Introducing Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Leadership Teams: A Closer Look at the Faces Driving Change

We’re getting a better idea of his inner circle now that Brandon Johnson is the mayor. These are the people who will shape the Johnson administration, from labor leaders to City Hall insiders.

Rich Guidice is the chief of staff

Rich Guidice, the former executive director of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications who resigned in April, has been replaced by.

Guidice has a good reputation at City Hall. His career began under the former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He will be able to help navigate its bureaucratic maze.

Guidice was also responsible for overseeing large city events, in addition to the emergency call center. This experience will be useful to the mayor when the city is preparing to host the summer festival and hits the gas.


Chief Financial Officer Jill Jaworski

Jill Jaworski is a 25-year-old municipal financial advisor and public finance expert who joins the Johnson administration after serving as managing director of PFM Financial Advisors.

Budget Director Annette C.M. Guzman

Annette C.M. Guzman was previously the budget director of Cook County. According to the Johnson Team, she previously served as deputy assessor for the Cook County Assessor and deputy chief administrator/chief of staff at the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. She was an attorney with Sidley Austin before her government positions, and worked as legal counsel for corporations and banking institutions.

Chief Operating Officer John Roberson

John Roberson is currently the Director of Government and Legal Affairs and Deputy Chief Staff for Cook County. He was previously a member of the Richard M. Daley administration. Roberson has been involved in government since the late 1990s, when he was working in the Richard M. Daley Administration. He held successive roles as commissioner of Sewers (overseeing O’Hare Airport) and Commissioner of Buildings (overseeing Midway Airport).

Johnson has another connection with the City Council, as he was previously Ald. David Moore, 17th.

Roberson has held many positions outside of government. He was the Executive Vice-President of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, and the Vice-President of Strategic Partnerships at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Kenya K. Merritt, Deputy Mayor for Business and Neighborhood Development

Kenya K. Merritt will be taking the position of city after serving as program officer at the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. According to the Johnson Team, she was previously chief small business officer for the department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection in the city and the first deputy commissioner. She also served as CFO and interim Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

According to a press release, Merritt’s “task” will be to promote wage growth, entrepreneurialism and investment in all 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

Director of Policy S. Mayumi Grigsby

According to the Johnson administration, S. Mayumi Grigsby, chair of the Cook County Human Rights Commission is “an author, advocate, and attorney”, who has also served on the board of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Christina Pacione Zayas, deputy chief of staff

Johnson appointed state senator Christina Pacione Zayas to the position of first deputy chief. Pacione-Zayas was a part of a wave of progressive elected officials that dominated politics on the Milwaukee Avenue corridor in the city’s Northwest Side. She played a key role in mobilizing grassroots backing for Johnson’s election. Johnson ensures that Pacione Zayas is an influential leader of the progressive movement from which he comes.

She was re-elected in November after being appointed to the General Assembly by Gov. Rauner in 2020. She replaced the current Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Iris Martinez. She was previously a vice-president of the Erikson Institute, and board secretary of the Illinois State Board of Education. Her appointment to these positions came from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Jennifer L. Johnson, Deputy Mayor

Jennifer L. Johnson has been appointed deputy mayor for education, youth, and human services. She was most recently chief of staff at the Chicago Teachers Union, and taught at Lincoln Park High School.

Garien Gatewood, Deputy Mayor for Community Safety

Garien Gatewood was appointed as the deputy mayor of the city for community safety. This position is charged with formulating a progressive strategy by the mayor to tackle the root causes behind crime.

Gatewood is currently the director of Illinois Justice Project, and was appointed to this position by Governor. J.B. Pritzker was appointed to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. This state agency develops strategies to improve public safety.