September 2020

TCMA Management Messenger

Texas Representation on the ICMA Mountain Plains Region Board
Management Transitions
New Members
New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
Social Media
Member News
Manager in Residence Program: Getting Ready to Head Back to Campus (Virtually)
Ethics Corner
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

ICMA -Spot Light Nominations Open_Mt Plains Region

texas representation on the icma mountain plains region board

By virtue of the TCMA and ICMA Mountain Plains Regional Nominating Agreement, TCMA holds a permanent position on the ICMA Executive Board. The term of service for this position is a three-year commitment to commence October 2021 and conclude September 2024.  

TCMA’s role in the nominations process is to provide two qualified candidates for consideration by the ICMA Regional Nominating Committee prior to the general membership ICMA election held in May 2021. Criteria for candidacy: TCMA and ICMA Full member (CAO or serve in an assistant or department head position with full membership status) or a TCMA Associate member who is also an ICMA Affiliate member currently serving in an appointed position in local government, who has a minimum of five years of service to a local government and five years of membership in ICMA.

A TCMA approved petition, schedule, and the “ICMA Mountain Plains Regional Nominating Committee Process for Identification and Selection” are available at Texas Candidate for Vice President ICMA Mountain Plains Region

Please keep in mind the following TCMA timeline is slightly different than the ICMA timeline:

September 1, 2020Notify TCMA members who are also ICMA Corporate (Full and Affiliate) members that nominations are being accepted for ICMA Executive Board/Texas seat for the ICMA Regional Vice President for the Mountain Plains.
September 30, 5:00 p.m.Petition Deadline
Week of October 5, 2020TCMA Executive Board Endorsement
December 1, 2020Statements for qualifications submitted to TML staff.


Alina Ciocan will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Sanger, effective September 16.

Leslie Cloer is no longer the city manager of the City of Palestine. Teresa Herrera (city secretary) is serving as the interim city manager.

Will Daves was appointed as the city administrator of the City of Blanco.

Donna Edens is serving as the city administrator of the City of Grandfalls.

Amanda Hill is the new city manager of the City of Rusk, effective September 28.

William Linn is serving as the city manager of the City of Kenedy.

Dion Miller will retire as the city manager of the City of Tulia, effective September 30. Dion has 40 years of service in the city management profession.

Ben Nibarger is the new city administrator of the City of New Fairview.

Joe Smolinski is the new city manager of the City of Mansfield.

Jimmy Stathatos is the new city manager of the City of Bedford, effective September 14.

Paul Stevens is the new city manager of the City Highland Village, effective October 1.

New Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Board on August 24, 2020.

Full: Erika McComis, Assistant Town Administrator, Argyle; Sean Overeynder, City Manager, Lamesa; Donald Reese, Assistant City Manager, Brenham; Rachel Shelly, City Administrator, Cresson; Brandon Wright, City Manager, DeSoto

Associate: Rachel Balthrop Mendoza, Assistant to the City Manager, Denton

Cooperating: Lindsey Baker, Director of Government Affairs, Denton County Transportation Authority; Richard Foley, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities & Operations, St. Mary's University

Student: Matt Hartleib, Texas A&M University; Bart Perez III, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; William Taylor, University of Houston; James Theiler, Wichita State University

New Member Applications

The current TCMA Board policy requires that names of new member applicants be published each month in the Management Messenger. Any written objection during the subsequent 30-day period will be reviewed by the Membership Committee. If no objections are received during this time, the names will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. Written objections can be mailed to TCMA, Attention: Membership Committee, 1821 Rutherford Lane, Suite 400, Austin, TX 78754. Applications received in the month of August:

Full: Leonardo Caballero, Assistant City Manager, Woodway; Sylvia Ordeman, Town Administrator, Bartonville

Associate: Cameron Goodman, Managing Partner- Economic Development, Leander; Imelda Speck, Economic Development Project Administrator, Irving; Venus Wehle, Director of Community Development & Convention Center/Acting City Planner, Forest Hill

Cooperating: Chip VanSteenberg, Executive Director, Montgomery County Emergency Communication District

meet your colleagues

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes Grayson Path to his new position as city manager of the City of Paris. Grayson’s appointment began on April 27. Previously he worked as city administrator of the City of Nebraska City, Nebraska, and as city administrator of the City of Jetmore, Kansas.

Grayson graduated from Northeast Community College in 2006 with an associate’s degree in physics, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and from Arkansas State University in 2012 with a master’s degree in public administration.

Grayson and his wife, Katie, have been married for eight years and have two children.

social media

Have you checked out TCMA Facebook and Twitter lately? New and fresh stories are making an appearance. TCMA invites you to tweet what's happening in your city, share your stories on Facebook, and broaden your network in the new TCMA Linkedin business format.

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member news

Alison Ortowski
TCMA congratulates Alison Ortowski, assistant city manager of the City of Southlake for being named the recipient of the North Central Texas Council of Governments' 2020 Linda Keithley Award for Women in Public Service. To read more, click here.

