Meet the AG's New Crew

Called a "political cloutmeister" by Crain's New York, Neal Kwatra brings some serious street cred with him to the Chief of Staff position. His role as political director at the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, Kwatra became a force in the city's business deals. Under his leadership, the Hotel Trades Council has come out winning on issues like the Aqueduct racino and development projects in Willets Point and Coney Island.

His involvement in Mayor Bloomberg's re-election campaign, numerous city council elections, and, most recently, the coordingated effort of the state Democratic Party ticket in last year's elections solidified Kwatra's political connections.


Harlan Levy takes the role of First Deputy Attorney General after playing a major role in the selection of his co-workers. Levy was singled out by Schneideman at the beginning of his tenure when the new Attorney General selected Levy to chair the 71-member transition team and staff the office. 

Prior to the transition team, Levy was one of the partners of Manhattan-based law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner.

Levy appears to have experience in a number of different legal fields through his membership of national and state boards including those of the Fund of Modern Courts and the Bar Association's Committee on Criminal Justice Standards.


Blake Zeff will be directing policy for the Attorney General as his senior advisor. A Democratic political operative, Zeff has worked on the campaigns of both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. He also worked in the Washington office of Sen. Chuck Schumer.

He comes to the Attorney General's office from consulting firm Berlin Rosen, where he has worked since March 2009. When his placement at BerlinRosen was announced in a staff-wide email, it said that in addition to his political prowess, Zeff is "also an all round good guy."


Kent T. Stauffer approaches his role as state counsel with a good deal of business-based legal experience. He was most recently the executive vice president of insurance firm Chartis, Inc. Before that he worked as the director of litigation for both JP Morgan Chase and its previous incarnation, Chase Manhattan.

Stauffer's public and governmental experience comes from his time spent as Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York. He is currently a director emiratus for the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, having previously served as a chair and director of the group during his 19 year membership.

His education is also varied, majoring in economics as an undergraduate at Amherst College, getting his law degree from Harvard, and then receiving his Masters in public policy from the Kennedy School at Harvard.



Martin J. Mack returns to the Attorney General's office after spending the last three years in the Governor's office. He will work as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs. Mack previously worked as deputy secretary for appointments for Gov. Patterson after working as deputy secretary for intergovernmental affairs for both Patterson and Gov. Spitzer. Mack worked for Spitzer for quite some time, both as governor and Attorney General.

Mack has an extensive history in Courtland County, having served as the county Attorney, Assistant District Attorney, and Mayor.

In the legal area, Mack has practiced law all while in office and was also a partner at a law firm for 18 years.


Underwood is staying on in her position as Solicitor General, a role that she has held since 2007. Before being appointed to the post by now Governor Andrew Cuomo, Underwood served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General before moving up to Acting Solicitor General.

She received her undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College and her law degree from Georgetown University. Her career has been spread between national cases and local issues, as she has tried 19 cases in front of the Supreme Court but also served in Queens and Brooklyn District Attorney's offices.

Though she and her family have lived in Brooklyn since 1982, she was born in Indiana and lived in New Jersey during her childhood.


Karla Sanchez's new role as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice comes after significant experience in the corporate sector. The Columbia and Fordham Law alum received some press attention- and was highlighted as one of Crain's New York's Top 40 Under 40- because of her role as the first Hispanic partner at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

"Attorneys have two fundamental responsibilities not found in many other professions: to use their trade to help those in need, and to practice ethically and fairly," she said to the magazine.

Sanchez also previously served as a law clerk to a judge for the Southern District of New York.



Taking on the role of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Nancy Hoppock has worked in the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey since 2001. Her highest previous post was Chief of the Criminal Division where she was in charge of all seven of the oversaw all seven of the U.S. Attorney's Office departments.

One of Hoppock's career highs took place this year when she was awarded the Department of Justice's Directors Award for her work prosecuting a human trafficking case in Newark.

Hoppock has New York experience from her time spent in the Manhattan District Attorney's office where she spent seven years as an Assistant District Attorney.


Janet Sabel comes into the Attorney General's office as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice, after having worked at the Legal Aid Society for the past 25 years. Sabel also worked as a staff attorney in both the Civil Division's Brooklyn Neighborhood Office and the Civil Appeals and Law Reform Unit.

She received state-wide recognition with the New York State Bar Association Public Interest Law Award in 1997 and the New York County Lawyers Public Service Award in 2002.


The communications department will be headed up by Fernando Aquino as press secretary. While Aquino worked as the press secretary for the Democratic conference in the State Senate, most of his career has been spent as a political journalist for Dominican newspapers. Much of his reporting was done in New York about City Hall politics. Aquino received an award for his outstanding coverage by the National Association for Hispanic Journalists.


Must Reads

We noticed you're using an ad blocker.

We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience.
But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.

We'd really appreciate it.

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist on your browser:

For Adblock:

Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain.

For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.

For Adblock Plus on Firefox:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Disable on

Then Reload the Page