Assistant Chief Executive Officer/Chief Legal Counsel

  • Sonoma County, CA
  • Santa Rosa, California
  • Nov 28, 2021
Full Time Administration and Management Legal Services
  • Salary: $158,996.80 - $193,267.31 Annually USD

Job Description

Position Information

The Sonoma County Employees Retirement Association seeks an Assistant
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Legal Counsel!

Please click here to view our color brochure

Located less than an hour's drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma County combines, in one location, the beautiful Pacific Coastline, award winning wineries, majestic redwoods, historic towns, fine dining, and a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.

Sonoma County is the largest county in the North Bay and is home to over 500,000 residents. Santa Rosa, with a population of over 171,000, is the County seat and center of government, commerce, and medical facilities. It offers a lively downtown with intriguing shops and restaurants as well as a full range of urban amenities. Santa Rosa and the County's seven other incorporated cities each maintain a small-town feel, despite ongoing growth. Excellent health care services are available at several acute care hospitals, a trauma center, and a wide variety of specialty medical facilities. Fine educational institutions, including Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University, and local schools that rank considerably higher on the Academic Performance Index than the state as a whole, further contribute to Sonoma County's exceptional quality of life.

The County of Sonoma is governed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and is comprised of 26 departments/agencies that provide a full range of services to the community through its 4,000+ employees. Sonoma County government has a history of providing excellent and responsive public service while operating under sound fiscal principles. This is achieved in a climate of respect and collaboration.
Please visit and for additional information about Sonoma County, the place to live, work, and build your career legacy.

Sonoma County Employees' Retirement Association (SCERA) is a public employee defined benefit retirement system that was established by the County of Sonoma on January 1, 1946, under the authority of the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937. SCERA is administered by the Board of Retirement (Board) to provide retirement, disability, death, and survivor benefits for eligible employees of the County of Sonoma; Sonoma Valley Fire Authority; the Superior Court of California for the County of Sonoma; and other Sonoma County public agencies.

Under the direction of a ten-member Board, of which one is an alternate member, SCERA Staff manages the day-to-day administration of the system. This includes ensuring timely and accurate payment of benefits, oversight of the investment of trust assets, providing information to and counseling members, accounting for contributions and investment income, maintaining prudent compliance with regulations, policies and procedures, and ensuring the Board is fulfilling its fiduciary duty to the members and their beneficiaries.

The Board sets the policy direction for the system, provides direct oversight of the Chief Executive Officer, approves the investment program's asset allocation in accordance with the system's defined risk parameters, and carries out its fiduciary duties through regular meetings and oversight of the system's operations. The Staff is managed by the Chief Executive Officer who oversees SCERA's Member Services, Finance and Retiree Services, Legal and Administrative Services divisions and, along with the Chief Investment Officer, Investment division.

As of December 31, 2020, SCERA serves 4,090 active members (General 3,368 and Safety 722), 1,445 deferred/transferred members (General 1,217 and Safety 228) and 5,347 retired members (General 4,339 and Safety 1,008), with a fund balance of $3 billion. The asset allocation is:
  • Equities 61%
  • Fixed Income 19%
  • Real Assets 20%
Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer/Chief Legal Counsel provides management oversight for assigned divisions of SCERA, and acts as Chief Legal Counsel to SCERA. This position performs complex, sensitive and varied operational management and professional legal work; advises the Chief Executive Officer and the Board on legal issues arising during public meetings; collaborates with the Chief Executive Officer on the strategic direction of plan operations and governance; performs research, presents legal opinions, training and advice to the Retirement Board, Chief Executive Officer and SCERA staff; and coordinates and oversees the work of outside consultant counsel.

In addition to legal counsel responsibilities, the Assistant CEO/Chief Legal Counsel is responsible for the administration, direction, and supervision of operational division managers and functions related to SCERA, in accordance with the policies and regulations established by Federal and State statutes and the Board of Retirement. This position fosters cooperative working relationships with county departments, intergovernmental and regulatory agencies, and various public and private groups; provides expert professional assistance to the Chief Executive Officer and Retirement Board, and performs other related duties. This position may represent and act on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer as directed or in the CEO's absence.

SCERA seeks an experienced public agency lawyer who thrives in a hands on and collaborative environment to be the next Assistant Chief Executive Officer/Chief Legal Counsel. The ideal candidate will be committed to upholding the fiduciary duty to the members and beneficiaries of SCERA. This person will be able to hit the ground running and quickly gain the confidence and respect of the Board and staff. This person will have experience advising public agencies and understand that legal opinions must be able to be implemented within the administrative realities the agency operates in. Lastly, the selected candidate will be comfortable working in a transparent manner through public meetings and public records requests and embrace opportunities to grow with the SCERA organization in the future.

The top areas of focus for the incoming Assistant Chief Executive Officer/Chief Legal Counsel will be:
  • Learning SCERA operations and engaging with staff to provide thoughtful, well- reasoned legal opinions that take into account the administrative realities of operating a public sector defined benefit pension plan
  • Assisting the CEO in conducting an organizational review to ensure SCERA continues to operate efficiently in all areas (i.e. member services, financial operations, etc.)
  • Examining the procedures that span different divisions to ensure consistency in approach in areas such as trusts, probate and wills
  • Finalizing a Board Resource that provides a comprehensive overview of SCERA for use by trustees

The Civil Service Title for this position is Assistant Retirement Administrator/Chief Legal Counsel.


