John A. Russo has been Riverside’s City Manager since May 4, 2015, leading a municipal workforce of more than 2,400 employees. He was appointed in mid-February by the Riverside City Council, which cited Russo’s legislative and executive management experience as well as his commitment to fiscal responsibility, responsiveness and transparency.
Russo previously spent nearly four years as City Manager of Alameda and before that served as the City Attorney of Oakland for 11 years. Prior to being elected City Attorney in Oakland, Russo was a City Council member there for nearly six years. His 27 years in California’s legal and government communities give him an extensive professional network in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Russo’s executive leadership team includes Assistant City Managers Alex Nguyen, Al Zelinka and Deanna Lorson.
Russo graduated cum laude from Yale University and earned his Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law. He worked two years at a legal aid office in St. Louis, Missouri before moving to Oakland in 1987, where he worked as a private attorney until 2000.
Russo served on the Oakland City Council from 1995-2000, where he authored Oakland’s open government law, known as the Sunshine Ordinance. Russo served as Oakland City Attorney from 2000-2011. In both capacities, he worked with current Gov. Jerry Brown, who was Mayor of Oakland from 1999-2007.
Gary G. Geuss was appointed the Riverside City Attorney in March, 2015. Under general policy direction of the City Council, he is the City’s chief legal advisor and the manager of the City Attorney’s Office. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from California State University of Northridge and his Juris Doctorate for Southwestern University School of Law.
Gary started his legal career at Lynberg & Watkins practicing insurance and municipal defense work. He later moved to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office as a deputy city attorney as a prosecutor for five years before transitioning back to the defense of the City of Los Angeles. Gary was promoted to Civil Litigation Manager supervising the police litigation, general litigation and employment litigation sections. After four years, he was promoted to Branch Chief of the Civil Management Branch.
In 2013, Gary was asked to serve as Branch Chief in charge of the LA Proprietary departments, The Department of Water and Power, LA International Airport and the Port of LA.
Girish Balachandran is a 24-year veteran of California municipal utilities (including water, electricity and natural gas). Currently he is the General Manager of Riverside Public Utilities (RPU), which serves electricity to approximately 105,000 customers and water to approximately 65,000 customers, and is one of the largest municipal utilities in California.
Since joining RPU in 2014, Balachandran has initiated a number of innovative and collaborative processes focused on the following priorities: rebuilding aging water and electrical infrastructure, utilizing advanced technology to improve service delivery and customer satisfaction, developing the workforce to meet new skills needed in the utility of the future, and developing business models for the utility to adapt and thrive in a an uncertain environment.
Before joining RPU, Balachandran served as General Manager of Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) for seven years. Balachandran led a series of changes that resulted in AMP’s #1 rating in residential customer satisfaction after years of steady improvement, bond-rating increase from A- to A+, and selling a failing telecom system to end years of financial losses.
Prior to his tenure in Alameda, Balachandran served in a variety of capacities with the City of Palo Alto Utilities, including Assistant Director of Utilities, Resource Management. He started his career as an analyst with Pasadena Water and Power after obtaining his Masters in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles.
Lea Deesing serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Riverside, California and the Executive Director of SmartRiverside, a nonprofit which aims to narrow the digital divide in her region by empowerment through technology and education.
Lea’s professional experience includes 29 years in the Information Technology field with 18 years specific to local government. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills, a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Systems from the University of Redlands, and a Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute.
She belongs to a number of professional organizations and advisory boards and has received national recognition for her articles and speeches on career advice, social media, project management, government transparency, innovation, and more.
Alexander T. Nguyen has been Riverside’s Assistant City Manager since May 4, 2015. ACM Nguyen oversees Police, Fire, Library, Museum, and the Parks, Recreation and Community Services departments.
ACM Nguyen worked nearly four years in Alameda as Assistant City Manager, supervising Public Works, Information Technology, and Public Information and Public Engagement. He also supported the City Manager’s Office on police and fire issues and worked with the Mayor’s Office on legislation, public outreach and other issues.
Prior to joining Alameda, ACM Nguyen was Chief of Staff to John Russo during Mr. Russo’s 11-year term as the elected City Attorney of Oakland. ACM Nguyen also served ten years as executive director of Neighborhood Law Corps, supervising five attorneys who practiced community law in Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods.
ACM Nguyen, a graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, started his career as a social worker in that city, working primarily with immigrant communities. He also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, on behalf of abused and neglected children. He speaks English, Vietnamese and conversational Spanish.
Since 2011, ACM Nguyen has served on the Board of Directors for Thrive Networks. He also served on the boards of the Family Violence Law Center from 2000-2010, including as President from 2003-2006; the San Francisco Asian American Theater Company from 1997-98; and on a variety of boards and foundations in Worcester from 1995-97.
