July 2019 – Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth announced Guillermo Cespedes’ appointment as the first permanent Chief of Violence Prevention for the City of Oakland. After an extensive national recruitment performed by The Hawkins Company, Mr. Cespedes was selected from a highly competitive group of candidates to lead the City’s newly established Department of Violence Prevention. The City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention was created under the leadership of Councilwoman Lynette Gibson-McElhaney to better align, amplify, and elevate Oakland’s violence prevention efforts. The department is charged with transforming the City’s violence prevention efforts into a citywide strategy for non-law enforcement approaches to reduce and sustain violent reduction and serve communities impacted by violence to end the cycle of trauma using a public health approach and community-led strategies.
Mr. Cespedes has been lauded as an expert domestic and international violence prevention practioner and leader with a background in social work, focusing on family systems. Previously serving as the Deputy Mayor/Director of the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD), Mr. Cespedes established transformative programs including the Summer Night Lights Program and, in collaboration with the LAPD, co-developed citywide comprehensive strategies to respond to and reduce future of violent incidents. In addition, Cespedes led the city in establishing evidence based diagnostics and rigorous evaluations of its violence prevention efforts. Most recently, Mr. Cespedes has applied his family systems based, violence prevention program on a global level as part of a violence prevention program funded by USAID, in several countries with the highest rate of gang related homicides and violent extremist groups.
Mr. Cespedes said, “I am honored and very excited to return to Oakland to join professional colleagues, community advocates, and elected officials in building a balanced, comprehensive violence prevention strategy. Of course, I will draw on my experience in leading proven efforts domestically and internationally, but Oakland is unique, and it will require building on what is already working, and being honest about what has to be improved.” Mr. Cespedes will start his new position on September 23. The Hawkins Company is looking forward to the significant impacts Mr. Cespedes will make on violence prevention in Oakland.