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McCarthy Named Outstanding Leader:

The Santa Monica Commission on the Status of  Women presented its quarterly “Outstanding Woman Leader” award Wednesday night, December 14, to Santa Monica’s just retired City Manager Susan McCarthy.

“The Outstanding Woman Leader” is a quarterly award made for a woman who has demonstrated exceptional personal and/or professional dedication to improving the lives of women and girls in Santa Monica.

“We are honored to present the Commission’s Outstanding Woman Leader award to Susan McCarthy,” said Tia Skulski, Commission chair.     “Not only did Susan run a city which is regarded as a national leader in progressive policies, services for its citizens, travel and tourism, she also set a precedent and outstanding example for women occupying top positions in government, an area where there are traditionally few women.”

As City Manager from 1999-2005, McCarthy was one of a handful of female city managers in the United States.

The Commission credited her with “spearheading the planning of a new civic center, supporting construction of new public facilities, encouraging  funding of new parks and major park improvements, helping to streamline the permitting process, and advocating raising the hotel room tax to strengthen the city’s financial base. Her direction and leadership helped shepherd the City through the economic slump following 9/11.”

McCarthy began her 24-year career on the  City staff  as an Administrative Analyst for the directors of Transportation and Administrative Services in 1975, moved up to Human Resources Administrator in 1976, became the Assistant Director of Administrative Services in 1979, and in 1981 was named the City’s Director of Personnel. 

In 1992, she was made the Director of Community and Cultural Services, prior to becoming Assistant City Manager and then City Manager.

“My alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, assigned The Second Sex as summer reading for 1963’s incoming freshmen and Betty Friedan addressed us that fall,” said Ms. McCarthy. “The world was just beginning to change for women.  It’s great to see men and women working as colleagues today in all fields and it’s worth remembering that it was not always so.   I thank the Commission for the opportunity to reflect on that progress.”

Taking part in the award presentation, City Council member Pam O’Connor said, “Susan has contributed a great many things to Santa Monica over the years, but I think one of her most important – and understated – legacies, which she has demonstrated through her intelligence, skills and competence, is that women can achieve and be successful in executive management without special treatment. This is no small feat, given that men still dominate positions of power in executive management in both the public sector and the corporate world.”

The Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women works to enhance the status of women in the community, through the investigation of, advocacy for and policy development regarding issues relevant to women and girls, and by creating leadership and career advancement opportunities for women and girls in the community. For more information about the Commission and its current priorities/activities, please go to

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