September 22, 2023 – The Hawkins Company, a Los Angeles-based executive recruitment firm, has been chosen to find the next fire chief for the City of Santa Monica, CA. “The City of Santa Monica is seeking an experienced, energetic, and engaging leader to continue building on the department’s established foundation,” said the search firm. “A strong leader who is collaborative and mindful of the role the fire chief plays as the touchstone of the fire department for the community.”
The department’s next fire chief will be charged with directing, planning, and managing the activities and staff. This individual will be expected to plan and coordinate emergency operations to ensure the prevention of death, injury, property loss, and environmental damage. The fire chief also formulates the department’s organizational design, mission, goals, rules, policies, and procedures. Assessing the adequacy of fees, codes, and ordinances and following up appropriately to implement necessary changes are key responsibilities of the role.
The chief will be expected to provide strong, steady, and decisive leadership during a period of budgetary constraints while ensuring resources are allocated appropriately to meet the needs of the department from a capital and human resources perspective, said The Hawkins Company. This leader will also oversee the completion of a “best in class” fire academy and continue to lead efforts to build a new fire station (permanent beach station) and update existing facilities and equipment. Also critical will be leading a department-wide transparent succession planning process that ensures service excellence, accountability, staff development, and training at all levels based on principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Candidates must have graduated from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree. They should also have six years of progressively responsible experience administering and managing emergency and non-emergency activities in a fire department with at least three years as a chief officer.
SMFD’s next leader must have experience managing a fire department that extends past traditional fire suppression and understand the importance of maintaining policies and procedures that promote public safety awareness, said The Hawkins Company. The chief must also be an adept communicator with an empathetic spirit who can guide the fire department in post-pandemic conditions and understand the importance of prioritizing the health and well-being of its membership.
Top prospects will have a proven track record of leadership in all aspects of best-in-class fire services delivery, said the search firm. The ideal candidate must possess outstanding interpersonal skills and demonstrated abilities in being an external facing leader interacting with the community. The fire chief must also be a strong collaborator who is decisive, a strategic problem-solver, and a critical thinker. Building and sustaining strong relationships is key, along with the ability to navigate successfully in a highly political and unionized environment.
The Santa Monica Fire Department has served its community since 1889. The department responds to over 16,000 calls for service each year. Anchored by five fire stations across the city, SMFD provides full-time fire and paramedic services, fire prevention, urban search and rescue, hazardous material response, and airport firefighting capabilities. The department also has its own accredited fire academy.
“The Santa Monica Fire Department is known for their dedicated staff, being at the forefront of public safety technology, and being the first to share resources,” said The Hawkins Company. “Although SMFD has long maintained many of its traditions, the department also thinks beyond the traditional roles of fire suppression and emergency medical services and has emerged as an industry leader in providing creative community risks reduction public safety services.”
Established in 1984, The Hawkins Company is a management consulting firm specializing in executive recruitment. While recognized for its expertise in diversity recruiting, the firm is a general practitioner that focuses on achieving the executive level staffing objectives of private, public, educational and non-profit clients. Early on, The Hawkins Company focused exclusively on private sector recruiting. Over time, it was requested to conduct searches for government agencies and became nationally recognized for its ability to apply private sector search strategies to meet the recruitment needs of public sector clients. Today, its client base includes educational institutions and non-profit organizations. The firm has conducted over 700 national, regional, and local executive searches for CEOs, COOs, CAOs, CFOs, and other officers, directors, senior managers and professional staff.
In another recent assignment, The Hawkins Company placed Veronica Garcia as chief human resources officer for the non-profit Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) in Los Angeles. Ms. Garcia was previously vice president of HR and talent management for the Skid Row Housing Trust. Yonnine Hawkins Garr, vice president, and Tisa Jones, managing consultant and director of candidate engagement and assessment, led the assignment.
In her role with CRCD, Ms. Garcia oversees all human resource and compliance functions; develops people, culture, and workplace strategies; leads change initiatives that enhance staff performance; facilitates organizational effectiveness. She also provide leadership and guidance for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of the executive management team, Ms. Garcia collaborates with the executive leadership team to maintain positive working relationships with the board of directors, its committees, and all CRCD staff.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media