Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), former Senator Christine Kehoe, colleagues, and the community are mourning the passing of Deanna Spehn, a beloved policy director who served both leaders.
Spehn had a state legislative career that spanned two decades, having worked with Senator Atkins for more than 10 years in both the Senate and Assembly, and for Christine Kehoe beginning in 2002 and throughout Kehoe’s tenure in the Legislature. She was a well-respected and knowledgeable advisor – prior to her time in state service, she worked for and advised policymakers at the City of San Diego for nearly a decade.
“Deanna was truly one of the most brilliant women I have ever worked alongside, and had a commitment to public service that was unparalleled. I could ask her a question about anything from an obscure transportation issue to climate change policy, and Deanna would not only know the answer, but the backstory that informed the answer and a solution for how to make it better for California,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “She was kind and honest, and tirelessly committed to her career. I adored Deanna, as did our team, and we are all devastated by her passing – we didn’t just lose a colleague, we lost a member of our family. My sincere condolences go to her husband Richard, her daughter Michaela, son-in-law, and grandchildren, and all those who loved her. Deanna was a wise, guiding light for us all.”
Added former state Senator Kehoe: “As a key aide to elected officials for decades, Deanna brought practical thinking to complicated and controversial issues; she was an outstanding listener and respectfully grasped multiple aspects of challenging debates. Her understanding of environmental policy and programing can be seen in open space protections, conservation plans and major infrastructure projects across our region.”