Governor Newsom Appoints Rita Saenz Director of the Employment Development Department 

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today appointed Rita L. Saenz Director of the Employment Development Department (EDD).

“With more than 40 years of experience in state government and the private sector, Rita Saenz is well-prepared to lead EDD at what is sure to be one of the most difficult moments in the Department’s history,” said Governor Newsom. “Nationally, we are seeing a record number of unemployment claims as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and with that, unprecedented abuse of unemployment systems and fraudulent claims. California has certainly not escaped this national crisis unscathed but with Rita at the helm, we stand ready to ensure payments to Californians who are in desperate need of financial support while simultaneously stopping fraud in our systems and holding people who have committed fraud accountable.”

“I am extremely grateful to Sharon Hilliard and congratulate her on her retirement after 37 years of service at EDD,” said Governor Newsom. “Sharon is a dedicated public servant and we owe her our gratitude for leading the Department through the pandemic.”

Rita L. Saenz, 71, of Sacramento, has been appointed Director of the Employment Development Department. Saenz was a Consultant at Saenz and Associates from 2016 to 2020. She held several positions at the Xerox Corporation from 2007 to 2016, including Director of California Governmental Affairs and Director of Communications. At Affiliated Computer Services she was Western Regional Director of Health and Human Services from 2007 to 2009. She was Chief Executive Officer at the Academy for Coaching Excellence from 2004 to 2007, Director at the California Department of Social Services from 1998 to 2004 and Chief Executive Officer at Maria Nemeth Associates LLC from 1983 to 1998. Saenz served in several positions in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 1981 to 1983, including Appointments Secretary and Special Assistant to Appointments. She was Director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse from 1978 to 1981. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $204,864. Saenz is a Democrat.