BREAKING NEWS: City Hires New Chief Innovation Officer

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City-Hall-Slide(Posted without Commentary from City Release)

Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil is pleased to announce the appointment of Diane Parro as the City’s Chief Innovation Officer effective July 1, 2015.  Diane replaces  Rob White, whose contract ends June 30.

Diane will leave her current position as Deputy to Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, which she has held for the past 4 ½ years.  Prior to that, Diane served as Executive Director of the Yolo County Visitors Bureau based in downtown Davis.  Before moving to Davis with her family in 2002, Diane was the Senior Vice President of Account Services for Palisades Media Group, a Santa Monica advertising agency.  Her clients over the years included Sears, Target, Caesars Place, Universal Pictures & Theme Parks and Miramax Films.  In her free time, Diane serves on the Boards of the Davis Arts Center, Davis Farmer’s Market and the Davis Food Co-op.

Diane graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA.

“I am thrilled Diane will be joining our City of Davis team.  I had the privilege of working with Diane in Yolo County and her unique skill set and familiarity with Davis will certainly add value to Davis’ economic development efforts.” said Brazil.

Parro will be responsible for managing the City’s diverse economic development portfolio and will serve as a key resource in efforts to promote the Arts, partner with UC Davis, strengthen downtown Davis and work with all interested parties in the possible development of an Innovation Center.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve my community and look forward to working collaboratively with the Davis leadership, skilled staff and engaged community” states Parro.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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34 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: City Hires New Chief Innovation Officer”

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        The Porcine Pinnacle doesn’t like the new boss to deviate too far from the path trod by the old boss. If a minion gets out of line, it’s important to cut said minion loose and bring in a more compliant minion to trod on. Oink!

  1. jrberg

    Welcome, Diane!  I have worked with Diane on a couple of previous events, and her marketing skills are great.  Which is exactly what the City needs in this area, since success will absolutely require excellent marketing and communications skills.  Another excellent recent City hire is Jennifer Donofrio, the new bike/ped coordinator, who also recognizes the value of marketing to promote Davis values. Tonight’s Enterprise has a nice writeup on Jennifer.

    I look forward to working with both.

     

    1. Alan Miller

      Jennifer Donofrio, the new bike/ped coordinator, who also recognizes the value of marketing to promote Davis values

      I hope she also recognizes that developing (placing buildings upon and thus severing) a long and linear transportation corridor is not a “Davis value”.

      What, by the way, does it mean that she “recognizes the value of marketing” to “promote Davis values”.  Isn’t the job to improve and connect a safe and functional pedestrian and bicycle system?

      1. Alan Miller

        What, by the way, does it mean that she “recognizes the value of marketing” to “promote Davis values”.  Isn’t the job to improve and connect a safe and functional pedestrian and bicycle system?

        OK, I take back the above question.  I read the Enterprise article, and I see she has a degree in marketing and another in transportation planning.  As far as advocacy, she used her marketing skills to sell and idea of adding bicycles to a pedestrian mall.  That’s the kind of make-it-happen project idea that could make me a supporter.

  2. ryankelly

    I have no complaints about Diane Parro, but my first reaction was, “Huh?”  It sounds like the job position has changed to more of a political one, rather than a planning focus, which can be tedious for lay people.  Maybe Diane is a perfect fit for that and this will leave staff planners to focus on the nuts and bolts of economic planning.  There must be a strategy here.  I have to believe that.

    1. Frankly

      That is my impression too.  An position as economic development leader but lacking economic development experience but with a great political CV.  I will give her some benefit of the doubt, but probably a pretty short Frankly-the-critic leash.

      The biggest problem I have having is all the mounting evidence that the CC is paying lip service to the need for economic development while doing what they can to softly undermine it.   I would have hoped that the city might go the other way and hire a true economic development talent to do this job.  What about Barbara Hayes from SACTO or Meg Arnold from SARTA?  Or, someone similar.   This seems like a Fordlandia move.

      1. Davis Progressive

        there were a lot of good options for the city if they had to get rid of rob white, which i don’t get for a minute.  i think this is lipservice now and an attempt to assuage the downtown and saylor contingency that believes in nishi-uber allis.`

        1. Frankly

          I’m not sure.  I think he was hoping that there would be a long-term place for him in a city that finaly embraced the need for strong economic development leadership

          But there are plenty of cities that do need and want talent like his, so I assume he will do fine landing another gig.

          I was just thinking that we do not have a strong enough firewall between politicians and the employees of government.  I certainly saw this from the perspective of unions and compensation, but not so much through the lense of political agenda.

          In keeping with the Davis direct democracy approach, I wonder if there are any models out there for citizen commissions to be vested with responsibility for hiring certain city employees?  For example, I think the city should have an internal auditor and that person should report to a citizen commission… maybe the B&F Commission.  Also, I think the HR director should maybe report to a citizen commission that is tasked with employee relations.

