The city of Menlo Park has named two people as interim directors and a third to fill a new position, according to an Aug. 1 announcement from City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson.
The city named Deanna Chow as interim community development director. This follows a July 26 announcement that Mark Muenzer, Menlo Park's community development director, would leave his position to become Redwood City's community development and transportation director. Muenzer's last day with Menlo Park will be Friday, Aug. 9.
Nikki Nagaya has also been named interim public works director.
Deputy City Manager Justin Murphy will manage both the public works and community development departments as part of the transition.
The city also said Clay Curtin will fill the newly created public engagement manager role.
The appointments are effective Monday, Aug. 5.
As interim community development director, Chow will oversee short- and long-range planning, land-use entitlements, building inspections and permitting, along with housing and economic development programs.
“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 in the city announcement.
Chow has almost 20 years of experience in community development and planning. She previously 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 at Berkeley and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Nagaya will 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, Jerome-Robinson said.
She replaces Murphy, who was promoted to deputy city manager in April.
Nagaya most recently served as assistant public works director. She joined the city as senior transportation engineer in 2013, before she was promoted to transportation manager and the public works roles.
She has over 12 years of experience in transportation planning and engineering and is a licensed engineer in California. Her work has involved managing a wide range of transportation projects in San Francisco, the South Bay and Peninsula, with a focus on retrofitting infrastructure to better accommodate walking and biking, according to the city announcement.
Nagaya holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Bucknell University.
“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,” Jerome-Robinson said.
Curtin’s new role as public engagement manager replaced and repurposed an existing vacant position, according to the city announcement.
Curtin will focus on implementing a comprehensive pilot program for community engagement work, developed by the Institute for Local Government. In June, the City Council approved the "TIERS" (an acronym for think, initiate, engage, review, shift) program, which lays out a standard approach for how to involve the community in local government.
Curtin, who has over 16 years of municipal government experience, joined the Menlo Park staff in 2013 as the assistant to the city manager. He has fulfilled several assignments throughout the organization, including interim finance director, interim sustainability manager, interim city clerk and interim housing and economic development manager.
Jerome-Robinson said Curtis has developed an excellent rapport with members of the community, city commissions and community groups.
He holds 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.