Sachi A. Hamai: A legacy of service
L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai, who is retiring on August 31, leaves behind a 32-year legacy of leadership, innovation and accomplishment. This video looks back at some of the career highlights and lasting impacts of a career dedicated to public service.
L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sets New Retirement Date
August 10, 2020 — Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai, who agreed to temporarily postpone her retirement to help lead the County through the initial phase of the COVID-19 emergency, announced that she will retire at the end of August 2020.
“This has been a challenging and tumultuous period for our County and its residents, and it has been an honor to help lead our workforce in its unprecedented response to COVID-19. While we still have a long way to travel on our road to recovery, our budgetary and public health situation is beginning to stabilize and I believe the time is right for me to continue with the retirement plans I first announced last October,” Hamai said. “I am confident that our Board of Supervisors, along with our department heads and exceptional workforce, will successfully lead Los Angeles County through recovery and into a healthier, more equitable future.
“This week marks my 32nd year of County service. Although the challenges of the current moment are immense, I also reflect proudly on accomplishments during my tenure that have positioned us to meet today’s challenges from a position of fiscal strength—including our strongest-ever credit ratings and substantial investments in our rainy day funds.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served. I will never forget the incredible fellow employees who have partnered with me every step of the way.”
Members of the Board of Supervisors thanked Hamai for her public service—including her decision to postpone her retirement in order to help the County navigate one of the most difficult periods in its recent history.
“I want to thank our CEO Sachi Hamai for her unwavering commitment and dedication to Los Angeles County, most recently evidenced by her willingness to postpone her retirement to help us navigate the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger. “The Board of Supervisors is fortunate to have had Ms. Hamai at the helm of our CEO operations for the last several years. Her leadership and keen fiscal sense, coupled with her collaborative spirit, have greatly benefited Los Angeles County as a whole, and all of our residents and businesses throughout the region.”
“Sachi Hamai has demonstrated steady leadership during this unprecedented moment in the County’s history,” said Board Chair Pro Tem Hilda L. Solis. “She has managed the day-to-day operations of this country’s largest municipal government with singular focus. I thank Sachi for her years of service to our County residents, and in particular, for her dedication these past few months in responding to this public health crisis.”
“CEO Sachi Hamai has been an exceptional leader in moving Los Angeles County forward,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Her budgetary acumen, coupled with her commitment to serving the underserved, has enabled us to invest deeply in some of the most important priorities of our time, including justice reform and the fight to end homelessness, while maintaining the fiscal prudence that has earned the County its highest-ever credit ratings. She has been a mentor and role model to a generation of County leaders, including women and people of color, and her legacy as a collaborative, results-oriented CEO will continue to shape the workings of Los Angeles County government well into the future.”
“Every County CEO needs to be a political wizard, a genius with money, and a long-distance runner,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “Sachi gets an A+ in all three, plus being a mentor and a champion for women and people of color in government leadership. I am so grateful for her more than three decades of service, and can’t imagine the County without her.”
“We owe Sachi Hamai a great debt of gratitude,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Not only did she postpone her hard-earned retirement to guide the County through this unprecedented crisis, her careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars throughout her tenure kept our budget sound and balanced so that the Board’s priorities were always doable. She has been an incredibly effective leader and has accomplished so much for the County’s ten million residents over her 32 years of service.”
The Board has appointed Chief Operating Officer Fesia Davenport to serve as Acting Chief Executive Officer.
L.A. County CEO Sachi A. Hamai Sets 2020 Retirement Date
October 15, 2019 — Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai announced she will retire as top administrative leader of the nation’s largest municipal government in early 2020, capping a 31-year career leading innovation and managing solutions to some of the region’s most challenging issues.
Hamai was appointed CEO in 2015, and oversees a County budget of $36.1 billion and a workforce of nearly 113,000.
Her signature accomplishments include strong fiscal management that led to the County’s overall highest credit ratings ever, including a AAA rating from S&P Global Ratings, the highest level possible. Los Angeles County has achieved a total of four credit upgrades under her leadership.
She also replenished the county’s Rainy Day Fund to cushion the blow of future financial downturns. The fund now stands at $600 million.
As CEO, she has led transformation of the County’s governance structure, creating a coordinated, multi-departmental approach to addressing the Board of Supervisors’ key priorities—homelessness, justice reform, healthcare, immigrants’ rights, environmental monitoring, and the safety and wellbeing of children—as well as ad hoc initiatives such as sustainability and the Women and Girls Initiative.
She oversaw the launch of the Homeless Initiative, a broad and unprecedented response to the region’s homelessness crisis, and led implementation of the voter-approved Measure H, which since 2017 has helped move more than 16,000 individuals and families into permanent housing and 31,837 enter crisis, bridge or interim housing.
“It’s been the greatest honor of my life to serve Los Angeles County and its residents,” Hamai said. “The County confronts some of society’s toughest issues every day, often on behalf of people who have nowhere else to turn.
“I believe I am leaving the County in better shape than when I started. Our fiscal foundation is strong, and our departments have broken out of their silos and are working together in ways no one could have imagined in years past. I learned early in my career, through programs I led such as the multi-agency Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, that cross-collaboration is absolutely essential to making an impact.
“Clearly, there is plenty of hard work ahead—especially in the area of homelessness—but I am proud to have moved the County forward and positioned it to meet current and future challenges.”
Hamai, the first Asian American woman to serve as L.A. County’s CEO, has championed advancement and leadership opportunities for County employees throughout her career. In 2017, she co-founded WomenLeadLAC as a forum for up-and-coming managers to network with top executives.
She began her County career shortly after graduating from Colorado State University in 1988, moving up through the ranks of departments including Auditor-Controller and Health Services before being named the Executive Officer for the Board of Supervisors in 2006, interim Chief Executive Officer in 2014, and CEO in 2015.
In 2019, Hamai was named one of L.A.’s Top 500 most influential leaders for the fourth consecutive year by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Most recently, Innovate@UCLA announced Hamai as its unanimous choice to receive the 2019 Public Sector Executive Leadership Award. She is also the 2018 winner of the Clarence A. Dykstra Award for Excellence in Government.
She serves on the board of United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.
Hamai is a nature enthusiast who hikes frequently with her canine companion, Oreo. She is also an ardent distance runner, completing her first marathon in 1997 and achieving her personal best in the 2015 Tokyo Marathon.
Her retirement will take effect in early 2020, to allow time for the Board of Supervisors to select a successor.
“I’ve had the opportunity of working closely with ten County Supervisors, and I deeply respect every single one of them,” Hamai said. “They led by example as they advocated and fought for the constituents they were elected to serve. That commitment inspired me, and the County family, to always reach higher and do more.
“Now I am ready to write the next chapter in my professional life, but my heart will always be in public service, and filled with gratitude by the experiences and opportunities that shaped my career with L.A. County.”