Riverside, California promotes innovation chief to assistant city manager role

Lea Deesing, who spent five years as the Southern California city's CIO, will add emergency services and finance to her portfolio.

Riverside, California, promoted Lea Deesing, its chief innovation officer of five years, to the new position of assistant city manager, as part of a broader reorganization of the city’s leadership team, City Manager Al Zelinka announced last week.

Deesing’s first day in her new job was Monday. As CIO, a role she held since April 2013, Deesing oversaw a citywide information technology office responsible for acquisitions, cybersecurity and project management throughout a municipal government with about 2,400 employees in serving city of more than 324,000 people about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. She also oversaw the development of , an open data portal that allows residents to access information about agency records, the city budget and public services.

In her new role, Deesing will continue to oversee the IT department, and is now also responsible for Riverside’s police, fire and finance departments. The city’s library and museum will also be reporting to her. Deesing was one of two assistant city managers named last week, sharing her promotion with Rafael Guzman, who had been Riverside’s director of community and economic development. Deesing and Guzman will each earn $241,620 a year in their new jobs, the city said.

“Lea and Rafael are known for their strong leadership of their respective departments and for providing a high level of customer service, which is the first priority of our elected leadership,” Riverside Mayor Pro Tempore Chris MacArthur said in a press release announcing the appointments.


Deesing also serves as the executive director of SmartRiverside , a nonprofit that recruits tech firms and high-skilled workers to the city. The group also provides refurbished computers and training to low-income families.

Day-to-day operations of Riverside’s IT office will be run by Deesing’s former deputy, Chris Tilden, while the city begins a search for a permanent replacement to lead the 60-person agency.

Before entering city government, Deesing, who did not return phone calls seeking comment, worked in a variety of government IT roles in neighboring San Bernardino County. Prior to entering government service, she spent eight years at the digital mapping company Esri.

Latest Podcasts