Mr. Deis has spent 34 years in public service either managing critical parts of cities and counties or entire local governmental agencies in California, Oregon and Washington. During his career he managed a new Washington city with only 200 employees and a California county with 5,000 employees. His last stop in his public service career was at the City of Stockton (300,000 pop.) as their City Manager.
Most of Mr. Deis’ career can be characterized as being one of transformational leadership. He demonstrates an astute political acumen, develops actionable strategic plans, facilitates self-assessments, while collaborating with chief executives, governing bodies and other stakeholder groups in order to effectuate positive change.
As an experienced County Administrator and City Manager with a unique background, he has the ability to interpret financial statements and converse with technicians. Concurrently, he has worked with public agency and community leaders to quickly diagnose, design and implement complex solutions to intransigent problems that affect entire communities. Due to his success at Stockton, he has been asked to assist in addressing substantial issues on behalf of chief executives and governing bodies. Stockton is now the 6th most fiscally solvent large city in the United States—an unprecedented transformation from insolvency. In the words of the Stockton City Council, Mr. Deis was “the architect of Stockton’s recovery.”
Mr. Deis has been a consultant since 2014. Some examples of his consultant practice follow.
- He assisted a southern California city that was insolvent for seven years and did not know it. Seven of that city’s senior executive team were indicted by the District Attorney, and it faced a $67 million court judgment—twice its total annual budget. In a relatively short period of time, Mr. Deis worked with their City Council and senior management to return that city to solvency, resolve judgments and claims, and restore confidence in the community.
- At the request of a new City Manager of a large southern California city, he managed an organizational assessment that uncovered unprofessional and extremely poor practices, that if not addressed could have pushed that city into insolvency. Mr. Deis assisted with their implementation of his recommendations.
- He has completed various assessments of public agency departments, e.g., human resources, public works, housing authority, with the goal of improving performance. He has facilitated goal setting with the governing body and senior leadership teams and helped resolve difficult interpersonal and work group conflicts. He also designed a new performance management system for a large city.
RELATED PUBLIC SECTOR EXPERIENCE
Mr. Deis retired as the City Manager of Stockton, CA in 2013, where he inherited an insolvent large city that was chaotic and in distress from operational, budget and governance perspectives. In 3.5 years, he assembled a highly motivated management team and created a new high-performing agency culture. He put the city on a path to solvency by taking the severe but necessary step of seeking bankruptcy protection. He restructured and eliminated short and long-term obligations and passed a unique revenue measure. While prosecuting a massive bankruptcy, he also oversaw the creation and implementation of the Marshall Plan on Crime, a comprehensive approach to a problem that has plagued Stockton for years.
Prior to Stockton, Mr. Deis was the County Administrator of Sonoma County where he led the development of the county’s first strategic plan that guided multiple successful initiatives, including: addressing an immense OPEB unfunded liability, creating their first Criminal Justice Master Plan, and initiating a new approach for investing in “upstream” programs to prevent more expensive “downstream” criminal justice and human services costs. He also designed, negotiated and implemented a new compensation system for 5,000 employees.
In 1996, Mr. Deis became the third City Manager in Shoreline, WA as they just celebrated their first anniversary as a city. He inherited a chaotic environment, but within four years formed a completely new management team, a budget with substantial reserves, a well-funded capital improvement program, a new general plan, and new operating policies and practices. He designed their first performance management system. Through Mr. Deis’ outreach with stakeholders, they created a new sense of cohesion and pride in a diverse community.
In 1985, Mr. Deis joined the executive team for Washington County that designed and implemented a strategic plan transforming every aspect of the organization and community. His focus was gaining special legislation, managing their fiscal planning and budget processes, and garnering voter approval for multiple unique revenue measures. He helped design and implement custom approaches to addressing needs of a county that provided services to both urban and rural communities. He also spearheaded a unique performance management system and new compensation system that supported the new values of senior management.
PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS
Mr. Deis has made presentations at the New York Federal Reserve Bank at the invitation of the Volcker Institute, the International City/County Manager’s Association (ICMA) conference, at many League of CA Cities annual conferences, the annual CA Public Employers Labor Relations Association (CALPELRA) conference, the USC Price School of Public Policy and Lafayette College. He covered topics such as: strategies to avoid fiscal distress, what do City Managers need from their Human Resources Directors, transforming cities during fiscal crises, paradigm shifts in performance management and compensation systems, how cities can recover from bankruptcy and strategies for City Managers during stressful times and the building blocks of good governance and high performance for public agencies.
Mr. Deis has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, Public Administration Review and Bond Buyer.