8. Richard Figueroa
Being a health expert during a pandemic means you have a lot on your plate, and that’s certainly true with Richard Figueroa, who is a key health adviser to Gov. Newsom, responsible for sorting through the proposals of rival health interests. He works closely with Mark Ghaly (No. 3). In one way or another, Figueroa has been a significant figure in the administrations of three governors. Three years ago, Newsom named him acting interim director of Health Care Services, the sprawling agency that handles Medi-Cal programs. Figueroa worked as a Senate Insurance Committee consultant, then served as a legislative director in the Department of Insurance. He was deputy legislative secretary under Gray Davis and a deputy cabinet secretary under Arnold Schwarzenegger. His official title is Deputy Cabinet Secretary – an elastic term that covers a lot of territory, and the same one he had under Schwarzenegger – but his real role is to serve as the governor’s political brains on health-related politics and policy. Figueroa came to Newsom’s team from The California Endowment.
Updated Aug. 9, 2022