Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao New Staff Includes Returning Falk, Controversial Harami
Stephen Falk was interim City Administrator for Mayor Schaaf, Brandon Harami was partial focus of two Thao staff complaints
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao issued a press release just about a half-hour ago. It introduced her entire City Hall Office Staff, all of the people new, save for one hold-over from her City Council Office: the controversial Brandon Harami.
As Thao’s office explains:
Brandon is continuing his service for Mayor Thao after spending 4 years working as her Communications and then Policy Director in her Council Office. He is a native Californian who grew up just south of the Bay Area. Raised by is Gay dads and single mother, Brandon became active in politics at a young age. He learned leadership and community organizing as an officer in both his local 4-H club and his High School’s GSA.From Press Release
But to LeAna Powell, who filed a complaint that is now an investigation by The Oakland Public Ethics Commission, Brandon was a key player in an environment that she says was bullying. Powell shares that Harami and Chief of Staff Renia Webb were the ones who tried to get her to work on Sheng’s campaign for Mayor of Oakland.
Then Renia Webb herself quit and then complained in an email seen by many Oakland city employees that she was abused physically and verbally. While Harami was not the person she blamed, Webb did later point a finger at Brandon’s office actions claiming that he made her sick. Powell advanced a similar complaint.
On the flip side and before the campaign, Brandon was a top flight professional for Sheng. But given the complaints logged against him by Powell and Webb, it’s fair to wonder what kind of aide he’s going to be moving forward.
Here’s The Original Press Release
Oakland, CA – Oakland’s Mayor Sheng Thao has asked current Oakland Public Works Director G. Harold Duffey and former Interim City Administrator Steven Falk to serve as Interim City Administrators after current Administrator Ed Reiskin steps away at the end of this month. The appointments have been sent to the Oakland City Council for its consideration next week.
Thao also announced today appointments to the senior leadership team in her office.
“I am very sad to see Ed go. He has been a tremendous resource for me both during my time on Council and over the last few weeks. And he has been a stalwart leader for everyone in our city during his tenure. We all wish him well in his new position at the University of California Santa Cruz,” said Mayor Thao.
G, Harold Duffey, will serve as Interim City Administrator from January 31 – March 12, Steven Falk will serve as Interim City Administrator starting March 13. Falk previously served as Oakland’s Interim City Administrator in 2020. The appointments are subject to Council approval.
“I’m extremely grateful to both Harold Duffey and Steven Falk for stepping into this role as our search continues,” said Thao. “Both are experienced, long-time public servants who I know will serve Oakland ably during this transition period.”
The ongoing search for a permanent City Administrator is being conducted by Ralph Anderson & Associates.
Today, the Mayor also announced key staff and appointments for the Office of Mayor, including Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield, a longtime Oakland leader.
“I’m so thrilled with the amazing talent we have assembled to help Oakland meet the challenges we face. I’m particularly excited to bring on board Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield who has years of experience working with community leaders and organizations, businesses, elected officials and government of all levels. She will help lead our office as we work for more affordable housing, safer communities and economic opportunity for all Oakland residents,” said Mayor Thao.
New staff and appointments announced today include:
Harold Duffey, Interim City Administrator (January 31 – March 12)
Harold Duffey currently serves as the Director of Oakland Public Works, a position he has held since July of 2021. Duffey has more than 30 years experience working for cities and counties throughout California, including serving as the Chief Executive Officer for the cities of Grand Terrace, Compton, and Oroville.
Steven Falk, Interim City Administrator (Pending Council Approval, March 13 – ongoing)
Steven Falk previously served as the interim City Administrator for Oakland from March to May 2020. He subsequently served as interim City Manager for the City of Hercules and has previously been the Interim City Manager for Richmond, California and the longtime City Manager for Lafayette, California.
Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, Deputy Mayor
Dr. Mayfield will serve as Mayor Thao’s representative to advance the policy agenda of the office and work on special projects at the direction of the mayor, in partnership with education, nonprofit and community leaders. A significant goal for Dr. Mayfield will be to attract and retain a HBCU to the City Oakland, an accomplishment that will accelerate the diverse vitality and opportunity generated by institutions of higher education for youth in the region.
Dr. Mayfield is a published author and a longtime community activist. She served as the convener of the Effective Teachers for Oakland Taskforce from 2006-2011 under Mayor Ronald V. Dellums. Currently, she serves as education policy adviser for the BWOPA state board and is a past president of the Oakland/Berkeley chapter. She is deeply committed to ensuring that Oakland youngsters have a stable permanent racially diverse teaching force composed of Oakland residents.
