Chief of Staff to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
Year Graduated: 2013
Undergraduate: University of California, Santa Barbara
Major: History and Political Science
Daniel Conway, '13, is adept at putting out situational fires. As an evening student at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, Conway juggled course work with a full-time job and his growing family.
His ability to balance immediate needs with long-term priorities came in handy when he started his current job while still attending McGeorge. His last two weeks of school, which were final exams, were his first two weeks as chief of staff for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Conway uses his nine years of experience working in public policy, lobbying and politics, and a concentration in business law he earned at McGeorge, to serve a city of nearly half a million people. As chief of staff, he manages a multitude of issues and projects, including mapping out the city's budget, negotiating labor contracts, fixing levees, maintaining parks and building a downtown arena for the Sacramento King's NBA team, which he says could "fundamentally change this city."
He has worked in politics, public affairs and public policy since starting his career because "you get to do things that really do make a difference," he says. Conway's first job in politics was a three-month stint in 2004 as a campaign coordinator for now-Assemblyman Roger Dickinson in an earlier run for Assembly. He then joined Kaufman Campaign Consultants where he worked on a number of statewide, legislative and local campaigns.
In 2007, he became a lobbyist and public relations consultant for KP Public Affairs in Sacramento. Conway, who had always wanted to be a lawyer since childhood but put it off after starting a career and a family, applied to law school at the behest of a client and a partner at his firm, who were both lawyers. Once he was accepted, "My wife was the one who convinced me that I could do it and that our family could make it work."
He entered McGeorge as the father of two while working for KP Public Affairs and then moved to the California Restaurant Association, working as its legislative and public affairs director, and serving as the organization's media spokesman. There, he worked on a variety of issues, including food trucks, food stamps and industry trends. At the CRA, his third child was born.
He intended to practice law when he started McGeorge, but changed his mind, although he keeps the option open. "In law school, there is an expectation that the next step for all students is to practice. As I progressed through school, I gained a greater appreciation for the work I do now and the opportunities it presents," he says. He took the job with the mayor's office, in part, because it was a chance to advocate for his community. And it was an opportunity to work for a mayor with a strong drive and determination, he says, to make a difference here.
"When you're lobbying, some of your biggest wins are things you've kept from happening," he says. "An opportunity like this, when it's the city you live in, the city you're raising your family in and it's the city at such a defining moment in its history ... it was perfect. It was like the stars aligned at that moment."