Gov. Kate Brown Announces Staff Changes, Including Addition of Two Senior SEIU Officials

The staffing shakeup began with the departure of Nik Blosser to work for President-elect Joe Biden.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a number of staff changes late Friday afternoon, highlighted by the addition of two senior officials from Service Employees International Union Local 503, the state's largest public employee union.

Brown hired Andrea Cooper, formerly SEIU's political director and top aide to SEIU executive director Melissa Unger, to be her deputy chief of staff. Cooper ran Brown's 2018 reelection campaign and previously ran Future PAC, the campaign committee for the House Democrats.

Also joining Brown's office from SEIU 503 is Jenn Baker, who served as director of SEIU's state council. Baker previously worked for Brown in 2019 and also ran Future PAC and lobbied for the Oregon Nurses Association. She will serve as Brown's labor and workforce policy adviser.

Brown also elevated her adviser on revenue, workforce and labor, Christian Gaston, to the position of budget director. He replaces Debbie Koreski, who is joining Columbia Public Affairs, a lobbying firm run by her onetime boss, former House Speaker Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone).

Gaston, who formerly worked for Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Gov. John Kitzhaber, will report to Brown's new chief of staff, Gina Zejdlik, who replaced Nik Blosser last month. Blosser left to work for President-elect Joe Biden's transition team.

"As the governor looks to take on what lies ahead in the next two years, from getting Oregon families back on their feet, kids back into classrooms, and to making sure everyone in Oregon has access to COVID-19 vaccines, we've built a team reflective of Oregon's values that is committed to facing those challenges alongside Governor Brown," Zejdlik said in a statement.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW’s journalism through our Give!Guide Fundraising page.