I have had the pleasure of working with Jennifer Sparacino for over 15 years, eight of those years as the President and CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau. Whenever there is an issue that impacts the business and tourism industry, Jennifer always reaches out to the Chamber for our input. She understands how important the business community is to the vitality of the City of Santa Clara. She not only understands that the business community needs to flourish, but the City’s infrastructure, parks, schools and City services must also be healthy and supported by the City. This is what she has focused on since taking over as City Manager back in 1987.
Since 1987, the City of Santa Clara has grown in many ways. The population has increased by almost 30,000 and the investment in infrastructure and other capital projects increased by $1.5 billion. Jennifer has overseen hundreds of projects such as construction of the Central Park Library, Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park, the Don Von Raesfeld (DVR) 147 MW electric power plant, renovation and expansion of the Senior Center, establishment of the City’s award-winning Ethics & Values Program, the City’s selection by the National Civic League as an All-America City, and my favorite, the Mission City Ballroom expansion at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Under her leadership, Santa Clara has also maintained the lowest combined utility rates in the nine Bay Area counties. Most recently, she has worked with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority to begin construction of a new stadium for the 49ers football team, under unique and creative long term financing that was completed in March of this year.
In my many visits to City Council meetings, Jennifer would always be sure to thank her hard working City staff for any completed project when presented to the Council and public. Perhaps that is why she attributes her career accomplishments to the hard work of the City departments at every level. “Santa Clara has an outstanding executive team, both current and former, and I have been especially proud to have served with these professionals. The City has dedicated employees in every department and I have been privileged to work with all of them.”
In 2004, Jennifer received the most prestigious award in her professional field for her career achievements. The “Award for Career Excellence in Honor of Mark E. Keane” was presented at the National Conference of ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. In accepting the award, Jennifer said that this was “for the City of Santa Clara, and a reflection of this great community. I am fortunate to work with an excellent Mayor and City Council, both the current and former Mayors and Council Members.”
As the search begins for our next City Manager, the business community and citizens of Santa Clara know that finding a leader like Jennifer Sparacino will be very difficult, but imperative, if we want to continue to see the City of Santa Clara grow and prosper.
Thank you Jennifer Sparacino for all you have done to lead our great City and making it a much better place under your watch.