Deer Park City Council award presentation

TCMA President Brad Stafford (left) presented the 2020 City Council of the Year Award to the City Council of the City of Deer Park on August 18. This Award recognizes and honors outstanding city councils that have made significant contributions to local government in Texas.

Allies Pic

The Allies Across Texas Task Force met via Zoom on August 28. Their purpose is to make recommendations on policies, practices and strategies to identify and eliminate disparities in the public administration arena. The Task Force is accomplishing this through subcommittees including recruitment and outreach, professional development, and organizational culture/structures.

Manager in residence program:
Getting ready to head back to campus (virtually)

At this point in a typical year, recent high school graduates are getting ready to start their first year of college, college seniors are relishing the opportunities that lie ahead of them, and graduate students are looking forward to starting their next adventure when they finish their capstone projects. It’s also the time of the year when TMCA members who serve as Managers in Residence (MIR) at nearby universities with MPA Programs to start thinking about what they can share about their experiences to encourage students to consider positions in local government. 

But as we all know, 2020 has been anything but a typical year. The annual return to college campuses will look quite a bit different this year. Some schools are starting online. Some might not return in person until after Thanksgiving. Some might have a plan today that will change within the week. As local government managers, we know adaptability is the one thing we must be good at, especially in these times. 

While right now it may seem even more difficult to try and take time away from our jobs to talk with students about the benefits of working in local government, I would argue there has never been a better time for us as city managers to do just that. 

People all over are looking to local governments to help keep them safe when they are out enjoying community parks, pools, events, and other amenities. It’s easy to see how local government directly touches the lives of people during this pandemic. Local government still has to provide garbage removal, we still have to keep parks clean so parents can get their kids out of the house, and we still need to provide the core services that people expect.  With this extra attention being given to local government, we can use this to highlight city management. 

According to a June 2020 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll, people looking to local government now more than ever, they also approve of the local government response to COVID-19 more than the federal or state response. We can use this opportunity to attract the next generation of public leaders to local government. 

As MIRs we have an opportunity to connect with university students in easier ways than we had before. Many ICMA student chapters are hosting virtual meetings, allowing us to pop into the meetings from wherever we might be. We can share our experiences with these students without having to dedicate our whole evening to the event. 

We can serve as guest lecturers for a class without having to leave the office. We don’t have to take the extra time to drive to campus or compete with commuting students for a parking spot. It may be easier now than ever to make a positive impact on a class full of students. 

It also opens up a new realm of potential internships. With many of us working from home, the questions surrounding how telecommuting really works have been answered. A remote internship is a possibility that might have sounded too foreign to be true just a few months ago. Perhaps there is a small project we have been putting off because we just don’t have time to get to it that could be a great project for an intern to do remotely. A “micro internship” allows students to get exposure to local government, complete a project we need done, and maybe even earn a bit of spending cash all while working remotely. 

Even in these times of social distancing, Zoom meetings, and telecommuting we should still make the effort to reach out to the next generation of local government workers. Our world has changed dramatically the past six months and opened many doors of opportunities. Let’s do what we can to get the best and brightest of the next generation to walk through those doors with us. 

(Submitted by Austin Bleess, City Manager, Jersey Village and City Managers of Tomorrow Committee Chair)

Ethics Corner

Paying it Forward: Sharing Organizational Values with the Community

“Our actions shall respect the diversity of our citizens and employees while being conducted in an open, responsive, and ethical manner.” -- Coppell Cornerstone

Once upon a time, in a fair city about 20 years ago, there was a city manager who instructed his assistant city manager to create a leadership culture among city employees. This was a rather vague charge, but the ACM took it to heart and started searching for a way to develop such a culture. Working diligently towards that goal, he found some tough mountains to climb. The city was growing, attracting more professional residents, and striving to overcome instances of bad and unethical behavior. Employees frequently treated others poorly and demonstrated little to no customer service traits or ethical behavior. The worst offenders became commonly known as those who “left bodies in their wake.” 

In 2009, the culture of leadership, relationships, and service to others was on its way to being widely accepted among leadership in the organization, but not quite so much in the ranks. Most of the time, it was employee behavior that caused issues, rather than their technical skills. It became clear that a process was needed to start ingraining desired behavior in the entire organization. So work began on defining a set of expectations that staff would be evaluated on which included ethics. This led to a new performance evaluation tool which encouraged personal development and allowed the organizational culture to grow across the ranks. 

Municipal employees, i.e. government, must sometimes work harder to earn the trust and respect of their constituents. Ethical behavior is essential to building the relationships that create trust and is a value that many organizations should and do count among their foundational principles. One of the ways an organization can foster trust is to share their core values with its community, which includes conveying the importance of ethics. This is especially significant for city employees because of the perception many people have about government. If that perception is to be changed, relationships must be built, trust earned, and ethical behavior demonstrated consistently. 

