STELLAR TALENT: New Los Altos Community Development Director Settles In

The City of Los Altos is now home to new Community Development Director Jon Biggs, who assumed his duties at the end of March. Jon arrived in Los Altos with 25 years of experience, having most recently served as Community Development Director for the City of Pismo Beach. He brings a wide range of expertise including urban design, housing and historic preservation, along with experience in critical regional priorities such as water and traffic/transportation issues.

In Los Altos, Jon is responsible for the City’s planning and building divisions and oversees a team of 12. In addition to Pismo Beach, he has also served in the cities of Alameda and Pacific Grove. Jon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning from San Jose State University and holds several professional certificates, including the University of California Berkeley Certificate for Transportation Impacts and Land Development and the University of California Davis Certificate for Environmental Planning and Thresholds of Significance.

STELLAR TALENT: Bill Walker starts as Santa Monica’s New Fire Chief

Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole has announced the selection of Bill Walker as the City’s new Fire Chief. A longtime firefighter, Chief Walker has over two decades of experience in the fire service. He has served as a Fire Chief for the past 11 years, initially in the City of Fountain Valley and most recently for the City of Alhambra.

“We were searching for a dynamic leader for our fire department,” said Cole. “Chief Walker is that kind of leader, and our city will benefit from his track record of community collaboration and commitment to service excellence. I am confident that he will be a great contributor to building a citywide culture of data-drive, results-oriented innovation.”

“I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to join the Santa Monica Fire Department as Chief,” he said. “Santa Monica is a remarkable and progressive place and I look forward to working with the men and women of the department to continue the long-standing tradition of providing first-rate service to the community.”

Chief Walker will begin his new duties on May 2, commanding a department of five fire stations, 108 emergency personnel and 15 civilian staff. He is the 2016 President of the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association and the 2015-16 President of the Foothill Fire Chiefs Association. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Southern California.

STELLAR TALENT: April Showers bring new Fire Chief to Surf City USA®

On March 3, Huntington Beach City Manager Fred Wilson announced the appointment of David Segura as the City’s new Fire Chief. An extensive nationwide search led the City to select Chief Segura, whose ideal combination of experience and education made him ideal for the job and he just happens to be a longtime Huntington Beach resident.

Chief Segura has over 32 years of fire service experience, having spent the last 29 years with the City of Long Beach as a Firefighter, Paramedic, Captain, Battalion Chief, Assistant Chief, and Deputy Chief. He and his family have lived in Huntington Beach for the last 16 years and have strong ties to the community.

“I firmly believe David is well qualified for this position, and the men and women of the Fire Department will be well-served with him as the new Chief,” Wilson stated. “David brings with him a good mix of strategic planning, community engagement, and organizational development.”

Chief Segura’s strong leadership and organizational management style will be put to good use in his own community, where he assumed his new position on April 4th. He is leading an eight station department supported by 198 personnel and a budget of $45.6 million.

Chief Segura holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science from Long Beach City College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Studies from CSU Long Beach, and is now completing his MPA at the university.

“I am excited and honored to be joining the Huntington Beach Fire Department as its Chief,” said Chief Segura. “I am looking forward to meeting the men and women of the Department, getting to know the community, and improving upon what is already an established Department.”

STELLAR TALENT: Pleasanton Welcomes New Library Services Director

The City of Pleasanton will welcome Heidi Murphy as their new Director of Library Services in April following the retirement of Julie Farnsworth.

Heidi is a Pleasanton native and graduate of Amador Valley High School who returns home after serving most recently as Library Director in the City of Los Gatos. There she was instrumental in the planning and construction of a new 30,000-square-foot modern library, experience that will serve her well in Pleasanton. In addition to leading 25 employees and managing the Department’s $4 million budget, Heidi’s will also be a part of Pleasanton’s new Civic Center/Library Task Force, working to develop plans for new City complexes that serve both needs.

Pleasanton City Manager Nelson Fialho believes Heidi is just the person to do the job. “Heidi Murphy has distinguished herself as the most qualified person to take the helm and help our city explore options for building a new library,” he said. “I’m confident Heidi possesses the kind of innovation and progressive leadership style to sustain and improve existing services while also embarking on the design and construction of a new library for our community.”

Heidi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Library Science from San Jose State University.

