Assistant City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter has been chosen by Mayor Lee Brand to become Fresno’s new city manager.
She was named Thursday to the top spot in city government, having already served as a deputy city manager.
Quan-Schecter, 43, will be the first woman to hold the top administrative post at Fresno City Hall. She will replace Bruce Rudd, who is wrapping up a 41-year career with the city, the last four as city manager. “I told Mayor Brand we busted through a pretty good glass ceiling here in Fresno today, and I am so thankful for this opportunity,” Quan-Schecter said.
The hire is a crucial one for Brand less than five months into his first term. Rudd had begun to hint at retirement in the months leading up to last November’s election, when Brand was elected to succeed Ashley Swearengin as mayor.
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“I have a really bold plan; it’s not going to be easy,” Brand said. “I have confidence that Wilma will measure up to what I need. I can have the best visions in the world, but if I don’t have a city manager who can implement them, it will go nowhere.”
Brand said he first met Quan-Schecter when he was a planning commissioner and she was a planning consultant, and added that he’s developed great respect for her talents. “She’s a proven leader. … She’s an effective communicator and she’s built strong relationships with everyone she’s come in contact with,” he said. “She has the ability and the energy to implement my vision for Fresno over the next eight years.”
Quan-Schecter’s first official day on the job will be July 10, coinciding with Rudd’s retirement. Rudd will stay on through the rest of the year in a consulting role to help with the administrative transition, Brand said.
Quan-Schecter has worked worked for the city since 2009, starting as a specialist in urban planning with the city’s Downtown and Community Revitalization Department before being promoted first to deputy city manager and later to assistant city manager.
Prior to joining the city, Quan-Schecter worked as a planner for the California Department of Transportation for six years, and then owned a planning consulting business for several years.
Quan-Schecter described growing up in a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “We didn’t have much,” she said. “I grew up in a home directly across the street from the clay factory where my father worked.”
“Many can say they were the first in their family to graduate college, but I can actually say I’m the first in my family to graduate high school,” she added. Quan-Schecter earned her bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania State University and her master’s in business administration from Fresno State. She has lived in Fresno for the past 20 years. Her husband, David Schecter, is a former Fresno State professor of political science who is now the vice provost at California State University, Bakersfield. He is stepfather to the couple’s two sons, ages 16 and 12.
“My family is fantastic and very supportive, and we’re all-in on this for the community,” Quan-Schecter said of the challenges that come with the new job. “I have no doubt in my mind we will be able to juggle and continue to be as close as we are as a family.”
Details of Quan-Schecter’s compensation have yet to be finalized, city spokesman Mark Standriff said Thursday. As assistant city manager, she makes $176,000 a year. Rudd’s 2017 annual base salary is $243,240.
Brand described Thursday’s announcement as a bittersweet event – “introducing an amazing new city manager, but also losing one of the most capable managers in the country.”
Rudd said that Quan-Schecter, in her four years as a deputy and assistant city manager, “has clearly demonstrated that she is ready to lead this team.” He added that her time in the city manager’s office provided an ample training ground to prepare her. “Lord knows I’ve given her enough examples of things not to do,” Rudd added with a chuckle, “so I hope she was paying attention when I stumbled once in a while.”
Brand acknowledged immediately after the November election that the city manager position is critical in the city’s hierarchy because each of the department heads report to the city manager who in turn reports to the mayor. “In our charter, the mayor is the CEO through the city manager, so technically, if (Police Chief) Jerry Dyer leaves, the city manager hires, but realistically it’s going to go through the mayor,” Brand said then.
Rudd, 60, began working for the city as a bus mechanic in the transportation department, rising through the department’s ranks to become manager of the maintenance division and, later, director of the entire department. In 2005, he was named assistant city manager, and when then-City Manager Mark Scott departed Fresno in mid-2013 to take a job in Burbank, Rudd was tapped by Mayor Ashley Swearengin to replace him.