Brent graduated from Biola University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. He spent four years in public accounting, primarily with Price Waterhouse Coopers. He then accepted a position with the City of Rialto as the Assistant Finance Director and was responsible for the daily operation of the Finance Department for three years.
Following Rialto, Brent joined the City of Riverside and has been there for over 21 years. He was hired as the Controller, a position he held for nine years. He was promoted to Assistant Finance Director and held that position for seven years. In 2010 he was appointed as the Finance Director/Treasurer. Brent manages the City’s financial operations which include accounting, budgeting, bond financing/debt management, purchasing, risk management and the investment/treasury function.
Brent has been married for 26 years and is the father of ten children, six of which have been adopted. He and his wife advocate for adoption - particularly children with special needs.
Brenda Diederichs began her HR career at San Bernardino County, while earning her BA in Political Science, from California State Polytechnic University Pomona. She next worked for the Southern California Rapid Transit District for 10 years in both HR and Labor Relations. While there she earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. Brenda went on to practice law and serve as the labor and employment law department chair for two major public law firms for 10 years, before returning to public service as the Executive Director for Labor and Employment, Human Resources and Training for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. She opened her own law firm in 2007, which she operated until returning to public service as the Human Resources Director for the City of Riverside.
Michael Moore was sworn in as the 21st Fire Chief for the City of Riverside Fire Department on August 26, 2014. He was born in raised in the City of Long Beach and attended elementary and Jr. High School there. He graduated from near-by Bellflower High School in 1979.
Coming to the City with over 32 years of experience, he started his career in the fire service with the Orange County Fire Department in 1982 as a Firefighter, and worked his way up the ranks to Division Chief (local Fire Chief).
While with OCFA, he served as a Battalion Chief and headed their Operations Training and Safety Section for five years and was the Training Section lead on the design team for the new Regional Fire Operations and Training Center facility. He also worked in the department’s busiest operation battalion for nearly four years and served as a Task Force Leader on the department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (California Task Force 5).
In 2008 he was promoted to Division Chief where he served as the local Fire Chief for four cities: Yorba Linda, Tustin, Placentia and Villa Park. In 2001 he became the Division Chief (local Fire Chief) for the City of Irvine.
Chief Moore is a graduate of California State University Long Beach with Masters Degree in Public Administration, Redlands University with a Bachelors in Management, Long Beach City College with an Associates Degree in Fire Science and Santa Ana College with an Associates Degree in Paramedical Sciences. He is a California State Certified Instructor and Fire Officer. Chief Moore graduated from the National Fire Academy in Emmittsburg, Maryland completing the four-year Executive Fire Officer Program. He is active in his fraternity - Sigma Pi Fi and Rotary International.
As our Fire Chief, he brings an extensive background in various aspects of the fire service and is committed to staying active in specialize training opportunities, strategic planning, accreditation and preparing our city for future challenges.
His focus is to update our Department’s Strategic Plan, a document that is an overall umbrella of our goals, objectives and mission statement, and to look forward to the needs of the department and the city; and review and update the Standards of Cover that ensures we are providing the best service and coverage for the city through established response time criteria.
Chief Moore resides in the City of Riverside with his wife Robyne of 32 years and they have two adult children, Candace and Cameron. His hobbies are supporting local sports teams (Anaheim Angels and San Diego Chargers), camping, working out at the local gym (weights, running and racquetball), motorcycling, bicycling and restoring 60’s and 70’s muscle cars.
Tonya Kennon is Director for the City of Riverside Public Library. Since beginning a career in Librarianship, she has also worked for the County of Riverside and Tustin Unified School District where her jobs have included County Librarian and Library Services Supervisor among others.
In her current role, Kennon provides direction for the City’s eight library locations and is responsible for short-term and strategic planning, managing financial and human resources, and ensuring that library services, materials, and resources evolve in ways that meet community need. In addition to these responsibilities, Kennon is Vice President of the Inland Library System Executive Board and is a board member of the California Library Association, an organization that provides leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library services and librarianship throughout California. Kennon’s work upholds her objective for servant leadership that positively impacts the community and the profession.
Kennon’s interests include removing barriers to information access and educational resources, early learning, informing, mentoring and supporting young women and new library professionals, and advancing diversity in the field. To this end, she serves as a mentor for IE LEADS (Inland Empire Librarians Educated to Advance Diversity and Service) and is a member of the California State Library’s Early Learning with Families Advisory Committee.
Kennon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California Baptist University and a Master of Library Science degree from San Jose State University.
