36, MARRIED, BACK BAY
DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND CABINET AFFAIRS
Cook may be the most important person in state government you've never heard of. She coordinates across all the executive departments, getting cabinet secretaries, staff, legislators, and outside-the-building stakeholders to actually get things done for the governor.
Born in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, raised by "lovely hippie parents," and having passed through Boston Mayor Tom Menino's office of corporate counsel, Cook has worked for Patrick since he took office in 2007.
"Don't be fooled by her sweet, Southern sensibilities," warns one panelist. "She takes no prisoners in cabinet meetings."
Job title: Director of policy & cabinet affairs in the office of Governor Deval Patrick
Held since: January 2011
Marital/relationship status; children; pets: I am married to Tom Donohue. We have a sweet rescue kitten, Cupcake.
Home: On the border of Fenway and the Back Bay
Originally from: I was born and raised in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
What you do: My job is to help ensure the governor's second-term policy priorities are met. I work closely with the governor, cabinet secretaries, and staff across the administration to this end.
No two days are the same for me, but they all start with the early-morning briefing call with the governor, and most are filled with meetings and conference calls with administration colleagues, legislative partners, and stakeholders of all sorts. And hopefully some time at my desk to catch up.
Other jobs: Before graduating college I worked all kinds of interesting jobs, from a Subway sandwich artist to the front desk at a Hilton. Since law school I have served as assistant corporation counsel to the City of Boston, deputy legal counsel to Governor Patrick, and general counsel to the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Other activities: I'm currently the president of the Women's Bar Foundation, which connects poor women and families to legal services. I also serve on the Disability Law Center board, and I'm a longtime member of Boston's Ward 5 Democratic Committee. At least once a month Tom and I volunteer at the Women's Lunch Place, a special day shelter for homeless women in the city. Awards include Greater Boston Chamber's Ten Outstanding Young Leaders in 2012, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Up & Coming Lawyers 2008.
Path to Beacon Hill: The short answer: I was presented with the irresistible opportunity to serve on Governor Patrick's legal team, starting on the day he took office back in January 2007. The long answer: my lovely hippie parents encouraged their children to care about the world around them and work to make it better. With my folks' influence, since I can remember, I have wanted to work in the arena of law, policy, and politics.
Personal style: I don't have any style! Years ago a girlfriend of mine asked my now-husband if he would "talk to me about my shoes" — they were so scuffed and disgusting, it was embarrassing to my friends.
I like to pretend I wear bad shoes because I want to save my feet for running, but honestly it is just too much work.
Favorite thing about working in the State House? Working for Governor Patrick. I am continually inspired by the governor's compassion, creativity and intelligence.