West Hollywood’s City Hall staff said goodbye to one of its most beloved employees Thursday as Elizabeth Savage retired.
A 22-year employee, Savage started with the city as an administrative assistant and rose through the ranks to become the city’s director of Human Services and Rent Stabilization, one of the largest departments in City Hall.
During a goodbye ceremony on Thursday afternoon, City Manager Paul Arevalo noted Savage was “way overqualified” for an administrative assistant position when he hired her in 1995. However, he now considers her to be his “big sister” and will miss the fact that she freely spoke up when she disagreed with his decisions.
During her goodbye speech, Savage thanked her fellow employees for the “wonderful experiences” she has had in West Hollywood and the dedicated work they do providing social services, rent stabilization and housing to the residents.
“Together we are accomplishing the goals of social progress that were hoped for so long ago,” Savage said. “This is accomplished by the hard work of the human services and rent stabilization managers and everyone in the human services and rent stabilization department. I believe we have made great contributions to the progressive goals on which this city was founded and I know we must go forward with this work.”
Savage was named director of Human Services and Rent Stabilization in late 2013 and received the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing Bright Lights award in 2014.
During her tenure, Savage recognized that many of the city’s residents were aging but also wanted to stay in the community they loved as they grew older. Consequently, she spearheaded West Hollywood’s Aging in Place/Aging in Community strategic plan, which won the 2017 American Planning Association Social Change and Diversity Award.
Councilmember Lindsey Horvath noted that Savage “put us on the map for being a leader in this field [of Aging in Place].”
Thanks to Savage, the city become a member of the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities and the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Additionally, Savage, who holds an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at the Claremont Graduate University, with emphasis in strategy and leadership, worked hard on the city’s affordable housing and inclusionary housing programs to make sure at least a portion of the residents were not priced out by skyrocketing West Hollywood rents.
Councilmember Lauren Meister noted Savage’s work on the Well WeHo program promoting health and wellness for residents.
In retirement, Savage plans to volunteer her services at City of Hope as well as continue in a volunteer capacity with the Los Angeles Area Aging Advocacy Coalition.
As part of the goodbye ceremony, city staff created a special poster for the event, reading “Savage Sails Forward.” Corey Roskin of the city’s human services division sang her a special goodbye song, “If I Were a Savage,” a loving parody of “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof.