Community & Cultural Services Director Barbara Stinchfield, pictured her at the grand opening of the Annenberg Community Beach House in 2009, announced her retirement Monday after 31 years at City Hall. (photo by Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

CITY HALL — After 31 years of service to the residents of Santa Monica, Community & Cultural Services Director Barbara Stinchfield is retiring, city officials said Monday.

Stinchfield, who oversees an operating budget of $47 million and a staff of approximately 400 full- and part-time employees, will step down from her post on Dec. 29.

“Barbara has been instrumental in more than a decade of improvements to the city’s parks, open spaces and public facilities and has nurtured the growth of the city’s human services and cultural arts programs,” City Manager Rod Gould said in a statement released to the media. “Her legacy is extensive and the impact of her leadership will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for decades to come.”

During her 14 years as the director of the department, Stinchfield oversaw the development and implementation of the city’s first Parks & Recreation Master Plan that has resulted in changes to the city’s parks and recreational facilities throughout the city — most recently the creation of the Annenberg Community Beach House.

The Community & Cultural Services Department, which oversees the city’s recreational facilities, culture and arts programs, human services, public landscaping and funding for nonprofits, has received numerous regional and national awards for design excellence in its capital improvement projects and community programming, city officials said.

“Working with this community has been the opportunity of a lifetime — to participate in the civic life of one of the most incredible cities in the country,” Stinchfield said. “As I advanced through the organization, I marveled at what each opportunity gave to me and, in return, what I could give to the city.

 “There is never an optimal time to leave,” she added, “however, I am leaving at a time when some major project milestones have been achieved. I have every confidence that the projects, programs and services that are so valued by the community and the City Council will continue to be of the highest quality.”

Stinchfield will depart as the city begins construction of two new parks in the heart of the Civic Center, following a comprehensive public design process performed under her direction. Both Gould and Stinchfield stressed that the strength and competence of the current city management team will ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.

Prior to becoming director in 1997, Stinchfield served the city as human services grants coordinator, manager of community and neighborhood services and assistant director of the department. Stinchfield has served on the National Board of Trustees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Human Services Officials and has professional affiliations including the American Society of Landscape Architects, the City Parks Alliance and the California Preservation Foundation.

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