In Memoriam, William “Bill” Chiat
CSAC Institute Dean
July 16, 2020
The County Family lost one of its biggest champions last week with the unexpected death of William “Bill” Chiat. For 12 years, Bill served as Dean of the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government, bringing life to CSAC’s vision of a continuing education program designed specifically for county officials.
Helping to fulfill a goal of CSAC to create a professional development suite for new and experienced California County elected officials, executives and senior staff, Bill played an integral leading role in founding the CSAC Institute For Excellence in County Government in 2008. From its inception, Bill helped shape a vision for the Institute, shepherding the launch of the first course, The Art & Practice of Elected Leadership on February 12, 2009. Bill played an instrumental role in the development of the Credential and Fellow programs and the expansion of the Institute to five regional campuses that provided professional development opportunities for county officials and staff throughout the state. Tens of thousands of individuals have taken advantage of this opportunity to help them better serve their residents.
Under Bill’s direction, the CSAC Institute is now considered the premier continuing education program for county officials in the country.
Most recently, Bill was involved with guiding the Institute, now operated by the California Counties Foundation, Inc., to online learning and the COVID-19 Pandemic Leadership Resource Center with on-demand webinars and a host of curated articles.
Over the course of his tenure, Bill touched the lives of countless Institute class attendees, but most significantly the 86 Institute Fellows, 49 Supervisor Credential Recipients, 741 County Senior Executive Credential Recipients and 167 IT Credential Recipients who have completed advanced course work via the Institute.
A gifted facilitator and educator, Bill helped organizations and communities alike navigate discussions of complex and difficult issues. A results-oriented project manager with a specialty in interdepartmental and intergovernmental projects, Bill was also a trusted coach and mentor to elected officials, board members and executive staff. His unique combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and enthusiasm will be deeply missed.
Bill was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and held a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan. An International City/County Management Association Credentialed Manager, Bill also graduated from the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program and the Leadership Practices Program from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Bill was Director of Alta Mesa Group, LLC where he served as a facilitator and organizational and executive leadership development consultant for local governments. Prior to the CSAC Institute, Bill held numerous senior staff positions, including serving in Napa and Santa Barbara Counties as well as the Arizona Governor’s Office.
The CSAC Team, all 58 California Counties and communities throughout the State are in a much better place today because of Bill’s immeasurable contributions to county government and his superb commitment to excellence. Bill will be dearly missed but his legacy will live forever through the many of us who knew him or had the opportunity to learn from him.
A private service was held earlier this week. Bill is survived by his husband Jim and extended family. Condolences may be sent to James Gladfelter, 324 Alta Mesa Circle, Napa, CA 94558. Additionally, the William S. Chiat If Given A Chance Scholarship Fund for extraordinary youth has recently been established in Bill’s memory. Learn more about If Given a Chance here. Contributions, noting the William Chiat scholarship designation, may be sent to If Given a Chance, PO Box 2607, Napa, CA 94558.
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