Cuomo hired Greuel in Washington as a top HUD administrator of grants to fight homelessness. A year later, she was visiting Los Angeles when the Northridge earthquake hit. With 18,000 housing units demolished, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros placed Greuel in charge of earthquake relief. Before long, she was put in charge of HUD's L.A. regional office.
In 1997, Andy Spahn, one of Clinton's top Hollywood fundraisers, hired Greuel at DreamWorks, where she handled the company's political affairs for co-founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Greuel helped the studio win local government approval to build its Glendale animation studio and a major complex in Playa Vista. The company chose not to build the Playa Vista project.
Greuel also went before the state Coastal Commission to get permission for Geffen to build a sea wall to protect his Malibu oceanfront estate from water damage. She also organized frequent campaign fundraisers for Clinton and other Democrats on behalf of the DreamWorks moguls.
"I probably would never have run for office if I hadn't had that experience of that political side," she said.
Greuel also probably would never have won. Entertainment-industry fundraising was crucial to her narrow victory in 2002 over rival Tony Cardenas in her first race for City Council. She won by 242 votes.