ALBANY -- The city has selected longtime Recreation and Community Services Director Penelope Leach to replace Beth Pollard as city manager. A deal has not been finalized, but the two sides are working on negotiating a contract.

Leach said she hopes to have a contract finalized by the City Council's Dec. 2 meeting, which would allow a formal vote to take place at the Dec. 16 meeting. Her exact start date will be part of the negotiations.

Leach, 50, has been working for the city for slightly more than six years. She said her career in local government dates back to working as a lifeguard in high school.

"I love Albany," she said. "I feel like I had wonderful mentorship with Beth Pollard."

Leach added that she wasn't looking to move up to city manager.

"It was because the position in Albany opened up," she said. "I wasn't seeking city managership anywhere, it was because I wanted to do it here."

City clerk Nicole Almaguer said Leach brings energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the city.

"Penelope holds a wealth of experience in local government," Almaguer said. "She has worked on a number of challenging projects in Albany, including park retrofit projects, Pierce Street Park planning, the Albany Bulb Transition Plan and economic development."

Leach is the mother of two grown children and lives in San Ramon. She graduated from San Ramon Valley High School and earned a bachelor's degree in human resource management from Cal State Hayward.

She earned her master's degree in public administration with an emphasis on organizational change from the same institution.

Pollard retired in August after 12 years as city manager. She was replaced on an interim basis by Patrick O'Keefe, the former Emeryville city manager.