The journey that started over twenty years ago for this city has persisted through several city managers and ACMs, each of whom added a piece to the story. In addition to defining higher expectations in employee behavior and a new performance evaluation, this journey inspired the team to develop training to address issues born out of changes in the community’s demographics.  The term “Organizational Culture” is now used to combine how the culture of the employees within the organization shall be bound to and exemplify respect to customer service and ethical behavior.

Tenet 3. Demonstrate by word and action the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in all public, professional, and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the trust and respect of the elected and appointed officials, employees, and the public.

The aforementioned demographic shift at the city began about 10 years ago. The most profound effects fell on its employees, primarily first responders. Police and fire would go on a call and find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, where the caller would not allow them to enter the home, assist the victim, and/or communicate effectively with other household members. It also impacted other front-line staff who were getting pushback from residents who did not understand how or why things work the way they do. It was frustrating to staff who sought to provide exceptional service and underscored the need to build trust with those residents whose personal experience with government may have been unpleasant. 

The city began by working with a company that specialized in diversity and unconscious bias training. Two programs were created to provide employees with tools that would allow them to build trust with residents so staff could perform their jobs as intended. This training was, and continues to be, mandatory.

These two programs were so successful that it was decided to share what was learned with the community as a whole. Out of that was born the Allies in Community Initiative. The mission of this initiative is to build relationships through common ground, foster a deep sense of belonging and enhance resident’s active engagement in the city. The program runs over a seven-month period with one four-hour workshop each month. Topics for the workshops include values of the city’s organizational culture, such as servant leadership, ethics, self-development, trust, and more. The emphasis is on providing tools to build relationships and trust in a diverse community. There is a session on values in which each team within the group discusses their personal values and discovers that they have more in common with each other and the city’s culture, than they have differences. 

The foundation for the Allies in Community program is a document that embodies its values and principles as an organization. These principles are shared in two ways. First, by including employees in the program. Second, by creating a curriculum that highlights important principles such as servant leadership, humility, respect, trust, integrity, ethical behavior and service.

Including employees in the program was extremely successful. Throughout the workshops, events, and meetings that each team participated in, staff demonstrated their service ethic, their willingness to take on responsibility and their desire to make a positive impact in the community. Residents saw firsthand how city employees behave, which led to a deeper trust that this organization intentionally serves the community in a way that is service oriented, ethical, and with integrity. As a result, residents who have been in Allies engage more with the city and tend to bring others along with them. 

The program ends in a graduation ceremony in which each member is encouraged to speak to what impacted them the most. One of the biggest revelations has been that the Allies had no idea what the city’s organizational values were and were pleased to know how important those values are to the employees. The most often repeated comment was about servant leadership and acknowledging how staff embody it in their role as city employees. Many spoke of how proud they were to be part of a city that offers a program that seeks ways to connect people, no matter where they are from or what their personal beliefs are.

The Allies in Community program fulfills the city’s desire to facilitate relationship building among residents, create belonging, build trust, and encourage citizens to become further engaged with the city. Sharing its values and including employees in the process contributed to the success of the program. In so doing, the city continues to live out the charge of ethical behavior laid out in Tenet 3, to the great benefit of its community.

Twenty years later in 2020, organizational culture is part of almost every conversation in this city. Culture leads in personnel discussions, improves processes and workflows, and guides decisions, and is woven into strategic planning efforts.

(Article submitted by Vicki Chiavetta, Deputy City Manager, City of Coppell)


#ELGL Inspire: TCMA-ELGL Joint Events

October 8, 2020
The University of Texas at Austin (virtual event)

November 5, 2020
Stephen F. Austin University (virtual event)

February, 2021
Texas State University

April, 2021
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars

Managing Hostility in Public Discourse: Living in an Age of Anger
12:30-2:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 9

Charting Your Future: Developing Your Personal Strategic Plan
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 22

Talent Management in the 21st Century: Growing, Attracting, and Retaining Your Best
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, November 12

Memos on Meetings

The Board met on August 7 via video conference. The minutes are available here.

The Public Policy Task Force met on August 13 via video conference. The minutes are available here. The next meeting is September 10 via video conference.

The Professional Development Committee met on August 21 via video conference. The minutes are available here. The next meeting is September 3 via video conference.

The Allies Across Texas Task Force met on August 28 via video conference.

The Membership Committee will meet on September 18 via video conference.

All information is current as of the 25th of the month prior to publication.

In-Transition Services
To see if you qualify for TCMA 
In-transition Services, please 
click here. For a list of current city management job openings in Texas click here.

Career Compass
Career Compass is a monthly column addressing career issues for local governmental professional staff. To view current and past articles, please click here.

Additional Resources
Visit for additional training opportunities, resources, and advancement of professional local government around the globe. 

If  you have some interesting news that you would like to see included in the Management Messenger, please email