St. Paul, MN – Governor-Elect Mark Dayton Friday announced his first staff hires, selecting Tina Smith as his Chief of Staff and naming the senior leadership of his office: Dana Anderson, Michelle Kelm-Helgen, and Andrea Mokros. Dayton has also chosen Katharine Tinucci and Fatima Villasenor to fill key roles in the Governor’s Office.
As Smith assumes her new responsibilities as Chief of Staff, Dayton also named Josie Johnson as Co-Chair of his Transition, to continue the Transition’s substantial outreach efforts as it works to build the next Administration.
"I’m very proud to announce this Leadership Team," said Governor-Elect Dayton. "Each is an experienced professional in her own right. And, together, they form a very strong nucleus of the Governor’s Office. We will be announcing additional members key members of the Governor’s Leadership Team shortly.
"I’m especially proud to have Tina Smith leading our team," continued Governor-Elect Dayton. "She is widely known and respected not only as a strong, seasoned leader, but also for her ability to build bridges and reach common ground. I’ve asked her to spearhead our focus on government reform, so that we can deliver the best possible services to taxpayers at the lowest possible costs."
"I also want to especially thank my long-time friend, Josie Johnson, for agreeing to co-chair our Transition," concluded Dayton. "I look forward to being the beneficiary, once again, of Josie’s extraordinary wisdom, and I hope for her continuing guidance after the new Administration begins."
Tina Flint Smith will serve as Chief of Staff. Smith previously served as Chief of Staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and has diverse experience in the business and nonprofit sectors. Tina started her career at General Mills, founded a marketing and communications firm that served foundations and businesses in Minnesota and across the country, and is a veteran of dozens of local, state and national political campaigns.
"Our entire team feels a big responsibility to put this office to work for the people of Minnesota," said Smith. "Governor-elect Dayton is completely focused on solving Minnesota’s financial crisis and getting our economy moving again. It’s a huge privilege to help advance that work."
Josie Johnson will serve as Co-Chair of Dayton’s Transition. Johnson has a long history in community leadership, beginning in the early 60's when she lobbied for the passage of bills on issues from fair housing to employment opportunity. She served as acting Director of the Minneapolis Urban League from 1967-68, and as an aide to the Mayor of Minneapolis beginning in 1968. She went on to serve as a member of the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents from 1971-73, and later served as the University’s Diversity Director and as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. The University of Minnesota established the annual Josie Robinson Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award in her honor. Johnson founded Josie Robinson Johnson and Associates in 1996. She is a Minneapolis Institute of Arts trustee, a Minnesota Medical Foundation trustee and sits on the advisory board of the Harriet Tubman Center. She is a recipient of the Committed to the Vision Award from the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and the African American Community Endowment Fund Award.
Dana Anderson will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff. Anderson is currently Chief of Staff to the Transition and previously served as Dayton’s Campaign Manager. Anderson has worked for Dayton for more than ten years, beginning as his driver on his 2000 campaign for Senate and continuing in several capacities in Dayton’s U.S. Senate Office.
Michelle Kelm-Helgen will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs. Most recently, Kelm-Helgen was Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller; and previously managed a government relations firm and worked as Sales and Marketing Director for City Venture, a division of Control Data Corporation. From 2000-2007, Kelm-Helgen was elected as a member and chair of the Eastern Carver County School Board.
Andrea Mokros will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Outreach. Mokros is currently Principal of Mokros Strategies, LLC, crafting successful political and communications strategies for clients, and frequently traveling on behalf of the White House to advance domestic and international trips. She has served Minnesota in both state and federal government, including as Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and as Communications Director to Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger.
Katharine Tinucci will serve as Press Secretary. Tinucci currently serves as Communications Director for the Transition, and served as Deputy Campaign Manager of Dayton’s campaign. She is an attorney, a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and the University of St. Thomas Law School.
Fatima Villasenor will serve as Senior Aide to the Governor. Villasenor currently serves as a bilingual Senior Clerk for the Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Service Center, and previously worked in Dayton’s Senate office as a constituent advocate. She is an attorney, a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law and of the University of St. Thomas.