The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will seek to finalize the appointments of Elishia Hayes to the position of Acting County Administrative Officer (CAO) and Luke Brownfield to the position of Acting Public Defender, at their next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 29. Upon final approval, the appointments of both Hayes and Brownfield will be effective July 4.
After hearing from several candidates and meeting in closed session, the board recommended Hayes for the interim position. For the past decade, she has been a key staff member of the Humboldt County Administrative Office and served as Deputy and Assistant County Administrative Officer. Hayes will replace current CAO Amy S. Nilsen, who announced her resignation last month after more than 20 years of service, the last 5 of which have been as CAO.
4th District Humboldt County Supervisor and Board Chair Virginia Bass said Hayes’ financial expertise, vast knowledge of all department operations and experience in the County Administrative Office were key reasons she was recommended by the Board of Supervisors.
“Elishia is ready for a new challenge and the Board of Supervisors is excited to work with her,” said Bass. “Regardless of the interim title, the county faces numerous issues that will require her to pick up where Amy left off, continuing to move the County of Humboldt forward. She is ready to immerse herself in the position and achieve great outcomes. Nilsen’s level of professionalism and knowledge of all things financial set a high bar but I know that Elishia is up to the task at hand.”
Bass said Hayes’ good working relationships with supervisors, department heads and staff are strong attributes that will allow her to do well.
“Humboldt County has and will continue to be on the cutting edge of programs that serve our residents and businesses well, positioning the county well, now and into the future,” said Hayes. “I am very excited to work with each member of our Board of Supervisors and department leadership, who are so passionate about the county, our organization and its residents,”
“Humboldt County is my home and I am honored the Board has confidence in me to lead the organization through this change in leadership,” Hayes said.
Brownfield, a Humboldt County native, started his career in Placer County as a defense attorney for 3 years before moving back to the North Coast where he led the Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) for 5 years with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office. Brownfield then left for the Public Defender’s Office where he has been for 5 years and served as the Assistant Public Defender for the last 3 years. Brownfield is taking over for Marek Reavis, who is retiring at the end of the month.
“I am very grateful to the Board of Supervisors and the people of Humboldt County for this fantastic opportunity to serve our community. Having been born and raised in Humboldt, I have a great respect for the work that is done here by so many,” said Brownfield. “In the years that I have worked at the county level, I have had many mentors and role models. I had the privilege to work at the District Attorney’s Office under Paul Gallegos and Maggie Fleming, both outstanding leaders. I also was able to work under Public Defender, Kevin Robinson, who showed me how a Public Defender office should work. As Marek heads out for his next adventure, I wish him some awesome swells. I look forward to collaborating with all those who serve our legal system here in Humboldt and am excited to get to work.”
Hayes and Brownfield will serve in their interim positions until the Board makes permanent appointments.