Minimum Qualifications

Education & Experience: Any combination of education, training, and experience which would likely provide the required knowledge and abilities listed. Normally, this would include possession of a Juris Doctor degree or equivalent from an accredited U.S. law school; and the equivalent of six years of increasingly responsible experience in a comparable legal environment, including at least three years of experience advising a public agency and three years of supervising staff or leading group projects. Litigation experience and public agency pension or law office program management experience are desirable.

License: Current active membership in the State Bar of California is required. Possession of a valid driver's license at the appropriate level including special endorsements, as required by the State of California, may be required depending upon assignment to perform the essential job functions of the position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Thorough knowledge of: Laws relevant to trust fund administration or public agency representation; fiduciary duty; conflicts of interest in relation to the provision of public benefits; and principles, practices, and techniques of administration and office management.

Considerable knowledge of: Laws relevant to investments and investment vehicles, actuarial principles, accounting standards, and California domestic relations law in relation to the provision of public benefits; judicial procedure; trial and hearing procedures and administrative hearing procedure; federal tax law related to the provision of public benefits; information technology principles and applications sufficient to evaluate technical systems and needs; organizational and management practices as applied to the analysis and evaluation of projects, programs, policies, procedures, and operational needs; principles and practices of employee supervision including work planning, assignment, review and evaluation, and the training of staff in work procedures; administrative principles and practices, including supervision of staff, either directly or through subordinate levels of supervision; contract administration; technical, legal, financial, and public relations issues associated with the management of a public agency.

Ability to: Maintain the highest ethical and conduct standards; analyze and understand the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 and the Public Employees' Pension Reform Act; conduct research and analysis, assess alternative solutions and develop and recommend efficient, cost-effective courses of action; plan, organize, integrate and manage legal and operational activities for a defined benefit pension plan; coordinate and supervise the work of subordinate professionals and office support staff; define problems, prepare and present comprehensive statistical and administrative reports in a clear and concise manner; analyze and appraise a variety of documents and instruments; develop and implement appropriate procedures and controls; draft legal documents such as resolutions, contracts, legislation, policies, etc.; present law, facts, and arguments clearly, logically and persuasively in written and oral form; use proper English grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and composition; prepare correspondence and reports; exercise good judgment and make sound decisions; manage and provide leadership to staff; establish and maintain cooperative and harmonious relationships with staff, Board trustees, government officials, legal, medical and investment professionals, and the general public.

Selection Procedure & Some Helpful Tips When Applying

  • Your application information and your responses to the supplemental questions are evaluated and taken into consideration throughout the entire selection process.
  • You should list all employers and positions held within the last ten years in the work history section of your application. Be as thorough as possible when responding to the supplemental questions.
  • You may include history beyond ten years if related to the position for which you are applying. If you held multiple positions with one employer, list out each position separately.
  • Failure to follow these instructions may impact your competitiveness in this process or may result in disqualification.
Please visit Getting a Job with the County of Sonoma to review more detailed information about the application, examination, and department selection processes.


Responses to supplemental questions will be used in assessing minimum qualifications. Please provide specific and detailed responses of a reasonable length to allow for thorough assessment of your qualifications. Responses which state "See Resume" or "See Application" may be considered insufficient.
The selection procedure will consist of the following examination:

An Application & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination (Weight 100%). Each application and supplemental questionnaire will be thoroughly evaluated for satisfaction of minimum qualifications and relevance of educational coursework, training, experience, knowledge, and abilities that relate to this position. Candidates possessing the most appropriate job-related qualifications will be placed on an employment list and referred to the department for selection interviews.


A background investigation is required prior to employment. Candidates referred to departments for a selection interview are typically required to sign authorization and release forms enabling such an investigation. Failure to sign prescribed forms will result in the candidate not being considered further for that vacancy. Reference information will not be made available to applicants.

Additional requirements, such as successful completion of a physical exam, drug screen, etc., may apply, depending on the duties and responsibilities of the position. If you receive a conditional job offer for the position, the requirements upon which the offer are contingent will be outlined in the conditional job letter. You may also review the Job Classification Screening Schedule to determine the requirements for this position.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: As the largest employer in Sonoma County, the Board of Supervisors has adopted a vaccination and testing policy to help mitigate transmission of COVID-19. All County employees will be required to either have documented proof of full COVID-19 vaccination on file or consent to weekly COVID-19 testing.


Applications are accepted on-line at . Paper applications may be submitted by person, fax (707-565-3770), email, or through the mail. All applications and appropriate supplemental information as outlined in the job bulletin must be RECEIVED by the time and date specified on the first page of this job announcement. Continuous recruitments may close without notice at any time that a sufficient number of qualified applications have been received. Applications received after the recruitment closes will not be accepted.

The County of Sonoma values diversity and is dedicated to creating a workplace environment that provides individuals with a sense of belonging. We are committed to having a diverse workforce that is representative of the communities we serve. The County is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer where all aspects of employment are based on merit, competence, performance, and business need.

HR Analyst: JT
HR Technician: RR

Closing Date:Continuous

Job Address

Santa Rosa, California United States View Map