March 2023

TCMA Management Messenger

2023 TCMA Service Awards
Management Transitions
New Members
New Member Applications
Gratitude in Leadership
Ethics Corner
Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

2023 TCMA Service Awards

TCMA annually recognizes members who have reached service milestones. The service awards honor TCMA members who have been full or associate members in full-time service as an appointed employee of a local government entity for a minimum of 20 years. Although TCMA and ICMA are similar organizations, the criteria for service awards are not identical. TCMA service years are determined by number of years as a TCMA full or associate member rather than number of membership years and are current with their membership dues.

Listed below are the names of those individuals identified as meeting the criteria necessary to receive TCMA service awards. Please review this list and contact Kim Pendergraft at or 512-231-7400 by April 15 if you can offer any corrections. These individuals will be recognized at the TCMA Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 9.

Life Membership 
(As of January 27, 2023, the following members have been reviewed by the Board and approved per the TCMA Constitution Article V, Section E.)

George Purefoy
Brett Shannon
Allen Barnes
Jeffrey Howell
Shawn Raborn
Lea Dunn
Paul Hofmann
Scott Wayman

55 Years
Mike Eastland

30 Years
Mike Land
Paul Stevens
Andre Wimer

25 Years
Ron Bottoms
Mario Canizares
Chris Coffman
Kim Dobbs
Jennifer Hibbs
Jeff Jones
Brian Laborde
Sam Listi
Bruno Rumbelow

20 Years
Henry Hill
John McDonald
Thomas Muir
Tom Yantis

Management transitions

Fred Bell is the new city manager of the City of La Grange, effective February 16.

Drew Brassfield will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Fritch, effective March 3. 

Spencer Cronk is no longer the city manager of the City of Austin. Jesus Garza is the interim city manager, effective February 16.

Tommy Gonzalez will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of El Paso.

Jarrod Greenwood is the interim city manager of the City of Justin.

Ryan Henderson is the interim city manager of the City of Anna.

Rodney Kieke will no longer serve as the city administrator of the City of Quitman. Lt. Col. James Attaway will begin serving as the new city administrator, effective May 1.

Bill Lindley will retire as town administrator of the Town of Highland Park in late May, 2023. A date has not been announced at the time of this issue.

Fran Malafronte retired as city administrator of the City of Van Horn.  LeAnn Gallman is the interim city administrator.

Joseph Neeb is the new city manager of the City of Laredo, effective February 21.

Adam Niolet is no longer the city manager of the City of Seminole.

Stephanie Reyes is the new city manager of the City of San Marcos, effective February 22.

Nate Smith is no longer serving as the city administrator of the City of Fairfield.

Brent Spier is no longer the city administrator of the City of Clear Lake Shores.

Brent Walker is no longer the city manager of the City of Bridge City. Mike Lund is the interim city manager. 

Pamela Woodall is no longer the city manager of the City of Ovilla. David Henley is the new city manager, effective January 30.

New Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Committee on February 25, 2023.

Full: Anas Garfaoui, Assistant City Manager, Live Oak; Charles Kreidler, City Manager, Aubrey; Grace Matlock, Interim City Manager, Jarrell; Melisa Milliorn, City Secretary/Assistant City Administrator, Grand Saline; Aaron Smith, Assistant City Manager, Odessa; Colby Waters, Assistant City Manager, Perryton

Associate: Jon Barnes, Assistant to the City Manager, Amarillo; Brian Butscher, Director of Public Works, Sugar Land; Andrew Deavers, Director of Parks & Recreation/Assistant to the City Manager, Southside Place; Kelsee Jordan Lee, Economic Development Director, Cibolo; Gumaro Martinez, Executive Director Parks and Leisure Serves, Waxahachie; Juan Olaguibel, Superintendent of Bridges, McAllen

Cooperating: Erika Martinez, Assistant Director of Operations, Laredo

Student: Evan Baker, University of Texas, San Antonio; Md. Mostafa Jalal, Texas State University; Joshua Menhennett, University of Texas, Tyler; Kristen Murray and Nghai Tran, Texas Tech University; Reed Russell, Texas A&M University;  Jessica Torres, University of North Texas

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 February:

Full:  Joe Neeb, City Manager, Laredo; Melissa Popham, City Administrator, Poteet; Kevin Rule, City Manager, Woodcreek

