The State Worker

Brown appoints two Democratic staff members to business agency

Sacramento Bee file photo, 2008

Gov. Jerry Brown this week moved to fill two top-ranking vacancies in the agency that regulates housing and professional licenses with one of his former political aides and with a senior Democratic staff member from the Legislature.

He named Alexis Podesta, a former staff member in his office, to become the secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. Podesta has carried out that job as acting secretary since November 2015, when former Secretary Anna Caballero re-entered elected politics in a successful campaign for an Assembly seat.

Podesta, 36, will need Senate confirmation. The position pays $194,105 a year. She worked for Brown from 2011 to 2015 as director of external affairs and director of international affairs. Previously, she worked for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Walt Disney Company.

Brown also appointed Dean Grafilo, chief of staff to a Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, to lead the Department of Consumer Affairs. That department is one of the larger organizations within the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. It regulates more than 40 professional licensing boards.

Grafilo, 44, will replace Awet Kidane, who announced his resignation earlier this month. Grafilo will earn a salary of $176,691.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at