President Message: Let's Have Some Fun
New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
TCMA Board Action on Mental Health Initiative: An Added Benefit
Mental Health and Wellbeing Webinar Series
Insights After the Conference
Open Call for Conference Speakers
Ethics Corner: Providing Alternatives
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings
president message: let's have some fun
The past few years have been difficult for us all. Over a million American lives were lost to COVID. Last year, no Texas municipality was spared from Winter Storm Uri. We have endured lockdowns and closures, partisanship and division, vaccine and mask debates, and the postponement or cancellation of significant milestones. In big ways and small, each of these exact a toll on our cities, our professional lives, and our personal lives. TCMA recognizes our members’ needs and is in the early stages of rolling out meaningful new initiatives to address our mental health wellness. There will be numerous opportunities for our membership to take advantage of these offerings through sessions at our annual conference, quarterly online seminars, and at regional meetings.
As we face our many challenges, let us also focus on the beauty. The beauty of our call to service, the beauty of our kinship. I am thankful beyond words for the camaraderie of my fellow TCMA members. Many tears fell on May 24 as we saw the unspeakable horror that befell Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Our hearts break for those families who lost innocent children in that close-knit community. Amongst the numerous prayers lifted were those for our friends City Manager Vince DiPiazza and Assistant City Manager Joe Cardenas. Their leadership is needed more than ever, and they have our support. We are an association, and we have each other’s backs!
Lest we forget, we also have much to celebrate. In just four short years, TCMA will commemorate its 100th anniversary. We soon will begin the journey of making preparations for an amazing centennial in 2026. Our membership has blossomed to over 1,100, our past few annual conferences have set all-time attendance records, and our mid-year training events often sell out. For these things, and countless others, we have much for which to be thankful and joyful.
Finally, whether you are a life member who joined decades ago, or you are an aspiring young professional new to this business, know that you belong here. Take advantage of all TCMA has to offer, beginning with the opportunity to build lasting and meaningful relationships. A great year lies ahead. Let’s have some fun!
James J. Stokes
City Manager, City of Deer Park
Austin Arriola is no longer the city administrator of the City of Grandfalls.
Noel Bernal is leaving his position as the city manager of the City of Brownsville and will be the new county manager of Adams County, Colorado. Helen Ramirez will serve the City as the interim city manager.
Rosario Cabello will serve as the interim city manager of the City of Laredo, effective July 22.
Thad Chambers is the new town administrator of the Town of Bartonville.
Reese Cook will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Sweeny, effective July 31.
Erin Corbell is the new city manager of the City of Brady.
Erika McComis is no longer the city manager of the City of Breckenridge and is now the interim city manager of the City of Argyle.
Matthew Dear is the interim city administrator of the City of Lytle.
Larry Fields is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Graham.
Micah Grau was appointed as the city manager of the City of Buda.
Harlan Jefferson will no longer serve as the town manager of the Town of Prosper, effective July 28.
Henry Hill (deputy city manager) will serve as interim city manager of the City of Frisco until Wes Pierson begins serving as city manager, effective August 2.
David Jordan is the acting city manager of the City of Missouri City.
Brenton Lewis is the new city manager of the City of Ingleside, effective June 27.
Jeff Looney is no longer the city manager of the City of Granite Shoals. Peggy Smith is serving as the interim city manager.
Nathan Mara is the new city manager of the City of Decatur.
Stacey Norris was appointed as the new city manager of the City of Dalhart.
Justin Parker is the interim city manager of the City of Spearman.
Melissa Popham is the interim city administrator of the City of Poteet.
Phyllis Sabo is the city administrator of the City of Calvert.
Alun Thomas (city secretary) is serving as the acting city manager of the City of Santa Fe.
Richard Tramm is no longer the city manager of the City of Montgomery. Dave McCorquodale is serving as the interim city manager.
The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Committee on June 27, 2022.
