How long have you been a FCCMA member and why did you join?
I became a member of FCCMA in 2007. My city manager at the time encouraged me to join FCCMA so that I could learn more about local government management as a profession, develop skills to achieve my career goals, and network with other aspiring and current city/county managers. I attended my first FCCMA Annual Conference in 2008 on the FCCMA Emerging Leaders Scholarship and I have remained an active member by attending annual conferences, participating in onsite trainings, and serving on various FCCMA committees.
Are you an ICMA member, why did you join, and how long have you been a member?
I became a member of ICMA in 2007 at the same time I joined FCCMA. Similarly to FCCMA, I joined ICMA to benefit from training opportunities, networking events, coaching programs, and educational resources.
Please describe your areas of formal/advanced education.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Florida State University and a Master of Arts in Political Science/Public Affairs from the University of Florida.
Why did you select a career in public service?
I chose to pursue a career in local government while an undergraduate student at Florida State University. As part of my degree program I took an urban politics class taught by a City of Tallahassee commissioner that sparked my desire to pursue a career that would allow me to make a difference in my community. Without a doubt this was a significant turning point in my life and career and I am forever grateful to that professor for showing me a profession that values community service, ethics, and teamwork.
Have you always been in the public sector or have you had experience in the private sector?
While in college I began working in the public sector with the Florida House of Representatives and then internships with the Alachua County Housing Authority and Alachua County. Post graduate school I have worked in local government for 16 years with Marion County, the City of Gainesville, and the City of Fort Lauderdale.
Please tell us about your current position and give a brief job description if you are not a City Administrator/Manager.
I am currently the Deputy Director for the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Department of Sustainable Development. I oversee the divisions of Urban Design and Planning, Community Enhancement and Compliance, Engineering, and Zoning. Overall, the department is responsible for development review, building permitting, code enforcement and economic development.
Please describe your typical day.
While I am not sure there is such a thing as a typical day, if there was one it would consist of working closely with my division mangers to move forward Commission priorities and address the needs of our neighbors. Usually I am communicating with neighbors, city management, and other departments to ensure we are working toward the same goal, solving problems, and providing the resources needed to be successful. One of the most rewarding aspects of working in local government is that every day presents new opportunities and challenges which allow us to stay engaged with our communities.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of my job, and this holds true for each position I have held, is working closely with the community to solve problems, address challenges head on, and celebrate our shared successes.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
In 2009, while Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator for Gainesville, I led the legislative effort to successfully secure state funding to complete a 125-acre wetlands restoration project. With the help of those funds, the city opened the Sweetwater Wetlands Park in 2015 which is a publicly accessible environmentally friendly park. Not only is the park a great local amenity, but it also helped to significantly reduce pollution entering the Floridan Aquifer.
What are your hobbies/interests?
When I am away from the office my favorite activity is to spend time with my family. One of the things we like to do most is travel and explore new places. I am also into attending sporting events, fitness, and reading history and historic fiction.
If you could give one piece of advice to people interested in a career in public service, what would it be?
To really be successful and rewarded in a career in public service you should to want to make a difference in your community and find joy in that endeavor. The job can be tough and the challenges great but the importance of the job is bigger than us as individuals and our success will be measured by the strength of our community.
Who were your mentors and how have you passed this information down to other aspiring public administrators?
My former City Manager Russ Blackburn and Assistant City Manager Fred Murry have each been great mentors to me and two people that I can truly say have made a difference in my career. I worked with both while with the City of Gainesville and I often think of advice and words of wisdom they have given me. I have been lucky enough to pay this forward by having opportunities to mentor or coach co-workers new to the profession.
What career would you pick if you were to pick another?
I love professional football so I would choose to be an NFL general manager. Similar to managing a local government you need to be able to build a strong team, within a budget, that fits the culture of your fan base and has the skills and abilities to work together to be successful.