Three Women of Color Join
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s Team
Added Leadership Value
|Deputy Mayor Leslie Orrantia (l-r), Deputy Mayor Linda Vakunta and
Executive Assistant Natasha Holmes bring their special skills and
knowledge to Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s leadership team.
“I studied business and my major was supply chain management,” Holmes said. “It’s an interesting specialization. It really focuses on logistics and
procurement. It kind of takes a deep dive into how things get to certain places. And I think my background in that actually shows up in a lot of different ways.
It almost lends itself to project management and overall organizational skills.”
After graduating from Howard, Holmes remained in Washington, D.C. to pick up some private sector experience.
“I spent most of my time in Washington, D.C. working in real estate at a boutique firm that focused on luxury and historic properties in the Washington, D.C.
area,” Holmes said. “That was incredibly fun. I learned so much while I was in that role. It was an awesome opportunity for me at the time.”
It also allowed her to hone her social media skills.
“I’ve used social media to grow my business, particularly in starting in real estate,” Holmes said. “Luckily I got to work with someone who focused on luxury
and historic properties, so I could show beautiful photos of interiors of homes. That’s how I got a lot of clients. That was my first professional dabbling in
social media. And I continued to use it throughout my career because I think it is such a valuable medium to capture people’s attention and tell beautiful
stories. I’ve also done it personally, just through hobbies and Facebook and Instagram.”
Holmes then came back to Madison to be near family and landed a job at UW Hospitals that served as the perfect platform to launch into the mayor’s office.
“I worked as an administrative assistant for the director of facilities,” Holmes said. “I was the one responsible for managing the calendar of the director of
facilities office. It’s a very large unit at UW Hospitals. It spans all of the hospitals and clinics throughout the entire region, which is quite a few locations. I
managed his calendar and helped manage the calendars of the other managers in that department. It was a very big task.”
As the executive assistant, Holmes handles the mayor’s calendar, making sure that it is in sync with what the mayor wants and needs to do in the fulfillment
of her priorities and objectives.
“In my current role as an executive assistant to the mayor, a lot of it focuses on scheduling and correspondence, making sure that the mayor is able to
connect in person, face-to-face, with the right people at the right time to make sure that she can accomplish her goals and support the overall mission of
what the city hopes to accomplish,” Holmes said. “My goal is to facilitate those meetings and make her life as simple as possible.”
Several weeks ago, the fires at the MG&E installations that caused a blackout for hours in Madison’s isthmus and east sides wreaked havoc on those sides
of town and on the mayor’s schedule as she deals with the crisis at hand. Holmes was on top of it.
“Sometimes emergencies come up and we have to be nimble,” Holmes said. “In the aftermath of the MG&E fire, I am in the process of bringing the mayor’s
schedule back to normality and reschedule appointments. It’s tricky and it gets complicated, especially with summer calendars and people being on vacation
and the mayor having conferences that she needs to attend. It’s my responsibility to make sure that things that need to be rescheduled get rescheduled in a
timely fashion and that we are nimble to do what is necessary when it needs to happen.”
While Mayor Rhodes-Conway is continuing the mayor’s blog started by her predecessors, she also plans to use social media on a different level during her
“Social media is something that I personally find interesting and have experience doing,” Holmes said. “It’s something that is fun. It’s a joy to be able to
share stories and share her experiences and bring in summation to people via social media who wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with the mayor or
have a medium where there would be stories where they can connect with the mayor. I’m excited to be able to start doing that moving forward. But it isn’t
something that has taken much of my time just yet. It would be sharing exciting events that she is taking part in and she wants to invite constituents and the
people of Madison to attend, keeping them updated when emergencies happen and communicating things that are relevant to people who want to know what
the mayor is doing.”
In Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s office is where Holmes wants to be.
“I’m just incredibly excited to be working for the mayor,” Holmes said. “And I am incredibly excited to be able to do the work that I am doing. I am so inspired
to do this work for my community, the city of Madison and loving the city I grew up in.”
The appointment of Linda Vakunta, Leslie Orrantia and Natasha Holmes not only brings value added leadership to the mayor’s office, but it also keeps city
government connected with its communities of color. That’s democracy in action.
By Jonathan Gramling
As Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway began to put her leadership team together last
April after winning the mayoral election, she was deliberate in selecting her top
aides so that not only would they have expertise in the content areas that they
would be responsible for in her administration, but would also bring the added
value of having connections to some of the most challenged communities in the
Madison area, ensuring strong connections as her administration moved forward.
As Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s selections for some of her key positions were
announced, three women of color emerged as successful candidates for those
positions: Deputy Mayor Dr. Linda Vakunta, Deputy Mayor Leslie Orrantia and
Executive Assistant Natasha Holmes.
Natasha Holmes, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s executive assistant, is a home-
grown talent. She went to Lincoln Elementary School, James C. Wright Middle
School and West High School before heading to Howard University to study