Associate: Desiree Adair, City Secretary, Rollingwood; Rebecca Patterson Diviney, City Engineer/General Manager of Public Works, Denton; Edward Pitts, Public Works Director, Post; Sarah Munoz, Director of Development Services, Portland; Victoria Solis, Human Resources Director, Pleasanton; Dawn Steph, Director of Environmental & Neighborhood Services, Sugar Land

Cooperating:  Adam Anders, Business Development Manager, Port Neches; Matthew Wright, Police Lieutenant, Austin


Col. Daniel Eugene SowadaTCMA is saddened by the passing of Colonel Daniel Eugene “Stump” Sowada, former Westlake Hills city administrator on January 27. A mass was held on February 10, at St. Louis Catholic Church in Castroville.

An inurnment will be held at a later date at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Please keep Daniel’s family in your thoughts and prayers. For a full obituary and charitable donations, please click here

Nancy ThurmondTCMA is saddened by the passing of Nancy Thurmond, wife of past TCMA President James Thurmond. Nancy passed on February 10. Funeral services were held on February 14, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Missouri City and a graveside service was held February 15 at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Refugio.

James shares these words about Nancy.

I sometimes thought that Nancy should have been made an honorary TCMA member because she was so involved in the cities where I worked. Many a mayor told me that I kept my job because Nancy was so strong, well known, and liked in the community. She could easily remember names and even the number of children and birthdates. It was amazing. She knew enough about city operations, problems, issues, etc. to have been a manager. She would let complainers around her know what the facts were to stop their complaining so much. 

From 1979 to 2019, she missed one TCMA Conference and that was in 1980 when she was pregnant with our third child and couldn’t travel. She only missed the 2019 conference because we were on our 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. 

She loved the TCMA family and has many city manager spouses that she counted among her closest friends.

We always found strength in our TCMA relations as we moved from city to city and as we encountered the typical city manager problems.

Please keep James and his family in your thoughts and prayers. An obituary and information for charitable donations is available here

Gratitude in Leadership

As I sit typing this, I am working from the comfort of my home as I look out on icy streets and white yards.  I had a completely different article prepared but decided to change routes. Days like today make me feel a deep since of appreciation for those employees who have to put in extra time in unpleasant conditions. As city managers, we all know this does not only mean police and fire employees but also street crews, utility workers, emergency management personnel, and more. While it is common to feel appreciation, how many of us share our appreciation?

Some of us are blessed with the innate gift of recognition, I am not one of those people. I have learned that I need reminders, whether those are literal tasks on my “To Do” list or my friends asking me if I have shared my appreciation after I tell them a story expressing how proud I am of different people. It is a muscle I must strengthen. The more I use it, the more natural it becomes.

Studies have shown that the expression of gratitude can improve us physically, psychologically, and socially. It lowers blood pressure, improves immune systems, provides more refreshed sleep, and it encourages us to exercise more. Psychologically we are more optimistic, joyful, and happy. Socially we are less isolated, more compassionate, and more forgiving.

Expressing gratitude to employees is an easy way to boost morale and productivity. It costs us nothing, we need only to be sincere. Imagine the power that expressions of gratitude can have on your team. It creates an environment of thankfulness and appreciation, and it improves your leadership skills.

Tools to express gratitude.

For me, my number one tool is setting reminders for myself. It started out small; a reminder every couple of days to recognize someone that did a great job or worked outside of their comfort zone. Another great reminder is to leave blank “Thank You” cards on your desk where you will see them consistently.

How to express gratitude.

Say “thank you” and mean it! Think back to when you last told someone thank you. If you can’t remember the last time, then you aren’t saying it often enough. Communicate your gratitude purposefully and authentically. Think in terms of more than a general “Thank You.” Be specific and expand on why you are expressing your gratitude. This can be verbalized either to the individual or in front of the team. Pay special consideration to your employees to know which method would have the most positive impact. There are the classic hand-written notes, which many people save for years. In my desk, I have a note that is almost 15 years old. Every time I see it, it boosts my spirits. There are also online and virtual methods of communicating gratitude. LinkedIn has a feature under the “Celebrate an Occasion” portion of a post that allows you to “Give Kudos” to members of your team on the public platform.  

