William Lindsay, MBA 80

City Manager
Richmond, CA

Few insiders at Richmond's dowdy City Hall thought newly hired City Manager William (Bill) Lindsay, MBA 80, would stick around long. After all, he had degrees from Yale and Haas and had just finished a successful run as city manager of upscale Orinda. And Richmond had many serious problems.


The insiders were wrong. Five years later, Lindsay is still on the
job, City Hall and the surrounding Civic Center sparkle after a $100 million facelift, and the city's finances—deeply in the red when he arrived—are on an even keel, despite the recession.


Lindsay says the job represents the fulfillment of a longtime commitment to public service: "I came here wanting to grow personally and professionally, and I felt I had something to give."


It hasn't been easy. Richmond is plagued with violent crime, a 17 percent unemployment rate, and now Chevron is threatening to close its sprawling refinery, the city's largest employer and the source of about 25 percent of its revenue.


Meanwhile, a double-digit decline in Richmond's sales and property revenue due to the recession prompted a response that illustrates Lindsay's management skills as well as his values. Rather than slash and burn the city's workforce, Lindsay adroitly cut 50 taxfunded positions through attrition, retirement incentives, and position transfers into fee-based and grant-funded areas, while laying off only five people. Still, he calls the reduction in force a "terrible event."


Lindsay, who earned a degree in economics from Yale, got a taste of the private sector while working as a consultant. But public service was his goal as far back as his high school days in Walnut Creek. After working in various city management positions in East Bay cities, he spent 10 years as Orinda's city manager before heading to Richmond in 2005.


Lindsay didn't study city management at Haas—it isn't offered— but knew that management principles could be applied to the public sector: "I use those tools—accounting, finance, organizational development— everyday." His plans for the future? "Right here," he says. "I'm doing what I always wanted to do."

– Bill Snyder

"Feature Stories" - Table of Contents

[Top of page]