Full: Wendy Baimbridge, City Administrator, Hedwig Village; Jose Cavazos, Interim City Manager, Levelland; Cesar Garcia, City Manager, La Marque; Karen Glynn, City Administrator, Bunker Hill Village; Jason King, Interim City Manager, Stephenville; April Knudsen, City Administrator, Roman Forest; Cynthia Raleigh, City Manager, Palacios
Associate: Monica Benavides, Assistant to the City Manager, Denton; Drey Hicks, Assistant to the City Manager, League City; Kylie Jackson, Innovation Manager, Sugar Land; Molly Martin, Economic Development Director, Joshua; Cesar Rodriguez, Directory of Strategy Management, McAllen
Cooperating: Elizabeth Grindstaff, Account Manager, Freese and Nichols; Anthony Snipes, Regional Director-AHF, AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Students: Jamaine Johnson, Liberty University; Abraham Barron and Alex Lara, The University of Texas at San Antonio; Katelyn Moriarty, Texas State University; Dominique Smith, The University of Texas at Dallas
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 June:
Full: Lance Arnold, Assistant City Manager, Weatherford; Cedric Cole, Interim City Manager, Missouri City; Nathan Mara, City Manager, Decatur; Justin Parker, Interim City Manager, Spearman
Associate: Edgar Garcia, Director of Planning, McAllen; Placido Madera, Planning Director, Eagle Pass; Mark Rauscher, Assistant Director, Fort Worth Fire Department
meet your colleagues
The TCMA Management Messenger introduces and welcomes Terrell Smith to his new position as the city manager of the City of Marshall as of May 2. Terrell previously served as the assistant to the city manager for the City of Sugar Land. He also held the positions of public works operations manager, public works and environmental and neighborhood services administrative manager, and management assistant II in Sugar Land. He has also served as an intern with the Town of Flower Mound.
Terrell earned a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Texas Tech University and earned his Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas.
tCMA Board Action on Mental Health Initiative: An Added Benefit
Over the past year, the TCMA Board and a Membership Subcommittee have focused on the mental health and wellbeing of our members. Just like caring for our physical health, mental wellness is also critical to overall health. The challenges of our profession can be draining, weigh heavy, and take a toll on mental health including added stress on families.
As a response to this need, on June 9, the TCMA Board approved a recommendation by the Membership Committee to make effective immediately that all TCMA members are required to commit to two hours of mental health training or services every two years. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including attending educational sessions focused on mental health at TCMA events, webinars provided through the TCMA partnership with Deer Oaks, resources currently provided on the website for in-transition members at MIT Resources, and additional resources the Membership Committee will continue to develop and make available. A checkbox will be made available during dues renewal to confirm the requirement has been met.
In addition, TCMA is excited to announce the newest member benefit to assist member’s access tools to meet this requirement while maintaining healthy minds. Beginning July 1, TCMA will partner with Deer Oaks EAP Services. While there are many services Deer Oaks provides, the mental and brain health initiative is the primary focus of this program.
The Deer Oaks EAP benefit covers three confidential, pre-paid, short-term counseling visits to members and their families. These visits can be conducted in-person or electronically. Deer Oaks clinicians have considerable expertise and knowledge in the areas of stress, depression, anxiety, workplace difficulties, substance abuse, marital problems, family or parenting conflicts, grief, domestic violence, and unhealthy lifestyles. They are also well versed in helping clients of all ages and backgrounds.
In addition, Deer Oaks will host a quarterly webinar exclusively designed for TCMA members on the topic of mental health.
Beginning July 1, you can contact Deer Oaks at 888-993-7650 or visit the Deer Oaks website and log into the TCMA portal at www.deeroakseap.com. The login and password is TCMA. You can also access services through the iConnectYou app in the Apple Store and Android Play Store with the code “231963.”
Deer Oaks EAP is available when you need it, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Other services available through Deer Oaks include:
- Childcare and Eldercare Resources with Referrals
- Financial and legal issues
- Free Interactive online simple will
- Retiree Assistance
- Moving Resources/Checklist
- ID Recovery
- Credit Report
- Reimbursed Ride (Cab, Uber, RideShare, Lyft)
TCMA is committed to the health and well-being of its members and their families. We encourage you to take advantage of this added and important benefit.
mental health and wellbeing webinar series
TCMA is excited to offer a new quarterly webinar series, Maximizing Mental Health in the Workplace. In partnership with Deer Oaks, this webinar series is designed to assist members with mental health and wellbeing. This will fulfill the new two hours every two year mental health training or services requirement. Get started today, and register for each event.
Stress and Its Impact on Your Health
Friday August 5, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Register here.
This session is a practical look at the effect stress has on individuals mentally and physically, along with helpful strategies for recognizing stress and proactively implementing techniques that can improve health, productivity, and life satisfaction.
Managing the Stress of Relationships
Friday, October 21, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Register here.
