Wunderkinds 2013: Katherine Delgado, 28
Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Westchester County Executive
On the day we spoke to Katherine Delgado, deputy chief of staff for Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, she had just come from helping to organize a 400-person symposium in which school-district representatives, law-enforcement officers, and political officers met to discuss how to make their communities safer. That evening, she was running a forum for local officials to address any concerns they had with the County Executive. And during the day, she was briefing Astorino in Spanish (something she does daily to help keep him up on the language), and checking on projects ranging from rehabilitating bridges and parks to improving constituency outreach.
“It’s kind of hard whenever I describe to my friends what I do,” says the 28-year-old Peekskill resident. “It’s a range of things; I’m constantly wearing different hats.”
Delgado has always had her eyes set on government. As a student at SUNY Cortland, she majored in Political Science and completed a prestigious internship at Attorney General Linda Singer’s office, mainly working in the Juvenile Section alongside Assistant Attorney General Andrew Zirpoli. Having been persuaded by her parents, who wanted her to live close to home in Westchester, she applied for an internship at the County Legislature after graduating. That quickly turned into a three-year job stint as a legislative aide for the Republican caucus in the County Legislature. In her “free time,” she also campaigned for Astorino, a gig that landed her in her current position when he officially took office in 2010.
“In the political industry, any newcomer faces challenges—especially if you are young,” she says. But Delgado overcame those challenges with hard work and by offering a different perspective. After a year working for County Executive Astorino, “he invited his staff to submit an analysis of what could be done to improve communications, work flow, and results.” One issue that grabbed Delgado’s attention, she says, “was the lack of awareness by young people of what Westchester County government does. My suggestion was to develop ways to reach out to these constituencies, because we are the future. As a result we have been hosting these Ask Astorino Town Halls, and they have been a huge success.”
Delgado, who says she never imagined she’d be in her current position at such a young age, likes “being behind the scenes.” Her dream job? “To work in the executive office.”