The city of Pleasanton's Community Services and Library Services departments are poised to merge this summer with the upcoming departure of community services director Susan Andrade-Wax.
Andrade-Wax, who has led her department for nearly 10 years, is retiring from the city effective Feb. 8 -- a move city officials had been anticipating since last year, though the final transition date came a bit sooner than expected.
"This is a dream job and how you want to end your career," Andrade-Wax said Tuesday about her time in Pleasanton.
Library director Heidi Murphy, whom Andrade-Wax has mentored for the past eight months after announcing her plan to retire, will take over as acting director of both departments through June 30, after which the departments will formally combine into one with Murphy as its director, according to City Manager Nelson Fialho.
"(Andrade-Wax) has lots to be proud of during her tenure, including the many great programs and facilities that bring value to all segments of our community. Her department touches all corners of the city," Fialho said.
"I'm thankful for her years of service to Pleasanton and she's positioned Heidi over the past several months to take over the newly blended department successfully," he added. "It will result in more efficiency for the city, while also improving our reach of service to the community."
For Andrade-Wax, retirement doesn't mean she'll stop working.
She is moving to the city of San Rafael -- a non-California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) agency -- to become its community services director, likely a shorter-term role on the range of three to five years, she said.
Andrade-Wax started as Pleasanton's parks and community services director in November 2008, recalling that her first day on the job was the day the city opened its Alviso Adobe Community Park.
She joined Pleasanton after holding a similar position with the city of Gilroy. Her 34-year career in recreation services also included roles with the city of Santa Clarita and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Andrade-Wax acknowledged her tenure included some difficult years during and after the Great Recession, but because the city is "managed so well," her department was able to thrive while others in the state struggled to save staff and programs.
"What an incredible agency," she said, praising the support community services receive from city administration, the City Council, commissions and her employees.
"My proudest moment is my staff," Andrade-Wax added. "I have been fortunate to have incredible staff here."
As for programs and projects during her tenure, she pointed to the opening of the Alviso Adobe, Firehouse Arts Center and Bernal Community Park, as well as the Creatures of Impulse teen improv troupe, Ridge Runners youth camp and the continued success of the city's aquatic and sports programs.
"The neat thing about this department is it really is cradle to grave, and everything in between," Andrade-Wax said, referencing the Gingerbread Preschool and Pioneer Cemetery also falling under her purview.
She said she had planned to retire from Pleasanton in the spring, closer to the end of the fiscal year in June, so a transition strategy has been underway to groom Murphy to become her successor.
But, Andrade-Wax was thrown "a curveball" when the San Rafael city manager asked her to join their staff as community services director starting later this month. San Rafael has been without permanent leadership in that position since last March, and as a non-CalPERS agency, it has a number of public retirees across its staff, according to Andrade-Wax.
That accelerated her Pleasanton departure, but with Murphy waiting in the wings, "We couldn't be in better hands," Andrade-Wax said.
Murphy, who has worked for the city as library services director since April 2016, said she is excited about the new opportunity.
"I am inspired by the people in the library and the community services departments," Murphy said. "Together, we have tremendous opportunities to enhance service to our community by connecting the diverse talents of the staff teams and leveraging opportunities for collaboration."
"In anticipation of Susan's retirement, I have been mentoring with her for the past eight months," Murphy added. "Most impressive during this time are Susan's leadership and the skill and heart of the community services team."