Gov. Mark Dayton’s chief of staff is stepping down to become St. Paul’s next deputy mayor, serving alongside Mayor-elect Melvin Carter when he takes office next year.
Jaime Tincher, who has served as the governor’s chief of staff since February 2014, will lead Carter’s transition team. She previously served as Dayton’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs and helped lead several of the administration’s major policy initiatives, including expanding all-day kindergarten, increasing the state’s minimum wage and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Her departure is among a wave of staff changes in Dayton’s office as the DFL governor enters the last of his eight years in office. Joanna Dornfeld, who currently serves as the governor’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, will succeed Tincher as chief of staff. The governor’s top communications staffer, Linden Zakula, is leaving to take a job with a New York City-based public relations firm, prompting promotions for other members of Dayton’s communications team.
In a news release Monday, Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith praised the work of Tincher and the other administration staff members on the move.
“Serving as Chief of Staff to the Governor is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in Minnesota,” Smith said. “Jaime Tincher has done the job extraordinarily well, with grace, intelligence, and a relentless vision for how our Administration could make a positive and lasting impact in the lives of all Minnesotans. She poured her whole heart and soul into making Minnesota better, and we are all better because of it.”
Dornfeld moves into her new role after working in state government for more than a decade. Before joining the governor’s staff, she was a policy adviser to the state’s revenue commissioner and previously worked in several positions at the Minnesota House of Representatives, including as a committee administrator and House DFL Caucus research director.
In a statement, the governor’s office said Dornfeld has been a major contributor to the administration’s work on early education funding, economic development programs and expanding broadband to greater Minnesota.
“Joanna Dornfeld will be a terrific Chief of Staff,” Dayton said in the statement. “She is brilliant, dedicated, and incredibly hard-working. Joanna has earned the trust and respect of our Cabinet and staff, legislators, and community leaders across Minnesota. I have complete confidence in her.”
Meanwhile, Zakula, who has served in Dayton’s office since 2013, will leave the communications team in early December. He’ll be replaced by Matt Swenson, a Dayton staffer since 2012, who has worked in several communications positions. Laura Cederberg, currently director of state agency communications, will fill Swenson’s former role as assistant chief of staff for communications.