The Matchmaker

If you want to know how Los Angeles is recruiting so many talented city commissioners, board members and department heads, ask Robin Kramer. As chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Kramer has helped the mayor screen and select the environmentalists, activists, elected officials and business experts who make up his administration.

With Kramer at his side, Villaraigosa has sought out dozens of prominent civic leaders to run or oversee the departments that deal with housing, homelessness, parks, economic development and public safety — not to mention high-powered agencies like the Department of Water and Power and Los Angeles World Airports. That may explain why ACLU head Ramona Ripston is on a panel dealing with the homeless, former Councilman Mike Woo is on the planning commission, and former DWP head S. David Freeman is now presiding over the harbor commission.

“She has an uncanny ability to match people’s talents to the right position,” said City Council President Eric Garcetti.

Kramer, 52, logged nearly six years as a staffer to former Councilman Richard Alatorre before joining the administration of Mayor Richard Riordan, where she ascended to the position of chief of staff in 1995. She spent three years in that role before leaving for the California Community Foundation and, more recently, the Broad Foundation.

A resident of Windsor Square, Kramer now plays traffic cop on Villaraigosa’s policy initiatives, coordinating the mayor’s advisers as they debate ways of carrying out his initiatives — taking over the Los Angeles Unified School District, hiring more police officers and finding the money to build a subway to Santa Monica. “I’m a middle child. That’s basically it,” she said. “I learned from my two brothers how to be a very good peacemaker.”


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