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Retired Santa Monica Assistant City Manager to Become Interim Executive V.P. at Santa Monica College


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 3, 2017 -- Elaine Polachek, who retired last month as Santa Monica’s assistant city manager, is soon to become interim executive vice-president for Santa Monica College, school officials announced Wednesday.

Polachek, who reached top posts at City Hall during her nearly three-decade career in public administration, will step into her position at SMC on August 21, officials said.

She will report directly to Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC’s superintendent/president.
Jeffery said Polachek’s title will be interim executive vice president, and that the post is “newly re-imagined.”

She said SMC is “incredibly fortunate” in the hiring of Polachek, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at its August 1 meeting.

“Her recent experience as Chief Operating Officer for the City of Santa Monica -- and her immense skill in overseeing complex operational areas – aligns beautifully with her responsibilities at the college.” Jeffery said in a statement.

“I am confident that her collaborative leadership style will foster greater connections and advancement-- both for SMC and for its students and the communities we serve,” she said.

Polachek replaces Jeffery Shimizu, who served as executive vice president through October of 2016. Shimizu also previously served as Interim Superintendent/President for SMC.

Polachek’s new position includes operational oversight of SMC’s Human Resources, Facilities Planning, Business and Administration, Institutional Research, Information Technology, and Grants offices, all areas whose services have college-wide impact.

Polachek also will take over as chief operating officer, assuming responsibility for SMC’s master planning activities, said SMC spokesperson Grace Smith.

Prior to serving as Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica, Polachek’s 28-year career in the city included such posts as Interim City Manager, Deputy City Manager, Director of Community Maintenance and Operations Manager for the Santa Monica Pier (“Trailblazing Santa Monica Assistant City Manager to Retire,” March 21, 2017).

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Jeffery. Her leadership and vision build upon the success that SMC has already achieved as a preeminent community college,” said Polachek.

“I look forward to getting to know the faculty, administrators, and staff of Santa Monica College and supporting their efforts. I admire the work they do -- providing first-rate and accessible higher education -- and am thrilled at the prospect of working alongside them.”

She said the role of “facilitator” was one she played in Santa Monica --– and a skill she will deploy at SMC.

“My approach is to foster a collaborative and productive environment,” Polachek said. “If the people I work with are successful then I’m doing my job well.”

Polachek was named 2016 Woman of the Year for the State of California Assembly District 50 and has won awards that include the 2014 John H. Nail Award from the League of California Cities City Managers’ Department; the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Award 2011, and the Women in Leadership Award 1997 from the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Council.

She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA.

She lives in West Hollywood with her husband Joel and their four cats.


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