STELLAR TALENT: Ventura’s New Director of Human Resources

After a competitive nationwide recruitment process, Ventura City Manager Mark Watkins announced the appointment of Elizabeth Foushee as the City’s new Director of Human Resources.

Elizabeth arrived in Ventura with over 30 years of human resource and personnel management experience. She has spent the last 20 years with the City of Simi Valley, most recently managing and directing the Human Resource function for the 600-employee organization, and has experience in human resource positions with the City of Thousand Oaks, the City of Ventura, and the Conejo Valley Unified School District. Elizabeth earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Cal Lutheran University and holds SHRM-SCP and IPMA-CP certificates.

“Elizabeth has a broad, diverse, and deep technical background in the profession,” said City Manager Mark Watkins. “She is interested in fostering teamwork, employee development, and providing excellent service to the community.”

Elizabeth assumes her new position in March and will oversee a staff of 11 and a department budget of $13.8 million.

STELLAR TALENT: City of Fremont prepares to welcome new Building Official


Following a nationwide search, the City of Fremont will be welcoming David Chung as the City’s new Building Official in November. Located in the Bay Area on the eastern edge of the Silicon Valley, Fremont is home to a population of over 226,000. David currently serves as the Building Official and Building Plan Check Engineer for the City of Gilroy.

In Fremont, he will oversee a staff of 26 in the Community Development Department with responsibility over the areas of plan check, building inspection, fire and life safety, as well as community preservation. As Building Official, he will play a key role in several exciting and transformative development projects currently underway in the city.

David’s Silicon Valley and Bay Area experience is extensive. Prior to his service in Gilroy, he held positions in the Cities of Palo Alto and Milpitas, as well as in the private sector. He earned both his graduate and undergraduate degrees in civil engineering from San Jose State University.

PLACEMENT NEWS: Matthew E. Hawkesworth to serve as Pasadena’s new Finance Director

After a nationwide search we are happy to announce the City of Pasadena’s appointment of Matthew E. Hawkesworth as their new Finance Director. He will begin his new role on October 5, 2015.

With over 20 years in local government service, 14 of those years fulfilling roles in the city manager’s office. Matt currently serves as the Assistant City Manager in the City of Rosemead, California. In his own words, he described his commitment to public service, “Throughout my career in local government, it has been my goal to serve the citizens of each community with a high level of service. This has been accomplished by not only offering excellent customer service, but through building a financially stable community.”

Indeed, Matt’s accomplishments are significant. He was instrumental in reducing Rosemead’s unfunded OPEB liabilities by approximately $3.5 million, developing the city’s first strategic plan and incorporating new financial and human resource systems that maximized efficiency and use of city resources.

Mr. Hawkesworth brings strong managerial and financial experiences to help restore public confidence in our financial operations,” City Manager Beck said. “His experience overseeing departments and personnel at various levels will add to our existing Executive Leadership Team.”

The recruitment was led by Teri Black who added, “Given the complexity of challenges associated with this job, Matt brings just the right leadership style, attitude, fiscal acumen and uncompromising integrity needed to be successful. It’s a rare situation that required a unique set of skills and Matt is just the right person. Plus, the fact that he loves Pasadena as much as we do brings added value because it really is a special community!”

Pasadena’s new Finance Director earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of La Verne. In addition, Matt has completed numerous advanced courses in finance and accounting through the Government Finance Officers Association and is a graduate of the Claremont McKenna College Kravis Leadership Institute’s Leadership Academy.

PLACEMENT NEWS: Mountain View Search Results in the Appointment of Fire Chief Juan F. Diaz


Earlier this month, the City of Mountain View concluded its nationwide search for a new Fire Chief with the promotion of Deputy Fire Chief Juan F. Diaz. Chief Diaz had been serving in the interim role since the retirement of Brad Wardle in May and his appointment to the top position became effective on September 13th.

With nearly 27 years of firefighting experience in almost every role and 26 of those years serving the San José Fire Department, Chief Diaz stood out as the ideal successor to Chief Wardle. He began his fire service career in the mid ‘80s following his immigration from Cuba as a refugee in 1980. “I’m living the dream, being able to go to school in America and getting into the fire service,” said Chief Diaz in a statement. “My dad always said the U.S. is what you put into it: You work hard and you’ll get ahead.”

