Top Sacramento County administrator, who worked to reform ‘toxic’ workplace, will retire

Lezlie Sterling/

Sacramento County Executive Ann Edwards on Thursday announced she will retire early next year, ending a more than two-year tenure that county officials said was marked by several changes to its government’s structure.

A news release announcing Edwards departure said her retirement will be effective Jan. 26, and that an interim county executive will be announced at another date.

The county’s statement also praised Edwards, who was the first woman to occupy the role, for bringing stability and transparency.

“Together with the County’s 13,000 employees, it has been a privilege to serve people and watch our communities thrive,” Edwards said in the prepared statement. “Now it’s time for me to take a step back, do some traveling and enjoy more time with my family, especially my three wonderful grandchildren.”

Edwards first moved into the role as “acting” county CEO in December 2020, after her predecessor Navdeep Gill was placed on paid leave; the county launched an investigation in late 2020 into claims Gill harassed employees and created a toxic culture. Gill was later cleared of discrimination charges, though an independent investigation did report he was a “bully.”

Gill retired in February 2021 after three supervisors said they didn’t have confidence in his leadership abilities and the county public health officer signed a letter saying he created a “toxic culture rife with sexism, intimidation, racism, and a blatant disregard for public health,” The Sacramento Bee reported at the time.

Edwards, who was appointed full-time county executive in September 2021, is credited with proposing a community engagement plan during last year’s budgeting process. It created surveys to help gauge the public’s budget priorities and find high priorities for different stakeholders, the county news release said.

Supervisors also approved a new public safety and justice agency during Edwards’ tenure, which sought to ensure oversight and accountability for public safety agencies in the county, the news release said. And she helped launch an employee academy that aimed to change the county’s culture.

District 3 Supervisor Rich Desmond, the board’s chair, also commended Edwards’ abilities.

“Ann took on significant responsibilities during a critical period in our County’s history when she began her tenure in 2020,” Desmond said in a statement. “I speak on behalf of the entire Board when I say that Ann’s steady leadership and unwavering commitment to the well-being of the County’s organization and residents was instrumental in navigating the challenges we faced.”

Edwards worked as Sacramento County’s director of human assistance prior to assuming her post. She had a brief stint as Solano County’s director of social services.

“I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for the incredible leadership team that has stood by my side throughout this journey,” Edwards said in her statement. “Together, we have tackled numerous challenges and worked tirelessly to make our county a better place for all its residents. Their efforts have not only made my tenure as County Executive successful but have also positively impacted the lives of countless individuals.”