Governor Ducey deputy chief of staff hired as new executive director for leading free enterprise research institute

After six years serving Arizona in Governor Doug Ducey’s administration, Katie Ratlief has become one of the state’s most prominent leaders in public policy and economic development. 

Katie will leave her current role as deputy chief of staff to become executive director at the Common Sense Institute (CSI), a non-partisan research organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of Arizona’s economy, in January 2023. 

As CSI’s new executive director, Katie seeks to be a champion for fact based fiscal policy research and to educate and inform Arizonans on the key issues impacting their lives, from housing affordability, to crime, to inflation, and much more. 

“Katie’s unmatched policy expertise and leadership have been vital to my office’s work to serve Arizonans and secure our state’s future,” Gov. Ducey said in a press release by CSI. “Katie’s strong commitment to public service combined with her deep knowledge of complex policy issues have made her one of our state’s greatest leaders. I congratulate Katie on her new role and look forward to seeing all the great work she does for Arizona.”

For leaders like Katie, who have dedicated their lives to public service, transitioning into this role is seamless. 

Katie shared her views on the state’s future and how committed nonpartisan research organizations like CSI can serve as the key to thriving communities. 

Q. What brought you to Common Sense Institute? 

Public policy has always been my passion, especially policies that expand individual opportunity and promote economic growth. The fact that the Common Sense Institute is a non-partisan organization that is dedicated to researching, promoting, and encouraging conversation around these issues, I immediately wanted to be involved. CSI has also assembled an amazing team and board of directors. 

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

I hope to continue to grow the organization’s presence and contribution to the critical policy issues facing our state. It’s more important than ever to have groups like CSI who can be a reliable resource for fact-based information without the political spin about policies that impact our lives and communities, and I’m looking forward to providing exactly that. 

Q. What are the most important policy issues in Arizona? 

Our state has seen unprecedented economic growth and resilience over the last several years. We were hit harder than any other state during the great recession and the state budget had a billion-dollar deficit. Today, our economy is more diverse and resilient, and this year the state budget had a $5 billion surplus. The most important policy issues are those that will ensure this trajectory continues: water, housing, taxes, regulations, infrastructure, public safety, and access to high quality education. 

Q. What do you think CSI can bring to public policy discussions? What do you see the nonprofit contributing during the next legislative session? 

At its heart, the free enterprise system is one in which people are free to make choices about what’s best for their own circumstances and needs. Individuals are free to work in roles that play to their strengths, businesses can compete to provide goods and services that cater to their customers, and markets are able to bring people together to transact. Those countless decisions and interactions, when taken collectively, make up the free enterprise system, which has proven to be the greatest economic engine in history and has lifted billions of people out of poverty. 

What’s missing in the public policy conversation today is a credible honest broker, who doesn’t have any skin in the game and can provide citizens and policymakers with the facts on issues before they are voted on or enacted. How will this policy impact our economy? How many jobs will it create? How will it provide my family and me with opportunity? Those are the facts CSI answers. 

Q. You’ve become one of Arizona’s most foremost leaders on public policy and economic development. What did you learn in the Governor’s Office that you hope to bring to CSI? 

I’ve had the great benefit of learning from Governor Ducey about how to lead, how to develop and communicate a vision, and create a culture to achieve that vision. The governor is a visionary leader with a servant’s heart, and he’s also a really great boss. He’s passionate about developing his team and energized by young people and new ideas. I hope to bring that ethos with me to CSI. 

Q. How can we improve political discourse on key, complex policy issues? 

By arming the public with straightforward, factual information that breaks these issues down to what it means for individuals and families.   

Q. As a top official in Governor Ducey’s administration, you led the governor’s policy agenda for six years. What policy are you most proud of? 

I’m most proud that we left the state better than we found it and improved opportunities for Arizonans to lead the lives they’ve imagined for themselves and their families. When the administration started, the state budget was facing a $1 billion deficit, the economy was slow to recover from the great recession, our relationship with our largest trading partner (Mexico) was frayed, and the K-12 system was entangled in lawsuits. This year, we had a $5 billion budget surplus while delivering the lowest single-rate income tax system in the country. That was possible because of a rapidly growing population and a strengthened, diversified economy. Repairing the relationship with Mexico and resolving the K-12 funding lawsuits meant the state could invest even more in roads, teachers, and public safety. We also made it easier to move to Arizona to work, by eliminating licensing barriers with the first-in-the-nation universal license recognition. Americans vote with their feet, and when we focused on increasing economic opportunity and freedom in Arizona, we saw tangible results in our growing population and booming economy. 

Q. You are well-respected by officials on both sides of the aisle. Can you explain the importance of bipartisanship? And can you give us an example of a substantial policy initiative that stemmed from bipartisan efforts?       

Our state’s biggest issues can’t be solved by one person or one party. It is going to take us all coming together and bridging the divide. I’m proud of my track record of bipartisan policies. In this day and age, it is even more important given the divisive nature of politics. That was certainly the case for the Opioid Epidemic act, the Drought Contingency plan, the state’s modernized tribal gaming compact, the $1 billion investment in our water resiliency, and the 2022 state budget, to name a few. I expect that will continue to be the case on issues like water, housing, access to a quality education, and continued economic growth. 

Q. You’ve held numerous leadership roles throughout your career, how would you describe your personal leadership style?       

I’ve had the benefit of learning not just from Gov. Ducey, but also from leaders in and around government like Lisa Graham Keegan, Justice Kate King, Glenn Hamer, and Daniel Ruiz. They all know how to lead with integrity, empower a team, and communicate a vision. All of them have influenced my leadership style. 

Q. Where is your favorite place to visit in Arizona, for fun? 

Just one?! I need at least two: the White Mountains in the north and Tubac in the south. 

To read more about Katie Ratlief and her new role at the Common Sense Institute, read the group’s press release here: Katie Ratlief Tapped as Common Sense Institute Arizona’s new Executive Director

Michael Kittilson

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