“Playing a small role in helping Chief Diaz advance his career brought unique gratification to our team,” stated Teri Black, CEO of Teri Black & Company, LLC, the executive search firm specializing in local government placements.  “Juan has an incredible personal story that is so inspiring and his history contributes a rare richness and authenticity to his leadership style. He’s one of the strongest heart centered leaders I’ve ever interviewed.”

Chief Diaz earned his Bachelor’s degree Fire Science and Emergency Management from Kaplan University.

Placement News: City of Brisbane chooses Noreen Bickel as Recreation Manager

Noreen Bickel - Recreation Manager - City of Brisbane

Talented recreation professional Noreen Bickel was chosen from a substantial pool of candidates as City of Brisbane’s Recreation Manager this summer. “We are excited to have placed Noreen with the City of Brisbane,” Julie Yuan-Miu, Senior Recruiter at Teri Black & Company, LLC, an executive search firm specializing in local government placements, “she’s passionate about her work, brings fresh new approaches and has the necessary experience to excel in her new role.”

Prior to being named Brisbane’s new Recreation Manager, Noreen served as the City of Menlo Park’s Recreation Coordinator. Previous service in the City of Daly City as well as with the Burlingame Country Club helped her prepare for her recent advancement.

“The ‘City of Stars’ may be small, but it does not lack in vibrancy or sense of community, which mean a great deal to me. I am thrilled by the opportunity to serve in this this position,” said Noreen in a written statement.

Brisbane’s new Recreation Manager holds an MBA from Notre Dame De Namur University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Recreation & Leisure Services from San Francisco State University.


8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of successful leaders and interviewed thousands of executives for leadership positions in government. The people who resonate with me and my clients most are those who are both successful and happy. These people figured out how to be the most effective at the helm of their careers and in managing their personal lives. What do they all have in common?

Here are the eight common traits I have consistently observed in this group of people:

  1. Always stepping out of their comfort zone. As a means to constantly develop more confidence, they are constantly learning new things and taking on new challenges. Their desire to push their own boundaries inspires others around them to do the same.

2. Work super smart (and hard). Emphasis on “smart” meaning their time is thoughtfully invested in the things that they absolutely have to be doing and no one else can do. These are often considered the highest level income generating activities in the business world and high level policy and strategic work in the public sector. Working smart often entails structure which keeps them focused and disciplined about the highest and best use of their time.

3. Learning never stops. An intense hunger for knowledge and information excites them, fuels their passion and humbles them because they can never know enough. They are fascinated by what they don’t know.

4. Constant quest for improvement.  The ongoing pursuit of making something or someone better, stronger or more efficient energizes the mind and satisfies the heart. This applies to their personal life as much as it does their business.

5. They are present and get the most out of each moment. I’ve noticed that those who are more present also tend to be mindful and grateful. This mindset actually also helps them to be great visionaries. They respect and learn from the past rather than get hung up on it.

6. Recognize the importance of compound decision making. Success in anything is manifested from a series of smaller decisions. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed or actions that don’t advance personal and/or organizational goals, they remember that it’s the little decisions that cumulatively lead to major achievements and help to keep the spark in their momentum.

7. Practice good self-care. What we entrepreneurs are often bad at and it’s the one area that could likely help us (and those around us!) the most. It turns out that this special population insists upon making room in their schedule to care for themselves and view this as a non-negotiable priority if they are to achieve and sustain peak performance. Beyond basic exercise, many of them also make room for meditation and/or designated time and space to think, create and innovate.

8. Integration of professional and personal life. In this 24/7 all-access tech oriented culture we have become accustomed to, they accept that that their professional life will sometimes bleed into their personal space and they are okay with it. Releasing the expectation of always having bright lines between personal and professional reduces the stress and helps manage the expectations of those around them. By structuring a healthy level of integration between the two in ways that work for them, having a bit of “grey area” in their boundaries actually reduces stress and allows them to participate deeper in all areas.

Permission to reprint granted so long as article is published in its entirety and author is credited with the following:

Teri Black, President/CEO of Teri Black & Company, LLC, aLos Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.

Teri Black is a lifelong student of high performance and success and is President/CEO of a Los Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.  Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities across the western United States.

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