Promotional appointment of 12-year veteran in local government expands responsibilities such as intergovernmental affairs and several citywide priorities 

City of Palo Alto logoPalo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada announced today the promotional appointment of Chantal Cotton Gaines to Deputy City Manager, effective immediately. The appointment expands Cotton Gaines’ responsibilities including furthering intergovernmental relations, managing the City’s race and equity initiatives including public safety policies, and other citywide priorities.

“I am proud to announce the promotional appointment of Chantal Cotton Gaines to Deputy City Manager,” said Ed Shikada, Palo Alto’s city manager. “This leadership role will build on Chantal’s demonstrated experience in addressing complex community needs here in Palo Alto and previously in Oakland, as we continue to adapt to the pandemic and fiscal challenges, providing City services and furthering the City Council’s priorities.“

As a 12-year veteran leading local government public policy initiatives and programs, Cotton Gaines has held several city management roles in California, Maryland and Michigan. This promotional appointment expands Cotton Gaines’s responsibilities with the City of Palo Alto where she previously held the role of Assistant to the City Manager for nearly three years, working on high priority projects such as Connecting Palo Alto Rail Grade Separation, managing the organizational transition required during establishment of the Office of Transportation, and citywide responses to constituent concerns.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the Palo Alto community in this new capacity,” said Chantal Cotton Gaines, new deputy city manager for the City of Palo Alto. “I am proud to have a strong family history with both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, from my mother in-law’s previous business in Palo Alto to my husband being a proud Paly Viking alum, and I am thrilled to continue to give back to the local community I call home.”

Prior to working for the City of Palo Alto, Cotton Gaines was with the City of Oakland for 4 years where she led the development of a $25 Million annual public safety and violence prevention initiative. Other career highlights include serving in city administration and leadership roles for the City of College Park, Maryland and the City of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County in Michigan. In addition to her local government experience, Cotton Gaines currently serves on the Cal-ICMA Ethics Committee and as the Mills College student chapter Mentor. Other industry leadership involvement includes membership in the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), serving on many committees such as the Government and Policy Affairs Committee and Smart Communities Advisory Committee and membership in and previous board member for the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC).

Cotton Gaines holds a Master of Public Policy, Master of Urban Planning, and an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan and completed the Local Government Summer Institute at Stanford University. She enjoys writing, leisurely bicycling, and mentoring the next generation of government leaders especially through her volunteer advisory role with the YMCA Youth in Government program. Cotton Gaines is a proud native of Flint, Michigan and currently lives in East Palo Alto with her husband and two sons.

Cotton Gaines joins City Manager Ed Shikada and Assistant City Manager Dr. Monique leConge Ziesenhenne in providing general management and leadership for the City organization.  The assistant city manager functions as chief operations officer, leading citywide systems and the continuous improvement of city services such as performance management, constituent responsiveness, and enterprise resource planning.  The deputy city manager leads major multi-departmental projects and addresses unplanned priorities such as the City’s race and equity initiatives. This appointment fills the City’s Deputy City Manager position which was previously vacant for five months due to a staff transition.