s office, the top administrative post in state government and, effectively, the governor’s chief of staff with broad control over the bureaucracy.

The job, which does not require Senate confirmation, pays $201,876 annually. Brown announced the appointment Thursday.

Dooley, 67, served Brown during his first two terms from 1975 to 1983 as special assistant and legislative director. In November 2010, Brown was elected to his third term as governor and announced Dooley’s appointment — his first public appointment — as Health and Human Services Secretary even before he was sworn in as governor in January 2011.

Dooley also chaired the board of Covered California, which oversees the federal health care reform law in California.

Dooley replaces Nancy McFadden, 59, who died in March.

Dooley, a Democrat, was president and chief executive officer of the California Children’s Hospital Association from 2006 to 2011, and general counsel and vice president of Valley Children’s Hospital from 2000 to 2006.

Dooley was a partner in the law firm Paden and Dooley from 1998 to 2000, was the research attorney for the Tulare County Superior Court from 1996 to 1998 and owned Dooley/Hill and Associates, a public relations and advertising agency in Visalia, from 1985 to 1995.

She was an analyst at the State Personnel Board from 1974 to 1975. She has a law degree from the San Joaquin College of Law.

Brown named Michael Wilkening, 47, of Sacramento, as the new Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, where he has served as undersecretary since 2008. He served in several positions at the California Department of Finance from 1995 to 2008, including program budget manager for the Health and Human Services Unit.

Wilkening has a Master’s Degree in political science from UC Davis. This position requires Senate confirmation and pays $201,869. Wilkening is a Republican.

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