Sarah Suverkrup Mundy was appointed Director of Museum and Cultural Affairs in December 2012. Ms. Mundy came from the County of Riverside where she was Assistant Director, Economic Development and Cultural Services. During her tenure there, she oversaw the County Fair, Economic Development, the Edward Dean Museum and Gardens, Marketing, and the County Library System. After demonstrating leadership at the county for over 14 years, Sarah Suverkrup Mundy came to the City of Riverside to lead the Riverside Metropolitan Museum Department. Shortly after becoming director, Ms. Mundy identified and raised the funds to purchase the site of the future National Historical Landmark, Harada House Interpretation Center, brought in a new, world renown, operator for the Fox Performing Art Center and the Municipal Auditorium, increased the budget to bring back critical subject matter curatorial staff, and brought staff, programing, and outreach to the newest museum location; the Ameal Moore Nature Center and saw the Festival of Lights achieve an all-time attendance record as well as be recognized as the best seasonal light display in the nation.
Sarah Suverkrup Mundy holds a BA in Communications from St. Mary's College, Moraga. She is an active member of the California Associates of Museums, American Alliance of Museums and Smithsonian Affiliates. In addition, Sarah Suverkrup Mundy has served on many Boards of Directors in the region.
Appointed as City Clerk in August of 1996, Colleen J. Nicol brings over thirty years of experience in the municipal clerk profession to Riverside, a diverse southern California full-service city of 312,000 residents and 112,000 registered voters.
Nicol embraces integration of new technology and open government initiatives. Nicol championed EngageRiverside.com, the City’s transparency portal. Nicol oversees the City’s Public Records Advocate and upcoming on-line tool for public records requests. In addition to providing legislative support to the Mayor and City Council, Nicol conducts all municipal elections, oversees the Citywide records retention program, administers board and commission recruitment, and operates a Passport Acceptance Facility.
Nicol served on the City Clerks Association of California Board of Directors continuously from 1992 to 2007 and as its President in 2000-01. She trains at California’s Technical Training for Clerks, mentors municipal clerks regarding IIMC certification, and is the former Chair of Continuing Education for Public Officials.
Nicol is a Past President of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, served seven years on its Board of Directors, and currently is Vice-Chair of its Program Review and Certification Committee. In May 2015 Nicol was named President of the Municipal Clerks Education Foundation.
Nicol received the Quill Award in May of 2002 and was named the City Clerks Association of California City Clerk of the Year in 2006. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.
Kris Martinez has served the City of Riverside for 21 years – with the last ten years as the City’s General Services Director. Under her leadership, the General Services Department contributed substantially to the success of the Riverside Renaissance, building the state of the art Grier Pavilion, renovating City Hall and the award winning Riverside Convention Center, rehabilitating the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, as well as overseeing construction of the Fox Entertainment Plaza, the new downtown Fire Station and many other capital improvement projects. In addition to a successful capital projects division, Ms. Martinez is also responsible for managing the Riverside Municipal Airport, publishing services, and all aspects of city facilities and fleet.
Under her direction, the City has become a leader in green fleet and alternative fuels programming, winning multiple recognitions from national organizations -– notably, Top 50 Leading Fleets by Government Fleet Magazine (2015), #1 Government Green Fleet in the Nation (2012) and #10 – 100 Best Fleets in the Nation (2011).
During Ms. Martinez’ career with the City of Riverside, she also held leadership positions with Parks and Recreation, the Fire Department, and the City Manager’s office.
She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from California State University, San Bernardino and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Administrative Studies from University of California, Riverside.
Chief Sergio Diaz is an accomplished criminal justice leader who has transformed his professional philosophy of respect for all persons into a working practice of collaboration to achieve community safety, development of the leaders of the future and implementing practical solutions to reduce crime and fear - always working to increase value to the quality of life.
One of the country's most respected criminal justice leaders, he is known for his responsive, purposeful, and innovative approach to contempory policing issues. Diaz accepted his current assignment as Chief of Police for Riverside California Police Department in July 2010, after spending over thirty years with the Los Angeles Police Department in various positions.
Chief Diaz places the highest value on critical thinking and creative problem-solving to proactively prevent and resolve crime and quality of life issues. A testament to these skills and his leadership are the various community enhancement programs, revisions to the police department training curriculum, and personal participation in countless sucessful and high profile demonstrations during his tenure with the Los Angeles Police Department
His rise through the ranks of the LAPD provided him with practical experience in all aspects of municipal law enforcement and a profound resolve to preserve the rights of people to live and work in safe environment. As the Department's highest ranking bi-lingual officer, Diaz reached out to community and civic leaders, businesses, and the media to forge relationships that heighten awareness and develop realistic solutions to reduce and prevent crime. His vision in leveraging technology to increase efficiencies in crime prevention led to his securing grant funds for video cameras to support police efforts in high crime areas, re-appropriating budgets to acquire a new generation of less-lethal weapons, and negotiating replacement equipment to maintain the safety of police forces throughout the country.
