17. Yolanda Richardson
Yolanda Richardson heads a cabinet-level agency called “GovOps,” or Government Operations Agency, which Jerry Brown created in 2013 and is intended to bring organization and rigor to nearly a dozen state operations, including Human Resources, the Census Office, the Franchise Tax Board, CalPERS, CalSTRS and something called the Department of Tax and Fee Administration, among others. Phew! Running GovOps must be like herding cats, but people we talk to say Richardson is doing the deed. Gov. Newsom appointed her in January 2020, and four days after being sworn in, Newsom ordered her to handle the burgeoning pandemic. (Welcome to GovOps, Yolanda). Richardson is viewed as smart and fast with a get-things-done attitude – one of her first chores was transitioning state employees to work from home – and we hope that continues to be true as she rides herd over big bureaucracies. She also was part of the state’s acquisition of personal protective equipment, an acquisition that drew harsh scrutiny last year. Richardson is a former chief deputy director of Covered California, and served there for five years.