          My company auditor is recommended and retained by me but approved by my audit committee and reports to my audit committee (sub committee of my board).  Otherwise it is fox guarding the henhouse.

    2. Anon

      I think your assessment that this might be a more political move is probably accurate.  A Chief Innovation Officer is going to have to deal with the political difficulties of an electorate that has some individuals who have a “no holds barred” approach to expressing their opinions.  I, personally, will miss Rob White – he was absolutely outstanding.  But I will foursquare support whoever the city has decided should fill that position.

  3. Barack Palin

    Diane will leave her current position as Deputy to Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor

    Mr. Brazil’s professional experience included positions as: District Director for then-State Assemblymember Lois Wolk

    I hope we’re hiring the best candidates for the job, not because of their political affiliations.

  4. Anon

    Frankly: “The biggest problem I have having is all the mounting evidence that the CC is paying lip service to the need for economic development while doing what they can to softly undermine it.

    Even if it is true the City Council is paying lip service to the need for economic development (which I do not believe for a minute, based on what I have learned), then it is incumbent for citizens to speak up loudly and often that they want well-planned innovation parks that will generate substantial tax revenue for the city.  In essence the voices of a vocal minority need to be drowned out by the thus far silent majority.  Don’t be silent.  Show up at the forums being held and speak your mind.  Come to City Council meetings and support innovation parks.  Email your City Council members that you favor well-planned innovation parks. The City Council needs to get a clear and strong message that the vast majority of the electorate wants to put the city on sustainable economic footing with good planning and a focus on well planned innovation parks.

      1. Matt Williams

        Am I hearing you right DP? Are you saying you want the City to be run like a Professional Organization rather than as a Political Organization?

    1. Alan Miller

      In essence the voices of a vocal minority need to be drowned out by the thus far silent majority.

      Good luck with that.

      And, by the way, how do you know “they” are a “majority” if they are “silent”.

      Kinda defies logic.

      Don’t be silent.

      Don’t be anonymous.

  5. Jim Frame

    I understand that some people fear change, and this causes them to see nefarious motives and/or predict doom-and-gloom when confronted with change they do not control.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      And then, of course, are those cases where change is caused by those with nefarious motives, whose greed and power-mongering ultimately leads to much gloom and occasional doom. Oink!

  6. Davis Progressive

    from john meyer’s report:

    “The current investment in economic development activities may not yet be sufficient to meet defined Council objectives. The Council’s goals are reliant on successful economic development efforts that will result in diversifying the local economy, capturing emerging research-based businesses and improving the tax base. In support of economic development activities, a previous Council created a Chief Innovation Officer position. Not only was the title of the position unique, but originally, partial funding support for the position was to be provided by the business community.”

    “The interview process revealed some concerns about the salary level of this position and what its actual output has been. While this leads some to question this expenditure, I believe the City should ‘double-down’ on its investment in economic development activities.”

    “The City is developing a reputation of supporting business development. A number of major businesses have chosen to locate in Davis. Should the City now dim its focus and investment in economic development, that action will be broadcast throughout the region by your competitors.”

    “While our regional leaders are all polite and publically supportive of one another, any move by Davis to reduce investment in economic development activities will be branded as a lack of support and will be whispered by surrounding communities to businesses under recruitment. Davis has assets that other communities envy, but only Davis can tell this story—do not expect others to do this on your behalf.”

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      Solano County offers the benefit of being able to easily recruit from UC Davis without the disadvantages of actually doing business in Yolo County, or even worse, inside the city limits of Davis. Oink!

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    Wow. Rob White made $240,000 samolians a year …  a windfall for most anybody except maybe a doctor or dentist. That’s a lot of tamales.

    White could claim a key role in the rebirth of Livermore, though a lot of that rested on the lab and growth of the Bay Area / South Bay. He had the benefit of great timing. Outside of their downtown evicting a few porno shops and adding al fresco dining downtown, it would be interesting to know what companies he helped bring to Livermore.

    This article in the DE claimed he would be able to produce results in Davis in short order. Do we have a list of his successes the past 3 years?

    http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/city/former-livermore-director-of-economic-development-joins-city-staff/

    Parro must be in for some kind of raise. Transparent California says she made $95,200 last year, plus benefits, for a total package of $108,531. Given tight fiscal times and her lack of economic development experience, why can’t we pay her $125,000 per year? No reason to overpay a beginner.

    1. Biddlin

      “why can’t we pay her $125,000 per year?”

      Especially since it’s  just a sham job, just for show.

      BTW, here is why The City of Davis has trouble attracting real talent; Look at how they’re treated.

      ;>)/

  8. Mike Hart

    Rob White has been doing a first-rate job and I have been impressed by the professionalism he has brought to a very difficult task.  I don’t understand the reasons for the change, but know that Rob will leave some very big shoes to fill…

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