City Administrator/City Manager
As a city administrator or city manager, you are the “CEO” of your city. In this role, you can help the city council plan for the future, and manage city staff and resources to make those dreams a reality. Research a public administration degree to learn more.
Why she shows up every day: I have lived in this community for many years, so this work impacts my neighborhood as well. Having the relationships with community members really does lend itself to the work—in building trust, and building relationships between community and government. My involvement has an impact that I can physically see in the day-to-day lives of our residents or in the day-to-day operations of a local business.
How she got the job (and how you could too): I have a very nontraditional career path to city government. I have an undergraduate bachelor’s of science in chemistry with a minor in psychology. I also have a masters of business administration with emphases in strategic management and marketing. Typically someone in city administration has a political science (or similar) undergrad degree with a public administration management degree. However, my professional experience provides me the experience needed to be successful in this position. I was a programmer and systems analyst for a number of years in the insurance industry, and then I worked for a major airline, in the hospitality industry. I have experience with customer service, marketing, and information technology. Prior to coming to the city of Brooklyn Park I worked at the University of Minnesota for 12 years doing strategic community outreach, administrative management, and facilitating community-university partnerships. Outside of my job I have also done community work around transit and other issues.
My previous experience was as more of an advocate on the outside, as someone who always gave a critical eye to what the city was doing, how government was interacting with the community, and being a questioner to that work. Transitioning to being a part of the government—that is a philosophical shift, a big transition. I had to think really long and hard about the pros and cons of that. Ultimately my decision was driven by where I felt I could make the most positive impact and have the most influence to bring about that positive change.
What’s the job like? A city administrator or city manager, at least in a city such as Brooklyn Park, is essentially a chief executive officer (CEO). The way our city is chartered the city manager reports to the city council, and then the city manager hires department directors to manage operations of the city — fire, police, public works, recreation and parks, community development (which includes economic development and housing code enforcement), finance, and administration. The city manager really oversees all of that work. A city administrator also works outside the city with partners, including our school districts, community colleges, and with the business community.
Before being hired by the city, I was involved with some of the strategic planning work that the city has been involved in, called the Brooklyn Park 2025 Community Plan. I’m involved in translating those goals into action. I get to influence how those decisions are made and at what point it’s feasible to engage with the community about decisions that impact them. I take very seriously my role in making decisions that could impact the community. I’m also always thinking about being accountable to our taxpayers in our day-to-day decisions—how can we meet Cadillac goals on a Buick budget? My ultimate goal is to ensure that whatever decisions we make will positively impact the community and will create more equitable outcomes for community members.
Are you interested in learning more about a city career? One great way to get advice is to contact someone in your own city or a city nearby. You can ask questions about the job and learn more about training programs that may be available. Connect to city websites and city contact information through the League of Minnesota Cities.