Distinguished Service Award – Rod Gould


After 35 years of government service, including 29 years in city management, a colleague describes Rod Gould as an ambassador for public service, guru of best management practices, and mentor extraordinaire. The cities he served — Santa Monica, Monrovia, San Rafael, Poway, and Walnut Creek — all were beneficiaries of his forward-thinking approaches to service delivery, finances, sustainability, capital projects, police reform, civic engagement, transportation issues, and ensuring public access to high-speed Wi-Fi.

Mr. Gould enjoys serving in professional associations for the perspective it provides of local government management and its many practitioners. He has served as ICMA Vice President, president of the League of California Cities – City Managers Department, and as a member of the league’s board. He currently serves on the boards of the Institute for Local Government, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University, and SAGE Publication’s State and Local Government Review.

He has taught at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy, San Francisco State University, and California State University, Long Beach in the MPA programs and the Stanford Local
Government Institute, and has served as city manager in residence at Stanford, Pepperdine, USC, Cornell, and Berkeley. “I am thrilled by the energy, enthusiasm, and smarts of today’s MPA students” says Gould. “Their many strengths and skills auger well for public management in the future.”

Mr. Gould provides professional training and consults with local governments. “Helping my active colleagues and staff to solve or manage pressing problems has multiple rewards,” he says. He is a senior partner with Management Partners, serving local governments; director of training for the Center for Public Safety Management; and a director of the HdL Companies. Mr. Gould has published articles in Public Management, Western City, and Governing magazines, and presented on issues in emergency preparedness, civic engagement, good governance, police reform, pension reform, and council-manager relations. He has received numerous awards, including the Cal-ICMA Hall of Fame Award for Ethics and the Wes McClure Manager of Distinction Award by the League of California Cities.

At this point in his encore career, Mr. Gould enjoys blending teaching, consulting, training, mentoring, and coaching, particularly to support those rising in the profession. Although local government management is one of the most demanding professions in society, he believes that it truly offers some of the greatest opportunities for service and fulfillment.

Read the award excerpt here.

Farewell Rod!

In January 2015, Santa Monica’s CityTV 16 covered the retirement party for Santa Monica city manager Rod Gould, where employees and colleagues bid him farewell and good luck.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my career to get to work with many of you…I could not be more pleased and impressed with the work, the dedication, the honesty and the innovation of the City staff here in Santa Monica.” – Rod Gould, Santa Monica’s city manager from 2010-2015

In the Chair – Santa Monica City Manger Rod Gould Discusses His Retirement

Following his announcement that he would retire at the end of January 2015, Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould discussed the challenges of the city manager position and his post-retirement plans with Brenton Garen, the Executive Editor of local news outlet Westside Today.

“The breadth and scope of the work is greater in Santa Monica than most cities of 90,000 anywhere in the United States and perhaps the world. This city aspires to be a leader, not just in traditional municipal services, but in things like sustainability, technology, mobility, aid to the homeless, and aid to education.” – Rod Gould, City Manager of Santa Monica

Rod Gould shares his experience as Santa Monica City Manager – Point of View

In November 2010, Point of View (PoV) — the television program and on-line media organization of the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) — interviewed Rod Gould, City Manager of Santa Monica, California as a follow-up to his guest lecture for Cornell’s MPA colloquium series on November 11, 2010.

In this interview, Rod discusses his role as Santa Monic’as City Manager, describes how the position has evolved since the 1980s, and examines the current and future challenges of city management in general. Finally, Rod Gould offers encouragement for others interested in pursuing careers in city management.

“I would hope that the bright students in your graduate school would consider local government as a potential career…I think the chance to make the greatest difference is at the local level…If you want to make a difference in people’s lives, go to cities because that’s where people live…Cities are the incubators of civilization.” – Rod Gould, City Manager of Santa Monica

Rod Gould – City Manager of Santa Monica

In April 2012, Rod Gould was the subject of a video interview with the California City Management Foundation (CCMF) as part of their ‘Meet Your City Manager’ video series. These videos feature candid interviews with respected city managers from across California talking about the council-manager relationship, their favorite accomplishments as managers and their love for the profession.

“My favorite thing about being a city manager is seeing City employees digging in and doing their jobs really, really well. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that says [government] employees are lazy (or worse), the public employees I’ve gotten to work with over 26 years are dedicated and smart and altruistic and extremely creative.” – Rod Gould, City Manager of Santa Monica