Provide employees with purposeful work. Take the time to share with employees the importance of their work and how it fits into the vision of the entire organization.

Express an interest in the future career goals and help guide them along a path to accomplish those goals.

So, as I sit all warm and toasty, I’m going to take a little extra time to reach out to those in our organization who have been braving the cold weather. I’m going to let them know that I see the hard work they are putting in during the conditions where others, like myself, are cozy and warm…and I’m going to set a reminder to make sure I follow up with them after the sun comes out and we return to our normal schedules.

(Article submitted by Kristi Gilbert, Town Administrator, Cross Roads)

ethics COrner

Allegations, created and spread especially in today’s social media environment, can erode public trust and confidence in the member and government. Favor or compromise, whether real or perceived, may be the most challenging and indefensible accusations against a public servant. Those charges are most often associated with a gift or other personal benefit to the individual. It is usually a matter of when, not if, those allegations are made against a member or someone within their organization. So how can members, themselves and as the leader within the organization, navigate these potentially pitfalls?

When does a “gift” create an ethical problem? Hopefully, that is a question all have examined throughout a career in public service. Where are boundaries and causes for potential confusion or ethical dilemmas? In articles over last two months, Caitlin Biggs and Kent Souriyasak gave practical examples while exploring different perspectives within the Tenet 12 Guidelines on gifts of the TCMA Code of Ethics.

Tenet 12 reads, “Public office is a public trust. A member shall not leverage his or her position for personal gain or benefit.” The Tenet 12 guidelines regarding gifts provide additional clarification that begins with a warning against “any gift that could reasonably be perceived or inferred that the gift was intended to influence…” Further, the guideline states gifts should not be “intended as a reward for any official action.” Perhaps most notable is a later section in the Tenet 12 guideline stating, “De minimus gifts may be accepted in circumstances that support the execution of the member’s duties or serve a legitimate public purpose.” Notice this language places a rather significant condition on accepting gifts even of small value.

If the gift or opportunity is connected to the member’s official duties and role, there are three critical questions to answer:

  1. Is acceptance of the gift even legal? Kent explained in Article #2 that state law and the personnel policies in most cities will provide clear boundaries based upon commercial value of the item.

  2. Could the gift reasonably be perceived or inferred to influence decisions or be a reward? Caitlin points out in Article #1, perhaps a gift, while insignificant and legally acceptable, may still be intended to curry influence or an expectation of partiality.

  3. Does the gift support execution of official duties or serve a legitimate public purpose?  If that gift is purely a personal benefit neither the limited value nor legality matters.

We must further exemplify Tenet 3 that charges members to “demonstrate by word and action the highest standards of ethical conduct.” Kent explored last month an aspect of this duty to our organization in providing clear policy, context, and training to elevate the ethical standards of our employees.

“Ethics must begin at the top of an organization. It is a leadership issue and the chief executive must set the example.” ~ Edward F. Hennessey

The guidelines on gifts, when dissected, clarify most boundaries related to accepting gifts in a member’s position. Thorough investigation and clarification of “supporting the execution of official duties and legitimate public purpose” is warranted and currently being examined in intricate detail by an Ethics subcommittee.

(Article submitted by Chad Nehring, City Manager, Center)

Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship

TM ScholarshipTCMA is accepting applications for the 2023 Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship. This $2,500 scholarship is available to a Texas City Management Association member’s dependent child who is a high school graduating senior and has been accepted to a Texas college or university.

The deadline to apply is April 7. To learn more and apply, click Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship

tcma educational EVENTS

William “King” Cole Session 2
March 30-31, 2023
Sugar Land

2023 TCMA Annual Conference
June 8-11, 2023

TCMA Podcast  
Perspectives on City Management  
Listen to episodes here.

Memos on Meetings

The Ethics Committee met on February 9. Meeting minutes are available here.  The Committee is scheduled to meet on April 13 by video conference.

The Advocacy Committee is scheduled to meet on March 2 by video conference.

The TCMA Allies Committee is scheduled to meet on March 15 by video conference.

The Membership Committee is scheduled to meet on March 23-24 in Mesquite.

The Public Policy Task Force meets every Thursday by video conference.

The 100 Year Celebration Task Force is scheduled to meet on April 5 by video conference.

The Board is scheduled to meet on April 21 in Deer Park.

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