Dr. Kimberly Mayfield attended both public and private schools in Oakland before completing her BA in Black Studies and Political Science at UC Santa Barbara. She is a proud alumna of the University of San Francisco where she earned her masters and doctoral degrees. She started her career as a teacher in the Oakland Public Schools before joining the faculty at Holy Names University in 2001. Dr. Mayfield was the first African American to earn tenure at Holy Names University. Most recently she was the Dean of the School of Education and Liberal Arts and Vice President of External Relations and Strategic partnerships.
Leigh Hanson, Chief of Staff
Leigh will lead the coordination with the City Administrator’s Office and department directors to ensure the Mayor’s key priorities are achieved. Leigh has spent several years working with big city Mayors, most recently as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development for Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. Leigh has also worked in the philanthropic sector for almost 10 years, serving in key executive advisory and fundraising roles at GLIDE Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and at The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Leigh earned her bachelor’s in international affairs and economics from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR and has a Masters of Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She lives in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, CA with her husband, young son and dog Opie.
Zach Goldman, Chief of Policy & Legislative Affairs
Zach has 20 years of experience as a labor organizer, ensuring equitable treatment and safe conditions for workers in Oakland and throughout California. He was the political and policy director at the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21 from 2018 to 2023, where advocated for 10,000 public sector workers across the Bay Area.
Prior to that service, Zach worked for a number of labor organizations including the California Nurses Association, Change to Win Strategic Organizing Center and SEIU Local 790. He has served in leadership roles on the Alameda and San Francisco Central Labor Councils. Zach is a longtime Oakland resident, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He is a graduate of UC San Diego where he received a BA in Sociology.
Brooklyn Williams, Chief of Education & Community Safety
Brooklyn Williams has worked in public schools, community based organizations, and youth development programs in Oakland for 25 years. She has supported alternative/continuation schools in Oakland Unified School District and Alameda County for over 15 years and directed programs for youth involved in the juvenile justice system for 22 years.
Brooklyn comes to the Mayor’s Office after serving as Senior Advisor to the CA State Superintendent, Tony Thurmond. Brooklyn is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she received a BA in Social Welfare and a Master’s in Education.
Mayra Chavez, Director of Community Engagement
Mayra is excited to continue her longtime work supporting Oakland’s communities as the Director of Community Engagement. Mayra previously served Oakland as a member of Councilmember Noel Gallo’s Office. She then worked for The Unity Council, a 57-year old non-profit serving Oakland’s Latinx community in Fruitvale. There she designed and led a new business department to support small businesses in Oakland and launched Onward Oakland which served over 300 clients.
Mayra is a Board Member of the Oakland Latino Chamber of Commerce and founding member of the Alameda County Chamber of Commerce. She is an Oakland native who grew up in the Fruitvale and Havenscourt Neighborhoods where she worked in her parents’ restaurant.
Yuri Sadiki-Torres, Director of Community Engagement
Yuri is a third generation Community Organizer and a Mills College graduate. Her passion for service was instilled early by family members and mentors such as her godfather Yuri Kochiyama. Yuri has organized and researched with organizations in Oakland and New York City including Faith in Action East Bay and the Community Service Society of New York around housing policy, economic inequity, gun-violence and environmental racism.
Yuri was born and raised in the Bronx and has lived in Oakland for the last 10 years.
Joe Genolio, Policy Director
Joe is a Bay Area native and Oakland resident with a passion for transportation and environmental justice. Joe joins the Mayor’s Office after two years working on infrastructure, transportation, and climate policy at the City of Berkeley for Councilmember Terry Taplin. He also worked previously as a political organizer with the Sunrise Movement and interned at the House of Representatives for Congressman Jared Huffman. Joe has degrees in Politics and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz.
Brandon Harami, Policy Director
Brandon is continuing his service for Mayor Thao after spending 4 years working as her Communications and then Policy Director in her Council Office. He is a native Californian who grew up just south of the Bay Area. Raised by is Gay dads and single mother, Brandon became active in politics at a young age. He learned leadership and community organizing as an officer in both his local 4-H club and his High School’s GSA.
“Jimmy” Nang Hoang, Special Assistant to the Mayor
Jimmy started working at age 13 to help support his family, while attending school full time. He brings that dedication and passion to the Mayor’s Office after years working with the Oakland and Alameda County Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities to help educate, increase public awareness and establish stronger relationships within our diverse city.
Jimmy has lived in Oakland for over 34 years and after emigrating with his family from war-torn Vietnam. He attended Oakland public schools, Laney College, Merritt College, San Francisco State University and Cal State East Bay.