Palo Alto hires new Human Resources director

Rumi Portillo tapped to lead department after Kathryn Shen's resignation

City Manager James Keene didn't wait long in selecting a new leader for the city's Human Resources Department, tapping a veteran from Los Gatos for the "chief people officer" position.

Rumi Portillo, who currently serves as Director of Human Resources for the City of Los Gatos, will replace Kathryn Shen, who resigned last month to pursue other career opportunities. Shen's last day in Palo Alto was Nov. 30, according to Claudia Keith, the city's chief communications officer.

Shen, who has led the city's Human Resources Department since April 2012, is one of two department heads to resign in recent weeks. Utilities Director Valerie Fong has also decided to conclude her nine-year tenure at the end of the year, triggering a recruitment effort that is expected to stretch for the first few months of 2016, and include feedback from several selection committees.

By contrast, Keene's search for Shen's replacement has been unusually swift. Pending the City Council's confirmation on Dec. 14, Portillo will officially begin her position on Jan. 19, according to the city's announcement. Her yearly salary will be $204,000.

Portillo has spent the past 10 years in Los Gatos, where she has been overseeing all human resource faction, including recruitment, staffing and labor relations, according to the city.

Between 2001 and 2005, she was the employment manager for the City of Sunnyvale, responsible for recruitment and selection services for city staff, with a particular focus on public-safety hiring.

Before that, she held a series of positions in the City of San Jose, most recently serving as employment manager, according to the city. During the stint, which stretched from 1989 to 2000, she developed the hiring system for more than 6,000 employees in the city's workforce, according to the city.

"Rumi has 25 years of experience in public sector human resources, and has extensive experience in both operational and organizational development," Keene said in a statement. "Her broad portfolio and leadership in key areas including performance management, recruitment, public safety and labor relations will provide great value as we address the challenges and opportunities in a competitive marketplace for employee talent."

Portillo said in a statement that she is "thrilled at this opportunity to join the City's leadership as the Chief People Officer."

"I look forward to providing excellent human resources services in Palo Alto, which is known for its unique, complex and innovative character," Portillo said. "My background and experience aligns with the needs of the City and I am excited to do great work with the entire Human Resource team."


Like this comment
Posted by Cathy Morrey
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Palo Alto is lucky to have such a talented, smart, caring and collaborative Human Resources Director as Rumi Portillo!

4 people like this
Posted by Better Still...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2016 at 8:30 am

How about a new city manager, instead? One who doesn't need two assistants, works a forty hour week, and doesn't take so much vacation time

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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