City Manager announces leadership plan for land use/development functions and public engagement

by Contributed Content on August 2, 2019

Menlo Park City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson announced several appointments to provide continuity and leadership, ensuring the organization’s ability to meet community needs and maintain progress on the City Council’s 2019-20 work plan goals.

Deanna Chow will assume the role of interim community development director overseeing short and long-range planning, land use entitlements, building inspections and permitting, as well as housing and economic development programs. She steps up to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Mark Muenzer, the city’s current community development director whose last day is August 9, 2019.

Chow has nearly 20 years of experience in community development and planning. Before coming to Menlo Park, she worked as a planner for the City of San Jose and in the City of Pittsburg’s economic development department. She has a bachelor’s degree in development studies from the University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California Los Angeles.

“Deanna’s background in local land use and development matters, as well as leading the previous housing element update and negotiating long-term planning policies, gives her the expertise to lead the department forward,” said Jerome-Robinson.

Nikki Nagaya will become interim public works director and manage staff responsible for building and maintaining the City’s infrastructure and facilities, and for providing street, sidewalk, water, stormwater, parks, trees and transportation services. She joined the Menlo Park staff as senior transportation engineer in 2013, before promoting to transportation manager and then assistant public works director.

She has over 12 years of experience in transportation planning and engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in California. Her work has involved managing a wide range of transportation projects in San Francisco, the South Bay Area and Peninsula with a focus on retrofitting infrastructure to better accommodate people walking and biking. Nagaya holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Bucknell University.

Jerome-Robinson stated: “Nikki has an even-keeled approach and keen ability to articulate policy questions and purposeful objectives among a wide range of initiatives, including transportation, infrastructure and public services.”

As part of this transition, both public works and community development departments will report to Deputy City Manager Justin Murphy, who is a Menlo Park resident and longtime employee who has served as the deputy city manager since April 2019.

“With Justin’s 23 years of experience in Menlo Park and background in planning, land use, development and public works, he is well-equipped to oversee these two functions as part of his expanded citywide role,” said Jerome-Robinson.

Clay Curtin will step into the newly-created public engagement manager role. This position replaced and repurposed an existing vacant position and focuses on implementing a comprehensive pilot program of the TIERS public engagement framework created by the Institute for Local Government, and adopted by the City Council in June 2019.

Curtin joined the Menlo Park staff in 2013 as the assistant to the city manager, and has fulfilled several assignments throughout the organization, including interim finance director, interim sustainability manager, interim city clerk and interim housing and economic development manager. He has over 16 years of municipal government experience, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washburn University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

“Clay has developed an excellent rapport with members of the community, our commissions and community groups over the last few years. I am confident he will continue his track record of exceptional service to the City of Menlo Park,” said Jerome-Robinson.

All appointments are effective Monday, August 5, 2019.

InMenlo file photo (c) 2019

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