The changes will continue to strengthen the City’s focus on improving the services provided to residents.
City of Austin Interim City Manager Jesús Garza announced several key leadership appointments on Friday, June 8, including industry veteran Bob Kahn as Austin Energy’s next General Manager.
“Since returning to this organization in February, I have spent considerable time assessing the strengths of our organization and identified opportunities to reorganize to ensure we are operating cohesively, effectively and efficiently,” Garza said. “I am confident the changes announced today will strengthen the City of Austin as we continually work to improve the services we provide to our residents.”
Kahn is a respected leader in the utility industry, currently serving as the General Manager of the Texas Municipal Power Agency. He was formerly the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and prior to that served as the Deputy General Manager, General Counsel and Vice President for Legal Services at Austin Energy. His first day as General Manager will be July 3.
“I’m very excited to return to Austin Energy and look forward to working with the community and the hardworking, dedicated staff at Austin Energy to accomplish the City Council’s goals,” Kahn said.
Other leadership changes include:
Ken Snipes will serve as Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, effective June 19. Snipes previously served as Austin Resource Recovery Director since October 2019. Prior to joining the City of Austin, Snipes held leadership positions at Seattle Public Utilities, including Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Solid Waste Services, Facility Operations Manager, Water Operations Director, Citywide Homelessness Operations Director and Interim Chief Financial Officer. Before his time in local government, Snipes served in the United States Air Force for nearly 21 years.
José Roig has been named Director of the Development Services Department. He has been serving as Interim Director since January 2023. During his time as interim, Roig integrated the Code Enforcement functions into the Development Services Department and launched an initiative to analyze the development review and permitting process. Roig brings almost 30 years of building safety experience, including 15 years with the City of Austin and 14 years in the private sector. He began his service with the City of Austin as a commercial building inspector in 2007 and worked his way up to City Building Official in 2016. Before joining the City, he was an inspector in San Antonio, owned a building consultant company, and was an inspector at the Kennedy Space Center.
Michele Middlebrook-Gonzalez will be joining the City of Austin in the newly created position of Chief Strategic Communications & External Relations Officer. Middlebrook-Gonzalez is currently at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas where she serves as communications consultant for one of the insurers’ largest customers. She is a tenured communications professional with strategic communications experience with large non-profit and private sectors organizations.
David Gray, currently Assistant Director in the Economic Development Department, will begin a special assignment focused on the broad spectrum of programs, policies and funding the City dedicates to addressing homelessness. Gray will report to Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard and work in collaboration with the Homeless Strategy Office and all other departments that support the City’s efforts to develop and execute overarching strategies to cohesively advance the community’s work to ensure homelessness in Austin is rare, brief and non-recurring.
“I thank each of these individuals for their commitment to advancing our organization and look forward to working with them,” Garza said. “I continue to extend a heartfelt thank you to all City of Austin employees for their dedication to our organization and community.”