September 7, 2018 10:30 AM
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – City Manager Rick Cole has selected Lori Gentles as the Chief People Officer – Human Resources for the City of Santa Monica. Gentles comes to Santa Monica with over 20 years of experience in strategic organizational transformation and employee empowerment.
“In many ways this is the most crucial job a City Manager must fill – 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,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “When we began this search, we were looking for a strategic leader who will build on our strong merit system and positive labor relations -- and take a forward-looking and collaborative approach to managing talent in the public sector. Community members expect their government to work better and cost less. Lori’s track record as a human resources leader and change agent in higher education and local government is just what we were seeking. We’re fortunate to have recruited her from doing great work in Santa Barbara County to join our team to build a model of 21st Century government here in Santa Monica.”
Since 2016, she has been the Human Resources Director for the County of Santa Barbara. There, she delivered comprehensive HR services to 23 county departments. Her focus included transformation initiatives, using workforce analytics and best practices to engage, acquire and retain the next generation of government leaders. Prior to her time in Santa Barbara, Gentles served the California State University System as Vice President of HR, Diversity and Inclusion for Cal State Fullerton. She was also the Associate Vice President of HR, Safety and Risk Management for San Francisco State University. Gentles was also the HR Director for Contra Costa County, Deputy Personnel Director for the City of Phoenix and HR Administrator for the City of Mesa.
In her new role as Santa Monica’s Chief People Officer, Gentles will engage the City’s diverse workforce and help shape an energized team equipped to deliver 21st Century government services. With a collaborative and imaginative approach, Gentles will serve a catalytic role in promoting a culture that delivers the highest level of customer service and job performance. Through a lens of equity, inclusion and ethical leadership, she will guide the HR Department to serve the City’s 14 departments, negotiate and administer agreements with the City’s various labor associations and serve as Secretary to the City’s Personnel Board.
“I am honored to be selected as the City’s Chief People Officer,” said Gentles. “It is truly an opportunity to work alongside my colleagues to create a model of 21st Century government in a thriving community. The people of any organization are the key ingredient to success. I look forward to working with my team to empower employees to operate at their highest level and to raise the bar for talent management and organizational development. Working with my team, I intend to have a positive, visible and lasting impact on customer experience and community satisfaction.”
Gentles will oversee 27 full-time employees with an operating budget of $4.9 million. The Human Resources Department has four division including Administration, Organizational Development & Employee Benefits, Labor & Employee Relations and Employee Classification. The Human Resources Department plays a key role in ensuring the City of Santa Monica delivers a robust level of services to the community it serves. Activities include effective recruitment, management of job classifications, compensation/benefits, performance evaluations, training, labor relations and administration of Federal and State employment laws.
Gentles serves on the board of directors for the Consortium for International Management Policy & Development and County Personnel Administrator Association of California. She has also served on the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence; California Public Employer Labor Relations Association; National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and National Black MBA Association Executive Committee. Gentles earned her MBA in International Business from Saint Mary’s College of California. She received her BA in Interpersonal Communications from Arizona State University.
Lori Gentles will join the Santa Monica team on December 28, 2018 with an annual salary of $216,264. Donna Peter, who has served as Santa Monica’s HR Director for 10 years will retire on September 21, 2018 and Rick Cole has appointed Christina Winting, Santa Monica’s Human Resources Manager, to serve as Interim HR Director until Gentles assumes her post.
Public Information Officer