RIVERSIDE – Riverside County Executive Officer Jay Orr will retire at the end of August, five years after taking over as the county’s top administrator.
Orr helped navigate Riverside County through tail end of the nation’s worst recession in more than half a century and into a slow recovery beset by new and unexpected fiscal challenges. He marked his tenure by raising wellness and health care to the fore of the county’s agenda and leaves after 34 years in public service, having held positions in Riverside County that include assistant district attorney, code enforcement director and deputy public defender.
Orr said he wants to spend more time with family, pursue new challenges and enjoy hobbies that include playing guitar, collecting pens and golf.
“I’ve had a dream career,” he said. “I have been a prosecutor, defense attorney, teacher, attended the U.S. Naval Academy and more. How many people get to serve our community in so many different ways?”
Orr thanked members of the board of supervisors, whom he notified about his retirement April 18, for their trust and support. His platform as executive officer included increasing county efficiency through technology, improving wellness and health care countywide and spurring economic development. He will retire Aug. 31.
Board of Supervisors Chairman John Tavaglione praised the leadership and stability Orr brought the county at the end of the recession and during the subsequent slow recovery.
“At the same time, he introduced innovative and cost-saving ideas that will place county agencies on solid financial footing for decades,” Tavaglione said. “Our board wishes Jay nothing but the best as he enters the next and exciting chapter of his professional career.”
Orr’s initiatives included efforts to create an integrated health-care network in the Inland Empire to make health care more affordable and available throughout the community. In concert with the Claremont Graduate University and other partners, the county also developed a diabetes screening program focused on residents in Jurupa Valley and Perris. The project conducted screenings for diabetes and other chronic diseases and intervention at the individual, family, school and community level.
He pushed to consolidate the county’s information technology functions and will be leaving as the county strives to implement greater use of data-driven decisions aimed at streamlining operations and reducing costs. He also oversaw the financial rebound of Riverside University Health Systems Medical Center, formerly Riverside County Regional Medical Center, which had been losing $1 million a week.
A timetable and process for choosing Orr’s successor has not yet been established.
Orr earned a doctor of jurisprudence from the Ventura College of Law; his California secondary teaching credential from the University of California Santa Barbara’s Graduate School of Education; a bachelor’s degree in political science at UCSB and attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Orr lives in Corona with his wife and has three adult children.