The private and public worlds often come together in the Capitol, and nobody knows that better than Nicole Rice, who worked in the Horseshoe – that inner sanctum of the Capitol – and now works for Strategic Counsel, PLC as a policy strategist. Rice, an attorney, served as deputy director for strategic planning at the state Department of Consumer Affairs and as acting chief deputy secretary in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s appointments unit, a crucial function. Capitol Weekly spoke with her last week.
You’re in the private sector now, but do you miss government?
I enjoyed it immensely. The Schwarzenegger administration was a fabulous administration. The governor is very energetic and he has a vision for California and a great passion for the people of California. The governor is very open and that added the excitement of being part of the process.
Any changes now that you are back in the private world?
Well, this is the second time I’ve been in the private world. I really enjoy working the third house. I enjoy the creativity, I enjoy the flexibility. I enjoy the process of helping individuals negotiate through what can be a very intimidating process. I worked on grass-roots campaigns, and I loved sharing with people the issues that might be on the ballot and having the satisfaction of seeing them become part of the process.
More creative than in government?
Well, here in the third house creativity is very prevalent. Our clients have visions. We have relationships with decision-makers and we take our clients’ visions and we craft a solution. Ultimately, we help them achieve their objective according to the realities of the Legislature.
Are there difficult adjustments in going from one to the other?
I learned a long time ago about working in both. I am an African American female and I’m also a Republican. This is a business about making friends and reaching consensus, and while I may have a view that differs from a legislator or a client, that’s not my job. My job is to utilize all my resources and bring them to bear on behalf of my client.
I still find time to read. I read Dan Walters all the time.