Gavin's Working Vacation: Department Head Announces Sudden Departure at Mayor's Behest

Categories: Politics
Margaret Brodkin1.JPG
Rumors have been swirling about the imminent departure of  Margaret Brodkin, the head of San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth & Their Families, since late last year. Turns out they were true.

Mayor Gavin Newsom's press office sent out a release announcing Brodkin's departure (and the elevation of her deputy, Maria Su to "acting director") at 1:40 p.m. Brodkin sent a letter to her friends and associates at 2:15 -- indicating Newsom may well have axed her today, during his trip to Davos, Switzerland (which would make him the only person there getting any work done, regardless of whether it's good work).

A source I spoke to within the progressive community said that Brodkin didn't win points with Newsom because she was more loyal to her department's mission (i.e., helping kids) than falling in line with the mayor's every last wish. She also may have "defended the department too much in terms of budget negotiations" and "privately criticized the mayor over cuts to her department."

For what it's worth, the hot rumor now is that Hydra Mendoza, the mayor's education adviser, is potentially in line to take the job.

Brodkin's farewell e-mail is reprinted after the break.

Dearest Colleagues,

Although he has praised my service and called me a "superstar," Mayor Newsom has asked me to leave DCYF. Today will be my last day as Director. I am disappointed to be unable to complete the work that I have begun, but I leave behind a talented and dedicated DCYF staff, a broad network of wonderful partners, and many exciting projects in the works. I hope DCYF will continue to thrive.
Working in government is an awesome privilege and responsibility. I am grateful for having had this opportunity to serve. I have learned so much. There certainly have been times when I have wondered why we put so many requirements into the Children's Fund legislation! Who knew back then that I would some day have the responsibility of actually managing all that accountability and community outreach that I wrote as an advocate? In addition to all else, it's been great fun trying to live up to those standards and ensuring that the City Charter is followed.
Everyone who knows me knows how much I have loved leading this department for four years. Along with our community partners, the staff has been a family. I believe that together we have made DCYF a little gem of a department that is a model of productivity, creativity, and partnership among city agencies. I have especially loved cultivating a climate of collaboration between a city department and community organizations.
I have been extremely touched by the level of support for my leadership that has been expressed in recent weeks. I know I will always find a way to continue the important work of serving the children, youth, and families of this wonderful city. I will be staying with the administration as the Director of the New Day for Learning Initiative. This challenging project, aimed at galvanizing the entire city to create a more just and comprehensive educational system for young people, will allow me to build on work that I started at DCYF and continue so many of the relationships that I have developed over the past 30 years.
Let's stay in touch. ... It's a great field that we have chosen. I have always said that the people who work with and for children are the best. Thank you so very, very much for making my tenure at DCYF so exciting and rewarding. You all rock!
Margaret Brodkin, MSW
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