L.A. official to join Pomona College

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles’ chief financial analyst, a widely respected City Hall figure who is keeping watch over a troubling municipal budget deficit, plans to leave her post to become vice president and treasurer of her alma mater, Pomona College.

City Administrative Officer Karen Sisson, 50, said she will remain at City Hall through the end of the current fiscal year, finishing a budget that has required $155 million in cuts through June 30.

Sisson will be missing when city leaders take up next year’s budget, which is already $400 million in the hole. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he would appoint his former deputy chief of staff, Marcus Allen, to replace her; Allen also served as chief deputy to City Controller Laura Chick and worked most recently as a private public affairs consultant.

Sisson, a 1979 Pomona College graduate, said she did not seek the job but was recruited by a consultant. She said she looks forward to the change.

“It’s an institution I’ve been engaged in for 30 years,” Sisson said. “I never really left that campus.”


Sisson has worked in city government for 14 years. She spent nine of them as chief financial officer for the agency that oversees the city’s airports before Villaraigosa named her deputy mayor for finance and performance management in July 2005. She took over the chief administrative officer’s job in December 2006 when her predecessor retired.

Sisson is the first woman to hold that post, which is the highest-ranking non-elected position in city government. On Tuesday, Villaraigosa praised her as a “consensus builder” who has “the highest integrity.”

Sisson’s last two jobs put the soft-spoken financial analyst in a demanding public role that required her to work long hours and parse her words carefully with reporters and city officials.

The Pomona College Board of Trustees confirmed Sisson’s appointment Tuesday. College President David W. Oxtoby said Sisson stood out as a “strategic thinker, a big-picture person, someone who works well in a very complex organization.”

Sisson will be responsible for managing an operating budget of more than $130 million and an endowment of more than $1.7 billion.