How long have you been a FCCMA member and why did you join?
When I was in one of my final classes working toward my Masters in Public Administration at UCF in 2003, the professor, Dr. Evan Berman, told us that one of the steps we should take toward building a career in local government was to join both ICMA and FCCMA. So initially, I joined because of that professor’s recommendation.
Are you an ICMA member, why did you join, and how long have you been a member?
Same answer as above.
Please describe your areas of formal/advanced education (if applicable).
I have a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Florida International University and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida.
Why did you select a career in public service?
When I was growing up, I remember being curious about things in my neighborhood…how the sidewalks were put in, what a manhole cover was for, why we had street lights, etc. As I finished high school and transitioned to my undergraduate program, I found that I enjoyed learning about history and government, so a major in political science fit naturally, even though I truly had no idea what I would do with the degree. I briefly contemplated law but that didn’t seem to fit, so I planned to work toward a master’s degree in political studies. But my path took a turn when my family moved to the City of Palm Bay in Brevard County and I contacted UCF to learn more about their political science program. I found out they had an entire program based in Brevard County, but it was public administration, not political science. Up to that point, I really had no concept of what studying public administration was all about. But the more I learned about it, the more it became clear to me that public administration would allow me to engage with my community in a practical and tangible way that would allow me to make a difference and leave a lasting legacy.
Have you always been in the public sector or have you had experience in the private sector?
I have worked briefly in the private sector, but the vast majority of my career has been in the public sector.
Please tell us about your current position and give a brief job description if you are not a City Administrator/Manager.
I am currently serving as Assistant City Manager in the City of Satellite Beach. I also serve in the dual capacity of Support Services Director, overseeing the staff and functions of Finance/Budgeting, Human Resources, and Information Technology.
Please describe your typical day.
As an Assistant City Manager, every day is different, and I have the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects with a variety of people, both internal and external to my organization. Each day I am presented with many opportunities to make decisions, to lead by example, and to work with others to initiate, develop, and complete projects and programs that will benefit the City both now and in the future.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is the opportunity to learn something new every day and find solutions to problems. I enjoy the diversity of challenges that are presented, and I relish the opportunity to work with others to achieve success.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
My least favorite part of the job has been the challenge of dealing with the FEMA reimbursement process following tropical storm and hurricane impacts. I was involved in this process in 2004 and again in 2016-2017, and each time I have experienced the frustration of frequent changes in FEMA staff contacts and answering the same questions multiple times and other bureaucratic red tape. I’ve often said if there is ever a chance to help improve the FEMA process, count me in!
If you are involved in any volunteer or leadership activities in your community, please share with us a bit about what you do and why it is important to you.
I enjoy supporting the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraising events each year. Many of our staff members are involved as well, as so many lives have been impacted by this disease.What is your most memorable experience on the job?
The most memorable experience for me so far has been the time I spent as a liaison to a citizen’s budget advisory committee. Faced with difficult financial challenges and uncertain future revenue streams, my team and I worked with the committee members to provide full transparency on all current and expected revenues and expenditures. The result of the multi-month process ended with the residents on the committee calling for the city to raise the millage rate to temporarily help the city get through a difficult financial period.
What are your hobbies/interests?
I love gardening and yes, I actually enjoy pulling weeds (but no, I’m not coming to your house!). I have always found the experience of working in the yard to be very relaxing and stress-free, and I particularly love growing heirloom roses.
If you could give one piece of advice to people interested in a career in public service, what would it be?
Join FCCMA, attend as many FCCMA events as you can, and build your network!
Who were your mentors and how have you passed this information down to other aspiring public administrators?
I have been blessed with a number of mentors in my career so far: Lee Feldman, Jon Lewis, Sue Hann, Courtney Barker, John Coffey, and Deborah Barker. I learned many things from each of them, and I recognize what a gift they offered when sharing advice and leading by example. I have tried to share this with the future leaders in my organization and encourage them to pursue training, networking, and professional development opportunities.
What career would you pick if you were to pick another?
If I were to pick another career, I might run for a political office so I could make a difference from a different side, or I might become a local government consultant.
Do you have a story you can share about how being a member of FCCMA has helped you or impacted you in a positive way?
Definitely! My favorite story is the one that led me to work for the City of Palm Bay. Lee Feldman was City Manager at the time, and he was looking through the FCCMA Directory in 2005 to see if there were any FCCMA members in the City that he did not know. My name came up, and he asked Jon Lewis, one of the Deputy City Managers, to contact me and find out more about me. As a result of my conversation with Jon, I had a chance to meet both Jon and Lee for the first time, and some months later, I applied for an open management analyst position. I was hired and had the chance to work with another great mentor, John Coffey. This was clear proof to me that membership in FCCMA has great value, and that aspiring public administrators can find wonderful mentors in our organization!