SMC Appoints Elaine Polachek to Executive Vice President Position

Newly-Imagined Role of Chief Operating Officer to Oversee College-Wide Areas

Elaine Polachek—who holds nearly three decades of experience in public administration, including serving as Interim City Manager and Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica—was appointed to the Executive Vice President position at Santa Monica College. Polachek will serve as Chief Operating Officer and report directly to SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. (Image Credit: SadoFoto, courtesy of the City of Santa Monica)

August 2, 2017

SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Elaine Polachek to the position of Executive Vice President. The SMC Board of Trustees unanimously approved Polachek’s appointment at their August 1 meeting.

Polachek—who stepped down from the City of Santa Monica in her most recent role as Assistant City Manager in July 2017—has nearly three decades of experience in public administration. She begins her work at SMC on August 21, and will report directly to Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President. Polachek will take the position at SMC with the title of Interim Executive Vice President.

“Santa Monica College is incredibly fortunate to have Elaine Polachek in this newly-imagined role,” said Dr. Jeffery. “Her recent experience as Chief Operating Officer for the City of Santa Monica—and her immense skill in overseeing complex operational areas—aligns beautifully with her responsibilities at the college. I am confident that her collaborative leadership style will foster greater connections and advancement—both for SMC and for its students and the communities we serve.”

Polachek replaces Jeffery Shimizu, who last held the Executive Vice President role at SMC in October 2016 (Shimizu also previously served as Interim Superintendent/President).

The Executive Vice President role—as Polachek will fulfill it—includes operational oversight of SMC’s Human Resources, Facilities Planning, Business and Administration, Institutional Research, Information Technology, and Grants offices, all areas whose services have college-wide impact.

As Chief Operating Officer, Polachek will also assume responsibility for SMC’s college-wide master planning activities.

Prior to serving as Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica, Polachek’s 28-year career in the city included serving in key leadership roles as Interim City Manager; Deputy City Manager; Director of Community Maintenance; and Operations Manager for the Santa Monica Pier.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Jeffery. Her leadership and vision build upon the success that SMC has already achieved as a preeminent community college,” said Polachek. “I look forward to getting to know the faculty, administrators, and staff of Santa Monica College and supporting their efforts. I admire the work they do—providing first-rate and accessible higher education—and am thrilled at the prospect of working alongside them.”

Polachek added that the role of “facilitator” was one she played at the City and intends to play at the College. “My approach is to foster a collaborative and productive environment. If the people I work with are successful then I’m doing my job well,” she said.

Polachek has received numerous awards in recognition of her leadership and community engagement, including 2016 Woman of the Year for the State of California Assembly District 50; the 2014 John H. Nail Award from the League of California Cities City Managers’ Department; the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Award 2011; and the Women in Leadership Award 1997 from the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Council.

Polachek holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in West Hollywood with her husband Joel and their four cats.

Founded in 1929, Santa Monica College is a two-year community college accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). SMC is the leader among California's 114 community colleges in transfers to the University of California, serving nearly 33,000 students and offering over 90 fields of study; SMC also provides career training, with over 110 degrees and certificates—including a Bachelor of Science degree in Interaction Design—that train students for direct entry into the job market; news and cultural enrichment through its radio station KCRW (89.9 FM) and the Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center; and lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus College for older adults.

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