Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai announced she will retire as top administrative leader of the nation’s largest municipal government in early 2020, capping a 31-year career leading innovation and managing solutions to some of the region’s most challenging issues.
Hamai was appointed CEO in 2015, and oversees a county budget of $36.1 billion and a workforce of nearly 113,000.
Her signature accomplishments include strong fiscal management that led to the county’s overall highest credit ratings ever, including a AAA rating from S&P Global Ratings, the highest level possible. Los Angeles County has achieved a total of four credit upgrades under her leadership.
She also replenished the county’s Rainy Day Fund to cushion the blow of future financial downturns. The fund now stands at $600 million.
As CEO, she has led transformation of the county’s governance structure, creating a coordinated, multi-departmental approach to addressing the Board of Supervisors’ key priorities — homelessness, justice reform, healthcare, immigrants’ rights, environmental monitoring, and the safety and well-being of children — as well as ad hoc initiatives such as sustainability and the Women and Girls Initiative.
She oversaw the launch of the Homeless Initiative, a broad and unprecedented response to the region’s homelessness crisis, and led implementation of the voter-approved Measure H, which since 2017 has helped move more than 16,000 individuals and families into permanent housing and 31,837 enter crisis, bridge or interim housing.
“It’s been the greatest honor of my life to serve Los Angeles County and its residents,” Hamai said. “The county confronts some of society’s toughest issues every day, often on behalf of people who have nowhere else to turn.
“I believe I am leaving the county in better shape than when I started. Our fiscal foundation is strong, and our departments have broken out of their silos and are working together in ways no one could have imagined in years past. I learned early in my career, through programs I led such as the multi-agency Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, that cross-collaboration is absolutely essential to making an impact.
“Clearly, there is plenty of hard work ahead — especially in the area of homelessness — but I am proud to have moved the county forward and positioned it to meet current and future challenges.”
Hamai, the first Asian American woman to serve as L.A. County’s CEO, has championed advancement and leadership opportunities for county employees throughout her career. In 2017, she co-founded WomenLeadLAC as a forum for up-and-coming managers to network with top executives.
She began her county career shortly after graduating from Colorado State University in 1988, moving up through the ranks of departments including Auditor-Controller and Health Services before being named the executive officer for the Board of Supervisors in 2006, interim chief executive officer in 2014, and CEO in 2015.
In 2019, Hamai was named one of L.A.’s Top 500 most influential leaders for the fourth consecutive year by Los Angeles Business Journal. Most recently, Innovate@UCLA announced Hamai as its unanimous choice to receive the 2019 Public Sector Executive Leadership Award. She is also the 2018 winner of the Clarence A. Dykstra Award for Excellence in Government.
She serves on the board of United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.
Hamai is a nature enthusiast who hikes frequently with her canine companion, Oreo. She is also an ardent distance runner, having completed her first marathon in 1997 and achieved her personal best in the 2015 Tokyo Marathon.
Her retirement will take effect in early 2020, to allow time for the Board of Supervisors to select a successor.
“I’ve had the opportunity of working closely with ten county supervisors, and I deeply respect every single one of them,” Hamai said. “They led by example as they advocated and fought for the constituents they were elected to serve. That commitment inspired me, and the county family, to always reach higher and do more.
“Now I am ready to write the next chapter in my professional life, but my heart will always be in public service, and filled with gratitude by the experiences and opportunities that shaped my career with L.A. County.”