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Gov. Kim Reynolds announces chief of staff change

Ryan Koopmans leaving; will be replaced by Sara Craig Gongol

Ryan Koopmans (Photo from governor’s office)
Ryan Koopmans (Photo from governor’s office)

DES MOINES — The changes inside Gov. Kim Reynolds’ evolving administration continued Tuesday with the governor announcing she was naming Sara Craig Gongol to begin serving Saturday as her chief of staff, replacing the departing Ryan Koopmans.

“Sara is a key member of my team, working with me since 2014,” Reynolds said in a statement. “She played an important role in the campaign, helping me earn the support of Iowans who gave me the chance to continue serving as governor. As I begin my first full term, I am excited to bring together a new team to help implement my vision for building a stronger, better Iowa.”

The Reynolds administration has seen a series of key figures announce in recent days they’ll step down — Roxann Ryan as public safety commissioner, Jerry Bartruff as prison chief, Courtney Kay-Decker at the revenue agency.

“That’s not unusual when you have someone starting a new term. We’re going through a transition and that’s just part of the process,” Reynolds told reporters.

Koopmans, chief of staff to Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg since earlier this year, announced he will leave the office Friday to pursue opportunities outside state government.

“Ryan provided steadfast advice while serving as my trusted adviser. I want to thank Ryan for his service on behalf of the people of Iowa and wish him well as he shares his incredible talents, energy and work ethic with others in the private sector,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Koopmans joined the governor’s office as senior legal counsel and chief policy adviser in May 2017, at the beginning of Reynolds’ administration, and was promoted to chief of staff earlier this year — with instrumental roles in advancing the governor’s signature achievements, including a state income tax overhaul and the Future Ready Iowa workforce initiative.


Koopmans, who lives near Van Meter, thanked Reynolds for the opportunity to guide her operation. He was paid an annual salary of $138,330.

Craig Gongol of West Des Moines said it was an honor for her to lead the Reynolds’ administration, saying in a statement: “I am humbled to be selected for this important role. The governor’s strong leadership has put Iowa on the right path, and I am eager to help her continue to move Iowa forward.”

She served as general consultant to the Reynolds-Gregg campaign and currently is president and founder of Framework Marketing Group.

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