This session will discuss the stress caused by the relationship challenges in our lives and suggest several strategies for improving the quality of relationships to reduce both stress and conflict.
How to Maintain a Mentally Healthy Workplace Environment
Friday, December 9, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Register here.
This timely presentation will provide an overview of the elements that make up a mentally healthy workplace, including encouraging an inclusive culture, respectful relationships, consistently supportive leaders, and employees who focus on personal wellbeing.
How to Become More Resilient During Challenging Times
Friday, February 17, 2023, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Register here.
During these unprecedented times, employees face many stressful challenges. Increasing our resilience can be a key strategy to successfully coping with and managing the stress and pressure. This session will discuss several approaches that can help individuals to increase their resilience and maintain their health and daily effectiveness.
insights after the conference
As another TCMA Annual Conference comes to an end and I have yet to unpack my new bag with all of my conference swag, I feel compelled to reflect on some of the lessons I learned at this year’s conference.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the opening speaker, Nora McInerny, shared an experience with us that was invaluable. She went where most day-one conference speakers wouldn’t, talking about handling grief and how to realize when you need help. The everyday uncertainties of this profession have been compounded in recent years with other life-changing events, nationwide health concerns, and unspeakable losses and tragedies felt around the country being a few. Ms. McInerny taught us that it is okay not to be fine and that in a profession where we spend a lot of time taking care of others, we must also prioritize our own mental health.
The second keynote speaker, Dr. Sudip Bose, reinforced the importance of how city managers are called on to continue their efforts in the face of disasters and turmoil. I may be late to the party on this, but I heard someone say recently that ICMA stood for, “I can manage anything,” and since this is Texas, let’s make it, “They can manage anything.” That is what those in this profession are called on to do; to manage anything that is thrown their way and affects their community. The lessons Dr. Bose provided on incident management as well as the structure and importance of critical leadership was a tremendous refresher for us all.
The final keynote speaker, Judge Glenda Hatchett, inspired to us to take charge of our lives as leaders. She challenged us to look within and try to understand what it was that was holding us back from reaching our goals- professionally and personally. She reminded me to not forget about my dreams; those things I have always wanted to do but have found excuses not to do. This is a reminder that we all need.
The award ceremony provided recognition of some of the finest and most historic figures within the state of Texas and in local government today. All individuals who were recognized were extraordinary in their own way and we as members benefit from having them here to learn from. What an honor it was to share that time with them!
The concurrent sessions were, as always, informative and relevant. This year’s speakers gave information on a wide array of topics, from covering key areas in navigating cybersecurity, to outlining the Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program and how it can help our members and their families, and to rethink the “world of work” as the nation emerges from the nationwide health crisis. I am amazed and inspired each year by the creativity of our fellow colleagues that put on these sessions.
This article, detailing the value of the Texas City Management Association Annual Conference would not be complete without recognizing the hard work that goes into the preparation of the conference. The City of Bastrop was an incredible host and provided us the wonderful facility and amenities that we all enjoyed. We thank them for welcoming us and letting us explore their great city! There are also, of course, the committees, managers and staff that worked tirelessly to plan and implement the sessions we all learned from. Their dedication to bettering this profession, along with the TCMA and TML staff, are what make this all possible. Kim Pendergraft and her team have exceeded all our expectations with the preparation and production of this event. Please join me in thanking them all from the bottom of our hearts for contributing to our professional development. I am looking forward to seeing you all in Allen next year. I can only imagine that it will be even more spectacular than this year.
Professionally, I needed to be at the conference to hear new perspectives on these important topics and personally, I needed that time around colleagues and friends to come back to my city refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. As I walked through the halls daily, I saw familiar faces that I hadn’t seen since the conference last year, mingled with those that I know well and can reach out to when I am in need, and met new members and first-time attendees. I was blown away by the number of first-time attendees that I met and by the passion and excitement that they showed for this profession. Texas cities are in good hands for a long time.
I had originally planned to write this article on the importance of encouraging leadership at all levels of your organization, but once I started writing, I knew I needed to reflect on the experience of attending this conference. However, I think that message is still here too. I’m probably speaking more to those that are aspiring to one day be a local government leader than seasoned professionals, because they all know already how important it is to an organization to promote leadership among all employees at all levels.
