Down another manager
Sherry Morgado takes a job with a local nonprofit
Another city of Chico government manager is leaving City Hall.
Sherry Morgado, the director of Housing and Neighborhood Services, confirmed on Monday (April 22) that she is leaving that post to take a job with the nonprofit Community Action Agency of Butte County.
Morgado is the fourth high-level city employee to leave this year. Assistant City Manager John Rucker and Building and Development Services Director Fritz McKinley left their respective positions without public notice or explanation in January and February, respectively. Earlier this month, Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy quit her job after six years to take a similar position in the Riverside County city of Temecula.
The departures, which came after the arrival of new City Manager Brian Nakamura, have fueled no small level of discomfort among a number of City Hall employees as the city moves to restructure departments. Rucker and McKinley have made no public statements about their sudden and unexpected departures. Nakamura has said he cannot comment on them because they are personnel matters. Hennessy said the choice was hers and that she was leaving both to take on a new job and get out of Chico.
When contacted by phone and asked if she was indeed leaving her position, Morgado laughed and asked, “How did that get out?” She confirmed her pending departure, and said her last day with the city will be April 30, and that she’ll begin her job as chief operations officer with the CAA on May 13.
She came to Chico eight years ago from Modesto to take on the Housing and Neighborhood Services job. She said the position with the Oroville-based CAA was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I had the great opportunity to pursue work with an agency whose mission is to eliminate poverty and help people become more self-sufficient,” she said. “When this post came open it was really and truly a career decision. I can understand people wondering. But it’s a matter of timing. The CAA decided to open the position, and it’s just all come together.”
Morgado said there is no direct link between her departure and Nakamura’s City Hall shake-up.
“It’s just the way things work out.” she said. “I’m going to still be involved in many of the same circles, but I’ll be representing a nonprofit agency instead of the city. It’s the same community partnering and the same issues. I’m not going away. I’m really excited to have an opportunity to grow my career.”
Nakamura praised Morgado and her time spent working for the city.
“Yes, it was quite disappointing to me that she had opted to take another position,” he said in a phone interview. “I had hoped to keep her here at the city because of her skills and abilities. I know that they will be getting a great employee where she is going as chief operations officer and I wish her the best, but in light of what’s been going on, she was definitely someone who we would have liked to have kept.”
City Councilman Mark Sorensen also praised Morgado and what she did for the city.
“Sherry is a very bright and capable person, and very knowledgeable of the business of subsidized housing in California,” he said via email. “She’ll do a great job for Community Action Agency.”
Sorensen also noted the city’s housing department took a hit when the state dissolved local redevelopment agencies.
“When the RDA was abolished, the city of Chico was substantially removed from the business of creating new housing projects,” he said. “The Housing [and Neighborhood Services] Department lost its major source of funding and became dependent upon the general fund, while cutting the staffing in half.”
But City Councilwoman Ann Schwab said losing an experienced employee like Morgado at such a time does the city no good.
“Once again we’ve lost someone who’s contributed a lot to the city,” she said. “We call it a brain drain. I wonder would she have looked for that opportunity if there wasn’t the pressure for the right-sizing of the organization?
“There is still housing money that will be coming through with federal dollars, and with talented personnel in the department there are other opportunities to find other funding. Without that experience, we’ll lose out.”