Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

SF mayoral chief of staff Steve Kawa to retire

Steve Kawa, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s longtime chief of staff, is expected to retire in June, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

(Steve Kawa will retire in June. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Steve Kawa will retire in June. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Kawa, a gay man, has served as a gatekeeper for three mayors, starting as deputy chief of staff under Willie Brown. He then became chief of staff to Gavin Newsom, and stayed in that role for Lee.

Gay former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a longtime colleague and friend, told the B.A.R. that Kawa will be missed.

He’s had a monumental career, working for mayors as different as Brown, Newsom, and Lee,” Dufty said, adding that Kawa got his start in City Hall as an aide to former Supervisor Tom Hsieh.

Dufty also credited Kawa with stepping in to help establish the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at times when the project was experiencing financial or other challenges. Many people worked to see the center project to fruition, “and Steve played a pivotal role,” Dufty said.

“It was a point of pride to him as a gay man that the center happened,” Dufty added.

Kawa, 54, is married to Dan Henkle, with whom he is raising two children.

According to sources, Jason Elliott, a straight man who is currently deputy chief of staff, will replace Kawa.

Dufty said that he and Kawa would “laugh a lot” about the time they served as supervisors’ aides. At the time, the pay for board aides was much lower than it is today.

“We’d go to the Midnight Sun and wait for people to buy us drinks,” Dufty said.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in next week’s paper.

— Cynthia Laird, May 25, 2017 @ 12:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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