I have been coming to these conferences for many years, first as a guest and then as soon as I could as a member and attendee. It has been so fun watching the next generation of manager’s kids doing the same thing I was doing not all that long ago. Without this early exposure to the profession, and if my early employers were not supportive of my conference and regional meeting attendance, my career would look very different right now. The network that I have been building all this time is something that I treasure most about my profession and I wish that for every person that aspires to become a city manager. For this reason, I urge us all to continue to encourage the next generation of local government leaders to get involved in this and other local government organizations; and this has to start within each of our cities.
As an emerging leader myself, I spend a lot of time trying to be a mentor to the employees I serve alongside and to encourage them to exhibit leadership no matter what position they hold within the organization. We have to share with our people the importance of raising your hand and figuring out what you can do to add value. Enabling your team and staff members to be leaders no matter their role will also change the dynamic of your organization and improve productivity and morale. Employees need to be empowered to show you, and sometimes learn for themselves, what they can do.
I also encourage them to find other mentors both within and outside of our organization. It is so important to find the people in this profession that want you to succeed, and TCMA is one of the best organizations to make those connections. For first time conference attendees and new members, we are so happy you chose to join us. Get involved, really dive in, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your colleagues in TCMA.
(Article submitted by Ashley Wayman, Interim City Administrator, Rollingwood)
OPEN CALL FOR CONFERENCE SPEAKERS
The 2023 TCMA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 8-11, at the Marriott Dallas Allen Hotel and Convention Center.
The Professional Development Committee would like your input on speakers and educational session topics. Please take a few minutes to provide feedback. If you want to submit multiple suggestions, a link will be provided at the end of the survey.
To submit your suggestions no later than July 29, click TCMA Speaker Call.
I recently had my annual performance evaluation with my city council. As with all helpful reviews, the council recommended certain areas I could work on to become a better city manager. One area identified was providing the city council alternatives when presenting an agenda item for their consideration.
Good solutions are not possible without good alternatives. Yet, I must admit there are times I do not present alternatives to the council because I either think the choice is obvious or have a bias to the option I am presenting.
TCMA Tenet 5 says a city manager should “submit policy proposals to elected officials; provide them with facts, and technical and professional advice about policy options; and collaborate with them in setting goals for the community and organization.”
Policy recommendations often encompass value judgments that are better made by the city council. Generating good alternatives is a source of important insight both from a technical perspective and a values perspective.
The role of the city manager has considerable influence in the decision-making process. In smaller communities such as mine, council members serve on a volunteer basis and are not usually cognizant of the issues and challenges the city encounters daily. Many times, the only words they hear on a certain topic are those being shouted in their ear by an ill-informed constituent.
As city manager, my role in the decision-making process is to help the city council arrive at the best possible result with the least amount of effort. Usually, what council members need as decision makers is useful information about a small, carefully thought out set of alternatives – their consequences, key differences (trade-offs) in their consequences, and the response of key stakeholders with respect to these trade-offs.
While it may be natural for me to have certain biases based on experience or feelings – especially when it comes to my tolerance for risk – it is important that I recognize these biases and take steps to keep them from influencing the city council’s judgment. When presenting information or a recommendation to the city council, it is important for me to be explicit about any assumptions and biases so that they can adjust their deliberations accordingly. Whenever possible, I should also use data to support my position. The benefit of using data to support decisions is that when analysis is done correctly it is objective and factual, not based on emotions or subjective preferences.
Tenet 5 reminds me that as city manager, I serve as the council’s chief adviser. Council members and citizens count on me to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.
(Article submitted by Steve Eggleston, City Manager, City of Andrews)
tcma educational EVENTS
Perspectives on City Management
Listen to episodes here
Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars
(Pre-registration is required)
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, September 8
Alternatives to Silos
12:30-2:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 20
Everyone Has Personal Challenges
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, November 17
TCMA Webinar Series: Maximizing Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace
Stress and Its Impact on Your Health
1:00-2:00 p.m., Friday, August 5
Managing the Stress of Relationships
1:00-2:00 p.m., Friday, October 21
How to Maintain a Mentally Healthy Workplace Environment
1:00-2:00 p.m., Friday, December 9
How to Become More Resilient During Challenging Times
1:00-2:00 p.m., Friday, February 17, 2023
Memos on Meetings
The Board met on June 9 in conjunction with the TCMA Annual Conference. Minutes are available here. The next Board meeting is September 9.
The Public Policy Task Force met via video conference on June 16.
The Professional Development Committee will meet August 25-26.