Palo Alto added a new position to its leadership team this week, tapping a former California State University executive to serve as the city's first "chief communications officer."
Claudia Keith, who had served as vice chancellor for public affairs for the CSU system before launching her own consultancy, started her new job on Tuesday, the city announced. The new position comes with an annual salary of $175,000.
In announcing the new position, City Manager James Keene called it the "missing link in our ability to the very best" in promoting government transparency. The City Council had approved the position last year as part of its budget approval process for fiscal year 2013.
"We are committed to open government and transparency and intend to set the standard for communication, collaboration, and civic participation in local government," Keene said in a statement. "To ensure this, we must add capacity to be proactive in our efforts and to work across boundaries within our organization and within our community and region."
Keene said Keith was chosen after an interview process that included two interview panels and feedback from community members experienced in the communication field. The search, according to the city, generated a "competitive field of candidates." Keene said the city is "delighted to have a person with Claudia's experience and credentials join our leadership team."
"We had some great candidates in this recruitment," Keene said. "At the end of the day, it was clear that Claudia's background in public communications in a complex and sensitive arena made her the right fit for us as our organization regenerates itself over the next few years."
Keith's duties at CSU included directing the activities of the public-affairs office, according to the city's announcement. This included media relations, strategic communications planning, issues management and public policy and integration of communication with state and federal advocacy efforts. She had also run her own consulting practice from 1998 to 2006, serving a clientele that included public agencies and a large financial institution, according to the city.
"I am honored and excited to begin in my new role with the city of Palo Alto, which offers a unique blend of engaged citizenry, innovative leadership and entrepreneurial vision," Keith said. "I look forward to joining the city's leadership team and working closely with the entire Palo Alto community.