“The most enjoyable thing about leading the county is working with a team of people that are second to none. I could not do any of the things I do without them. Together we make an incredible impact on this organization and the community as a whole. We take on challenges and use innovation to improve the quality of life in this community and the environment for our employees. I am proud to work with them every day.”
Number of full time employees:
General Fund: approx $32 million
Total: $57.5 million
Years in Current Position:
Years in the Profession:
24 years as of August 2018.
College Attended and Degree Program:
Northwood University: BBA with major in Accounting (Go Timberwolves!)
What path lead you to your current position?
Local government was not the path I envisioned for myself. I spent over two years auditing local governments while working in public accounting. I saw the finance director’s position was open in Midland–closer to home, less travel–so I applied. I spent 15 years in that role when my supervisor decided to leave local government and the opportunity for the Administrator/Controller’s job opened. I waited until the last day to apply. I went through all the common thought scenarios a lot of women go through…I don’t have enough of “this” experience or “that” training…I spent more time counting things I couldn’t add to my resume than all of the things I could. I finally just made the decision to do it and the rest is history. About a year into the role I had returned from a tension filled meeting (which I assisted in making better) and as I reflected on the last hour I said to myself “this is what I was meant to do.” I have never looked back.
What do you enjoy most about being a manager?
I think the most enjoyable thing about leading the county is working with a team of people that are second to none. I could not do any of the things I do without them. Together we make an incredible impact on this organization and the community as a whole. We take on challenges and use innovation to improve the quality of life in this community and the environment for our employees. I am proud to work with them every day.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
There is no doubt that the biggest challenge I face –and I think many of us face–is navigating the gap between politics and administration. It can be tricky to stay on the admin side when so many things are “ruled” by the politics of things. These jobs can be difficult due to working in a “fishbowl” and some days it can be challenging to stay focused and move forward.
What are some of the most important skills it takes to be a manager?
There are certainly many that come to mind. Flexibility is critical. You are working with so many different people, personalities, skill sets, and agendas…being able to go with the flow is a must. Being honest and treating people fairly regardless of position or political affiliation. Thoughtful and decisive at the same time….we are a service oriented business and it is critical to remember this one thing: other people matter. Being able to think holistically–look at the big picture–and be inclusive when doing it. We do not operate in a vacuum and will accomplish nothing if we try. Remember to be humble and keep a sense of humor. It is so important not to take ourselves too seriously –there are people standing in line to do that!
What project has been most meaningful in your career to date?
There have been many construction projects that impacted the organization and the community that certainly have been important. However, it is a project I am currently working on that is really powerful to me. Collaborating with the City and a group of about 40 others in the community we are working on improving wellbeing in Midland County. This has the potential to really impact what matters the most…people. How do we help get people “north of neutral” and able to “struggle well” through tough times. I am really excited to see where this endeavor takes us as a community.
Best tip for entering the profession:
Be open minded, network, build relationships, look for mentors and never say never.
Best tip for succeeding in the profession:
I think exactly the same advice I gave for entering the profession! We learn more skills as we progress in our careers and we build lots of relationships, but we never stop learning and we always need more people. Recognize that you can make mistakes and get right back up and learn from them. Surround yourself with really smart, hard working and ethical people. Ask for advice–you can’t possibly know it all.
How do you establish the best relationship with your elected officials?
I think it is important to meet regularly and establish ground rules. Every relationship will have its own benefits and challenges and you need to modify your approach accordingly. I think it is important to interject humor into discussions to breakdown barriers and help gain perspective. Ask a lot of questions…do more listening than talking. Be honest and open minded.