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Board appoints Dena Smith interim CEO, launches recruitment
Dena M. Smith, the County’s Chief Operating Officer, will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer beginning on April 1 while a nationwide recruitment is conducted for a new CEO, the Board of Supervisors unanimously decided in closed session today.
“The Board has the utmost confidence in Dena’s ability to carry out Board policy and lead the County organization as we conduct our due diligence to ensure we make the best choice for our next CEO,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert Lovingood. “The Board has directed County Human Resources to hire a recruitment firm and open the recruitment to internal and external candidates.”
Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux, who has served as CEO for seven years, will continue to serve the County in an advisory capacity per the terms of his 10-year contract. Earlier this month Mr. Devereaux announced his decision to retire as CEO and step into the role of advisor.
“I thank the Board and the County for a wonderful opportunity to be here and serve,” Mr. Devereaux said today following the Board’s announcement.
Ms. Smith has been with the County since 1999, serving first as Chief Learning Officer then as Clerk of the Board and Director of Land Use Services. She was promoted to Deputy Executive Officer in 2011 and to Chief Operating Officer last year. As COO, Ms. Smith is the principal assistant to the CEO for operational and administrative issues. She assists in the implementation of policies and directives from the Board of Supervisors and oversees the Government Relations, Legislative Affairs, Public Information and Special Projects Units of the County Administrative Office.
Ms. Smith will be the first African-American and only the second woman to serve the County as its chief executive or chief administrator on an interim or permanent basis.
“The faith placed in me by the Board of Supervisors is truly humbling, and the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of someone as effective and as successful as Greg Devereaux is an honor,” Ms. Smith said. “It will be a pleasure to serve this Board, and to work with and lead the talented, hard-working people that make our County a great organization.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Ms. Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., and then relocated to California, where she earned her master’s degree in psychobiology from UC Irvine.
Ms. Smith has worked for more than 30 years in San Bernardino County. In 1984, she joined the San Bernardino Public Employees Association where she worked for 10 years representing public employees in labor negotiations, grievances and disciplinary appeals. In 1994, she went to the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools as the Human Resources Program Manager managing credentials, benefits and training. She also oversaw the establishment and operation of the Educational Resource Centers in Rancho Cucamonga and Apple Valley.
Her various roles with the County have given her valuable experience in various aspects of County Government and in coping with management challenges. She was the first person to hold the titles of Chief Learning Officer and Chief Operating Officer, positions in which she defined new functions for the County.