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Santa Monica Hires "Chief People Officer" in Charge of Human Resources


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September 7, 2018 -- Santa Monica has hired a "Chief People Officer" who will assume the post of Human Resources director and work to engage and energize the City's workforce, City officials announced Friday.

Lori Gentles -- who will assume the $216,264-a-year post on December 28 -- will replace HR director Donna Peter who will retire September 21 after ten years on the job. Christina Winting will serve on an interim basis.

Lori Gentles In the new post, Gentles will overseeing the HR department's 27 full-time employees and $4.9 million budget, negotiate and administer agreements with the City’s various labor associations and serve as Secretary to the City’s Personnel Board.

She also will "serve a catalytic role in promoting a culture that delivers the highest level of customer service and job performance," the City said in a statement.

“In many ways this is the most crucial job a City Manager must fill," said City Manager Rick Cole, "the person who leads on how we recruit, select, orient, train, manage and motivate the people of our workforce, the people responsible for delivering vital services 24/7 year round.

"Community members expect their government to work better and cost less," Cole said. "Lori’s track record as a human resources leader and change agent in higher education and local government is just what we were seeking."

Gentles -- who has been the County of Santa Barbara's HR director since 2016 -- previously served as vice president of HR, Diversity and Inclusion for Cal State Fullerton and associate vice president of HR, Safety and Risk Management for San Francisco State University.

In her current role in Santa Barbara County, Gentles has been using "workforce analytics and best practices to engage, acquire and retain the next generation of government leaders," City officials said.

In her role as Santa Monica’s Chief People Officer, Gentles will continue to oversee traditional HR tasks such as "recruitment, management of job classifications, compensation/benefits, performance evaluations, training, labor relations and administration of Federal and State employment laws," City officials said.

In addition, Gentles will "engage the City’s diverse workforce and help shape an energized team equipped to deliver 21st Century government services," the City said in a statement.

The new position is the latest in a restructuring of the City's government in an effort "to build a model of 21st Century government here in Santa Monica,” Cole said.

Under Cole, the City has hired top advisors in charge of safe streets, homelessness, policy issues and airport affairs, as well as a chief of staff for the City Attorneys office.


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