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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 4:22 PM

click to enlarge 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,


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.



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.



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.



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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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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