“It is most rewarding when the residents not only know who you are, but learn to respect you because they realize that you truly care. I am most pleased when seemingly impossible situations can find creative solutions through collaborative partnerships. Great things can happen if every one pitches in!”
Number of full time employees:
Years in Current Position:
I began my current position in April 2018.
Years in the Profession:
College Attended and Degree Program:
BSA – University of Michigan, Political Science; MSA – Central Michigan University, Public Admin; DBA – Lawrence Technological University, Doctorate in Business Administration
What path lead you to your current position?
I told my high school counselor that I wanted to be President of the United States. She lacked foresight and discouraged me from this career path. In college, I told a Political Science course and had an internship with Detroit City Council Member Mel Ravitz. I worked with legendary trailblazers including Ravitz, Maryanne Mahaffey, Erma Henderson, Clyde Cleveland and many others. It instilled in me a great passion and commitment to be a “servant leader” in the government area.
What do you enjoy most about being a city manager?
It is never, ever, routine!! Working with smaller communities is both challenging and exceptionally rewarding. They operate with very minimal staffing, so you become very hands on with every aspect of government operations. I enjoy encouraging staff to see their value and inspiring them to achieve even greater levels of customer service. It is most rewarding when the residents not only know who you are, but learn to respect you because they realize that you truly care. I am most pleased when seemingly impossible situations can find creative solutions through collaborative partnerships. Great things can happen if every one pitches in!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the greatest challenges has been not to focus too much on the “political” environment. Not all elected or appointed leaders appreciate and welcome change, so sometimes conflicts and controversy can emerge. I always overcome it by focusing on the positive and doing what is best for the community that I serve.
What are some of the most important skills it takes to be a city manager?
Communication, empathy, critical thinking and creation problem solving…and most important keeping a sense of humor!
What project has been most meaningful in your career to date?
There are several. The Albion River Trail Expansion stands out because it received over $300,000 in grant funding from the Michigan DNR Trust Fund to expand the trail to connect the sections in Albion’s Victory Park, where the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) the Great Lake‐to‐Lake Trail – along with Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail converge. This was made possible by tremendous partnerships with individuals and organizations, along with the support from Senator Mike Nofs and Rep. John Bizon. Albion College and the North Country Trail Alliance were instrumental in researching and helping to draft the grant. But, what was most meaningful is that the project was identified initially by a college student, Danielle Nelson, who was interning in my office. Her research on the economic impact of non-motorized / biking paths uncovered the unique location within Albion that the entire region is now benefiting from. She remained involved in the project through its development phases and this definitely was beneficial for her personal career growth.
Best tip for entering the profession:
Follow your passions. Public service is a wonderful opportunity to make a real and positive difference in a community. The impact is real and most rewarding.
Best tip for succeeding in the profession:
Get hands on experience — volunteer, get an internship, job shadow and identify a good mentor.
How do you establish the best relationship with your elected officials?
Being accessible. Open communications. Understanding that they serve a constituency. Working closely with individuals and the leadership to be on the same page and to be able to provide them with the information that they need in their decision making process.