Menlo Park announces three leadership appointments | News | Almanac Online |


Menlo Park announces three leadership appointments

City fills public works, community development, public engagement positions

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.

Clay Curtin. Photo courtesy city of Menlo Park

Nikki Nagaya. Photo courtesy of city of Menlo Park

Deanna Chow. Photo courtesy of city of Menlo Park
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.

Deanna Chow

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.

Nikki Nagaya

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.

Clay Curtin

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.


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2 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2019 at 10:02 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

It's time for Council to revise the municipal code so that management-level appointments are "subject to Council approval." The Staff Executive branch has too much power when compared with Council's limited power. For better balance, Council needs to take measures so they can manage for results in a climate of transparency.

Step one would be getting more information about the current staff organization, and then adding mechanisms that will allow Council to make needed changes, including managing for results.

Like this comment
Posted by Observation
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Nikki Nagaya will be a great addition to senior management and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear.

Like this comment
Posted by council approval
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Lynne, council approval sounds like a good idea. Ohtaki and Keith previously pushed for Menlo Park to become a charter city to allow for similar changes, but there was no community support and the ballot initiative was dropped. If you decide to run for city council, please make this part of your platform.

Like this comment
Posted by Downtown
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm

"Keith and Ohtaki pushed for Menlo Park to become a charter city but there was no community support."

Sounds about right. Wouldn't have been the first time that happened.

Like this comment
Posted by Downtown
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 8, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Lynne, make sure you copy Ohtaki and Keith when you run for City Council. It worked out well for them.

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