20. Rhys Williams
Ah, 2019. Back in those halcyon days, before everything revolved around masks, viruses and opening/closing decisions, there were other emergencies to be prepared for and Gov. Newsom directed a good deal of energy to them. On his first full day as governor, Newsom addressed emergency preparedness and announced plans to beef up the state’s ability to combat natural disasters. He established the position of Senior Advisor on Emergency Preparedness and Management within the Governor’s Office to directly coordinate with Administration officials across agencies and departments, as well as federal, state and local officials and public safety experts. The position was filled by a longtime ally, Rhys D.J. Williams, who previously served as chief of staff when Newsom was lieutenant governor. Of course, what no one saw coming was that the biggest emergency of the century would not be a wildfire, but a virus that would quickly kill more Californians than every one of the state’s wildfires combined. Whatever the emergency, Williams sits at the center of the administration’s response.