Chantal Cotton Gaines, a fixture in Palo Alto's recent efforts to launch the Office of Transportation and advance a new vision for the rail corridor, has been promoted to deputy city manager, City Manager Ed Shikada announced Tuesday.
Gaines, a 12-year veteran of local government service, has spent the past three years as assistant to the city manager, first under former City Manager James Keene and later under Shikada. Her recent projects include helping the city launch its Office of Transportation and facilitating meetings of the Expanded Community Advisory Panel, a citizen group that is helping the city select a preferred alternative for rail design.
Shikada said in a statement that the promotion is effective immediately. In her new job, she will have a greater role in furthering intergovernmental relations, managing the city's initiatives on race and equity (including public safety reform) and other citywide priorities, according to the announcement.
She will be stepping into a position that has been vacant since April, when Michelle Poche Flaherty resigned to become assistant city manager in Redwood City.
Before coming to Palo Alto, Gaines had spent four years with the city of Oakland, where she led the development of a $25 million annual public safety and violence prevention initiative, according to the city. A native of Flint, Michigan, Gaines has also previously served in city administration and leadership roles for the city of College Park in Maryland, and the city of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County in Michigan.
Shikada said in the statement that he is proud to make the promotional appointment.
"This leadership role will build on Chantal's demonstrated experience in addressing complex community needs here in Palo Alto and previously in Oakland, as we continue to adapt to the pandemic and fiscal challenges, providing City services and furthering the City Council's priorities," Shikada said.
Gaines, who lives in East Palo Alto, said in the statement that she is "grateful for the opportunity to serve the Palo Alto community in this new capacity."
"I am proud to have a strong family history with both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, from my mother-in-law's previous business in Palo Alto to my husband being a proud Paly Viking alum, and I am thrilled to continue to give back to the local community I call home," Gaines said.