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Hochul names top aides on eve of becoming NY governor

Hochul addresses New Yorkers 5

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul gives a news conference at the State Capitol, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 in Albany, N.Y. Hochul is preparing to take the reins of power after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign from office. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

As Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul prepares to be sworn in as governor early Tuesday, she has named two top aides who will serve in her administration. 

Hochul on Monday appointed Karen Persichilli Keogh as secretary to the governor and Elizabeth Fine to be counsel to the governor, both of whom have decades of experience in government. 

Persichilli Keogh was the New York state director for former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and was campaign manager for Clinton's 2006 reelection bid. She also led U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's transition from the House of Representatives to the Senate and was a senior political adviser to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2009 campaign. 

Prior to joining Hochul's staff, Persichilli Keogh served as the head of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. 

A Nassau County native, she earned a bachelor's degree in social work at Stony Brook University and a master's degree in Clinical Industrial Social Work from Columbia University. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn. 

Fine will join Hochul's staff after serving as executive vice president and general counsel of Empire State Development. Before being the agency's chief legal officer, she was general counsel of the New York City Council for eight years, from 2006 to 2014. 

Her past experience includes seven years at the U.S. Department of Justice. She was the counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno and the principal deputy assistant attorney general for policy. She also worked as special counsel to the president in Bill Clinton's administration and counsel to the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. 

Early in her career, Fine — a graduate of Brown University, New York University School of Law and Georgetown Law School — was the counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. 

"Karen Persichilli Keogh and Elizabeth Fine bring the depth of knowledge, leadership and experience that it will take to meet the challenges New Yorkers face," Hochul said. "As governor, I will assemble a strong team to turn the corner on the pandemic and serve the best interests of New York, whether it's defeating COVID, getting more people vaccinated, or strengthening our economy." 

Hochul will be sworn in at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. She will succeed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is resigning amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. 

While Hochul will outline her agenda at a later date, she's already made responding to the COVID-19 surge a priority. She also wants to accelerate the distribution of rent relief aid to help landlords and tenants affected by the pandemic. 

Hochul will become governor as some parts of New York, especially the downstate area and Hudson Valley, are dealing with the aftereffects of Tropical Storm Henri. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at

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