From humble beginnings as a refugee immigrant, Chief Diaz has a realistic understanding of the value of community support systems and the outcomes that can be achieved by seizing opportunity in the midst of crisis. His insight into leadership, mentoring, and education has made him a sought-after speaker at commencement excercises, leadership forums, and criminal justice programs.
Chief Diaz earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, while working full-time as a patrol officer. He subsequently completed Master Public Administration and Policy coursework at California State University, Long Beach. Ever interested in increasing his knowledge-base, Chief Diaz completed his certificate in Criminal Justice Education with the FBI National Academy. Chief Diaz is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum, FBI National Academy Associates, California Peace Officers' Association, and the American Society for Industrial Security
Chief Diaz and his family reside in Southern California.
Emilio Ramirez is the Development Director and Deputy Director for Community Development for the City of Riverside. Mr. Ramirez is responsible for oversight of the Successor Agency, Housing Authority, Neighborhoods and Historic Preservation, Real Property, and Planning services with the City of Riverside. Mr. Ramirez started with the City in June 2011. Prior to working for the City, he spent twelve years at the County of Riverside working his way from Development Specialist II to Assistant Director, a position he held for the last four years. Mr. Ramirez graduated from the University of California, Riverside, with a B.A. in Sociology and Economics. He received his Masters of Science in Economics from California State University, Pomona. He holds a Doctor of Jurist Prudence from Whittier Law School and is an active member of the State Bar of California.
Appointed by City Management June 2, 2014, Adolfo Cruz currently serves as the City of Riverside’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director, leading a department of 350+ employees. Selected for his 24 years of direct parks and recreation experience, ability to provide innovative recreational and social enrichment opportunities, and his vision to address the changing needs for people of all ages and cultures, Mr. Cruz administers first-class programs and services in a variety of safe and attractive parks, trails, landscapes and facilities.
Adolfo’s executive team includes Deputy Director Mario Lara, Recreation Superintendent Robin Metz, Community Services Superintendent Patricia Solano, Parks Superintendent Andrew Emery, Principal Park Planner Randy McDaniel, Senior Management Analyst Rachel McLure, and Senior Administrative Assistant Mayra Ocampo. Together the team manages a $20M department budget, 295.7 acres of developed land, 17 community and senior centers, and 7 city-wide pools.
Adolfo brings a deep working knowledge of Parks and Recreation operations. Prior to joining the City of Riverside, Adolfo worked with the City of San Jose, Department of Parks and Recreation, as a Recreation Program Coordinator. He continued his career with the City of Stockton, Community Services and Recreation Division as Recreation Supervisor, Recreation Superintendent, and lastly, as Deputy Director, where he played a critical role in city and community development.
Adolfo holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. He is a member of National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) and California Parks and Recreation Society (CPRS).
During his time with the City of Riverside, Adolfo plans to use his experiences and skills to lead an organization in delivering the highest quality of services to its’ community!
Tom joined the City in 1998 as the Public Works Engineering Manager and was appointed Public Works Director in April of 2012. Prior to April 2012, he was appointed Deputy Public Works Director in 1999 and served as the Interim Public Works Director from September 2001 to March 2003. Prior to Riverside, Tom’s background includes 10 years with the County of Los Angeles Road Department and 8 years with a private engineering firm. Under his direction, the City has obtained over $300 million in grant funding to construct 6 railroad grade separation projects, two freeway interchange projects and numerous arterial highway improvement and beautification projects, He is currently overseeing the largest public works project in the City’s history, the $240 million reconstruction and expansion of the City’s wastewater treatment plant, scheduled for completion in 2016.
He is a 1980 graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering and has been a Registered professional Engineer in California since 1983. He also has been involved with the American Public Works Association since 1990 both in the South California region and the Inland Empire, serving as the Inland Empire Branch, Secretary, Treasurer and President.
Deanna Lorson is Assistant City Manager for the City of Riverside, where she oversees the Finance, Human Resources and General Services departments and Internal Audit divison. Before becoming Assistant City Manager, Deanna served as Development Director for the City of Riverside for two years, directing redevelopment; economic development & marketing; housing & neighborhoods; arts & culture; real property services; and capital projects.
Deanna has over twenty seven years of local government experience, beginning as an intern with the City of Redlands while a student at the University of Redlands. Upon graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and International Relations, Deanna went to work for the City of Corona Planning Department. In 1994, she joined the Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA). During her fifteen years at EDA, Deanna held a variety of positions including serving as Managing Director from 2007 to 2009. As Managing Director, Deanna was responsible for daily operation of all of EDA’s programs including economic development & marketing, redevelopment, community services, workforce development, aviation, housing, fair, museum, finance and administration.
Deanna holds a Master of Public Administration from California State University, San Bernardino where she sits on the Program Advisory Board and has served as an adjunct professor. Additionally, Deanna serves on the UCR School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and Smart Riverside Board of Directors, and is active with the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Leadership Riverside program.