After a four-month nation-wide search, the City of Port Coquitlam has hired its new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) from within the organization.
Kristen Dixon, the City’s current Director of Engineering & Public Works, starts as CAO on July 30, replacing the current CAO John Leeburn, who announced his resignation earlier this year.
Dixon has been part of the City’s senior management team for the past four years and brings 13 years of municipal government experience to her new role. Prior to Port Coquitlam, she worked with the City of Kamloops as the Streets and Capital Projects Manager. (See below for biography).
“While we considered a number of outstanding external candidates for the job, Council has been very pleased with the direction we’ve been moving in over the last few years with our great team of staff,” said Mayor Greg Moore. “Kristen has been a lead in that work and has proven her exemplary leadership skills over and over again. She understands our organization and our community, and has the right energy to continue to move us forward.”
As the city’s most senior staff member, the CAO provides professional advice and works with Mayor and Council to establish the city’s vision, plans and priorities. The CAO also provides strategic direction and organizational leadership to all City departments and staff.
The City undertook a comprehensive recruitment process, which attracted 50 applicants from across the country. Shortlisted candidates were interviewed and completed third-party psychometric testing to assess cognitive ability and personality traits.
Ultimately, Moore said, “Council decided that Dixon offered the right mix of experience, leadership skills, work ethic and personality to continue to build the success we’ve had as an organization.”
During her four years with the city, Kristen has been the lead on a number of city projects, including: planning and construction of the new $132 million Community Recreation Complex, working with the Finance Department to re-design the City’s budget process and introduce a new capital projects budget, participating on the bargaining committee and labour management committee, and overseeing the redevelopment of the new Blakeburn Lagoons Park.
“I’m very excited to be taking on this new role with the city,” said Kristen Dixon. “As a resident of this beautiful community, I have a strong understanding of what is important to our taxpayers, businesses and residents. As an employee, I have a solid understanding of what is important to our staff and look forward to making our community thrive.”
Council was directly involved in hiring the new CAO, working with the Human Resources Division to conduct the search and then making the final decision on the candidate selection. With Dixon moving into the CAO position, the city will be launching a national search for a new Director of Engineering & Public Works in the coming weeks.
Port Coquitlam will be the sixth of 21 Metro Vancouver municipalities to select a woman to lead its administration, joining the City of New Westminster, the District of West Vancouver and the Villages of Anmore, Belcarra and Bowen Island, along with Metro Vancouver.
Biography: KRISTEN DIXON
Kristen Dixon has been part of the senior management team at the City of Port Coquitlam for four years and brings 13 years of progressive municipal government experience to her new role as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. She has thorough knowledge of all facets of municipal operations, specializing in engineering, public works, planning and development, and financial management.
Her work and experience in her current position as Director of Engineering & Public Works included:
- Providing overall management and leadership to Engineering & Public Works Department.
- Managing annual department budgets exceeding $27 million as well as the capital program.
- Leading the planning and construction of the new $132 million Community Recreation Complex.
- Providing professional advice to Council and implementing Council’s strategic direction and priorities.
- Serving as acting CAO.
- Working with the Finance Department to re-design the city’s annual budget documents and business planning processes, including developing the new capital plan.
- Representing the city on the bargaining committee and labour management committee.
- Being a key player in preparing and negotiating a servicing agreement with the Kwikwetlem First Nations.
- Developing and implementing continuous improvement assessments (in-depth service reviews).
- Serving as alternate Emergency Operations Centre Director and Operations Chief.
- Representing the City at the Regional Engineering Advisory Committee.
Prior to Port Coquitlam, Dixon worked with the City of Kamloops as the Streets and Capital Projects Manager for four years. Her responsibilities included:
- Providing overall management and leadership for 65 department staff as well as playing an integral role in the Public Works and Utilities management team.
- Being directly responsible for effective planning, design and construction for the annual capital improvement program including large-scale projects.
- Preparing and administering a $7.5 million operating budget.
- Liaising with internal and external agencies, organizations, the media and the public.
- Developing construction specifications and procedures to ensure construction was done consistently and to the highest quality to bring best value to taxpayers.
Dixon received a Master of Business Administration degree in 2009 from the University of British Columbia and a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Alberta in 2005.
Her volunteer work and personal interests include:
- Registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC.
- Municipal Administrative Training Institute Mentor and completed The Successful CAO and Leadership courses.
- Public Works Association – Women in Public Works Keynote Speaker, 2017.
- Past Director, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, Municipal Engineers Division.
- Enjoys being outdoors and running with her dog Sophie.
Port Coquitlam looked far and wide for four months to find a new city manager but ended not having to look too far. The city has hired Kristen Dixon as its chief administrative officer. Davis is the city’s current director of engineering and public works.