Melodye Serino, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer
Santa Cruz County
August 30, 2021
Who is your hero?
Heroes are all around us. For example, my 19-year-old nieces as they find their path determining how to live their lives and contribute in a world of great challenges. The lady who put up a neighborhood food pantry box, the County worker who comforts and aides a child or adult going through trauma, the firefighters battling our constant wildfires, my boss whose integrity is unwavering, a colleague who can always ask us to consider the hard questions about equity when making decisions. There are always people we can respect, admire and emulate in ways both large and small.
Is your glass half-full, or half-empty?
More often than not, it is overflowing ;-)
What motivated you to enter public service?
My parents were first-generation Americans who revered the democratic values of the U.S. They instilled in me the need to be involved and active in public service and community life if you wanted to make a difference in the world. Plus, as a child of the ‘60s, I really bought into Kennedy’s line about either being a part of the problem or a part of the solution.
What motivates you to work hard?
Commitment, compassion, colleagues, and change. A committed belief in the values of public service and our County; compassion for my fellow humans as we all stumble through our lives, falling and rising again; my colleagues, who are smart and work so hard to deliver on the needs of the community despite resource constraints of all types; and the knowledge that change only happens when we participate in creating it.
Do you have any words of advice for someone interested in becoming a Deputy CAO?
Our work is a constant experiment in problem-solving. You need to have a varied skill set from communication and negotiation skills to knowing when to delegate. Be adaptive and willing to take risks and be a relentless learner. There are tough decisions to be made and there are always trade-offs and compromises so be sure you know what you stand for and be willing to stand up for those whose voices get left out. Be patient in listening and vigorous in taking action once a decision is made. Most importantly – love and appreciate your team.