Mayor Frey taps Lee Sheehy to lead transition for new Community Safety Commissioner

August 18, 2023

Mayor Jacob Frey has named City of Minneapolis interim Deputy City Operations Officer Lee Sheehy as Interim Community Safety Commissioner to help lead the upcoming transition and planning for a new commissioner. Sheehy, who previously served as Director of the Region and Communities Program for the McKnight Foundation, has agreed to take on the role on an interim basis, effective Saturday, September 2.

As a skilled administrator with decades of experience in private, philanthropic, and government sectors, Sheehy will facilitate and lead an organizational analysis of the Office of Community Safety and create a transition plan for the next commissioner. Sheehy will not seek consideration for the permanent role but, rather, will help create a bridge for the incoming hire. 

"For years, when elected leaders need support navigating complex challenges, they’ve turned to Lee Sheehy for guidance,” said Frey. “That’s no accident. Lee’s career has been defined by leadership, compassion, service, and creative problem-solving. I could not be more grateful for his willingness to again answer the call to serve and help move Minneapolis into its next chapter of community safety work.”  

“I am honored by the opportunity to serve the City of Minneapolis as interim Community Safety Commissioner,” said Sheehy. “Public Service in a city which has been my home for over 40 years is humbling and motivating.”   

In mid-July, Commissioner Cedric Alexander announced his intent to retire from public service with a final date of employment on September 1, 2023. The transition from Commissioner Alexander to his successor presents an opportunity to continue redefining both the Community Safety Commissioner role as well as the relatively new Office of Community Safety.  

Over the last month, Mayor Frey has connected with dozens of internal and external stakeholders including Council Leadership and Council Members, community members, elected leaders, jurisdictional partners, and City leadership to collect feedback around qualifications, experiences, and challenges associated with the role as he considers a nominee for the permanent position. That feedback is reflected in the updated job description and will be used as Sheehy builds out a transition plan. 

Mayor Frey may announce a nominee for the next Community Safety Commissioner as soon as early September. The mayor’s nomination will be subject to confirmation by the City Council. 

Lee Sheehy background 

Prior to working for the McKnight Foundation, Sheehy served as chief of staff for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; Director of the City’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department, overseeing planning and development functions; regional administrator of the Metropolitan Council, directing the council’s planning, transit and wastewater functions; and chief deputy to Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey and Interim Deputy Hennepin County Attorney. 

Sheehy has also previously held leadership roles within Governor Dayton’s administration such as the Chair of Governor Dayton’s Judicial Selection Committee and the Co-Chair of Governor Dayton’s Transition work. Sheehy received his B.A. from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his law degree from the University of Minnesota.