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Michelle Poché Flaherty Named as Palo Alto Deputy City Manager

City Manager James Keene announced today that he has selected Michelle Poché Flaherty to serve as Deputy City Manager, and she will join the City on August 8. Flaherty currently serves as Director of Performance, Strategy & Innovation for the Architect of the Capitol, a federal agency responsible for maintaining Capitol Hill's historic facilities and parks, as well as promoting tourism.  

"Michelle's experience in organizational development and building high performing employee teams will be a valuable asset to this position that requires working across departments throughout the City," said Keene. "Her leadership roles in county government, federal agencies, as well as with local government here in Silicon Valley provide a unique perspective into both the complex needs of a large organization, as well as how to connect with the community." 

With more than 25 years in public service, Flaherty has held senior level positions in a variety of organizations, and for the past decade, has focused on organizational development, performance management, continuous improvement and strategic planning. She is also a certified executive coach and the published editor and author of the International City Management Association’s textbook on supervisory skills for high performing teams.  

“Palo Alto is a very special community and the City’s management team is among the most highly regarded in the country. It’s a genuine privilege to join the thought leaders and dedicated community builders who serve this extraordinary City,” stated Flaherty. “I’ve missed California and especially the valley, from its diverse cultural heritage to its entrepreneurial spirit, and I’m thrilled to be coming home.”

In her most current position, Flaherty managed a staff of internal consultants responsible for strategic planning, performance management, results measurements and organizational development. She served as a strategic advisor to senior leadership on management strategy, accountability and building a high performing team.  

From 2006 to 2012, Flaherty served as the Organizational Development Manager for the city of Rockville, Maryland, reporting directly to the City Manager as a full time internal management consultant. She served as a strategic advisor to the executive leadership team, and was responsible for the creation of a new strategic management function to promote High Performance Organization methods. During her tenure with Rockville, she launched a new development program for senior managers, developed and implemented a management and leadership training program for supervisors, and led organization-wide employee efforts to both improve productivity and strengthen innovation and accountability.

Flaherty served as Assistant County Manager from 2002 to 2006 for Washoe County in Reno, Nevada where she was one of two deputy executives reporting directly to the County Manager. She directed the operations of departments including human resources, regional parks and open space, land use planning and building services, water resources/utilities, public works, engineering and capital projects.  

In 1999, Flaherty was appointed by the Governor to be the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Director of the California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency to promote business opportunities and economic development across a 13-county region. She worked to attract Silicon Valley funding partners and served as an ex-officio member of the California Coastal Commission.

Flaherty started her career as a field representative for Congressman Norman Mineta where she developed legislative strategy and represented the Congressman at public events and policy meetings in his Silicon Valley District. In 2001, when Mineta was appointed Secretary of Transportation, she was recruited to serve as his Deputy Chief of Staff and facilitated the first-year transition and leadership start-up for the newly appointed cabinet member.

A native of the Bay Area, her early career was based in Silicon Valley as a Government Affairs Analyst for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority from 1995 to 1997, and from 1997 to 1999 as Chief of Staff for newly elected County Supervisor Joe Simitian. 

Flaherty holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a master of public administration from Penn State (anticipated December 2017) and is an alum of the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  

This is one of two Deputy City Manager appointments within the City Manager’s office, with Community Services Director Rob de Geus promoted as DCM last May.  

Last Updated July 17, 2017