Navigator Award Finalists: The Leaders

 City Hall, San Jose, California

City Hall, San Jose, California Mike Brake / Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

The leaders we are celebrating in 2018 have developed unique jobs programs, honed advanced management techniques and implemented preventative in-home healthcare that saves money and lives.

Yesterday, we announced the 10 elected leaders who are finalists for a 2018 Navigator Award.

Today, Route Fifty continues to roll out 50 finalists with “The Leaders”: 10 top-level executives and managers who are effecting change and making an impact within government.

These 10 leaders and the teams that support them show the power of innovative ideas well implemented. The outsized impact on their communities and residents are true examples of the power of state and local government executives to positively transform the lives of their citizens and support their communities in new and unique ways.

Cathy B. Bailey, Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works
Lead Water Service Line Removal
If the Flint water crisis wasn’t a wake-up call for many communities regarding the legacy of water-service lines made out of lead, it was a sobering reminder of the long-term public health risks that they pose. Like many cities, Cincinnati’s challenges with lead-service lines have been two-fold: the pipes that are publicly owned, which the Greater Cincinnati Water Works has been gradually replacing; and the ones that are the responsibility of individual property owners. Bailey, also known as “First Lady of Water” on Twitter, started with the department as a chemist in 1992 and rose through the ranks to become the first woman and African-American to lead the department as director. She’s has played an active role in building community partnerships needed to finance lead service line replacement, especially in neighborhoods with higher rates of minorities and households below the poverty line. The department has programs where it can provide up to $1,500 to each customer to fix privately owned lead lines as the it fixes the adjacent publicly owned lines. A separate customer assistance program can reduce the replacement costs even more. “It’s the right thing to do for the community so get the community involved,” Bailey said on a recent episode of GovLove, the podcast from Engaging Local Government Leaders.

Fire Chief Don Crowson and Team, Arlington, Texas
In-Home Preventative Care Saves Money and Supports Residents Health
Crowson’s fire department and paramedics have built out the Community Paramedic Program, providing home-based medical care and social services to high-risk city residents before the situation gets dire. In providing preventative medical support and teaching residents to take care of chronic conditions, the agency substantially reduced demand for emergency response services and medical costs. The city has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in fleet mileage costs alone, and over a million dollars in medical costs to the hospital.

David D'Arcangelo and Team, Massachusetts Office on Disability
Municipal ADA Improvement Grant Program
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has 295 towns and 56 cities, some of which are older than the nation itself. D’Arcangelo and his team have implemented a grant program that helps those municipalities in Massachusetts plan and improve access for persons with disabilities throughout the state. By offering support, the office has seen a 56 percent increase in ADA-mandated self-evaluations and transition plans, implemented projects that support the 12 percent of the population in Massachusetts with some form of disability and raised awareness among local governments so they set themselves on a path towards ensuring access for all.

Kip Harkness, Deputy City Manager, San Jose, California
An Agile, Innovating City
Covering emergency management, transportation and innovation is not a small portfolio for a deputy city manager in a jurisdiction with over a million residents. Harkness has stood out for integrating management techniques the Bay area is known for into his cities’ public sector efforts. Translating technology company management strategies like the “scrum” and agile development, Harkness is promoting the type of cross-department collaboration that creates a culture of innovation and implementation that is often talked about but rarely practiced.

Catherine Johnson, Director, Family Justice Center, Guilford County, North Carolina
A Haven for Victims of Domestic Violence
The Family Justice Center is a collaborative effort between Guilford County and the city of Greensboro that provides a wide variety of services for victims of domestic and family violence. With law enforcement, health, legal and social services under one roof, the Family Justice Center provides a web of support for victims so they don’t have to attempt to navigate the local bureaucracy on their own. Johnson is a driving force behind the center, ever-expanding its services into areas like elder abuse and a summer camp that provides a week away for children who have suffered from family and domestic violence.

Joann Massey, Director, Memphis Office of Business Diversity & Compliance
Expanding Access for Minority and Women-owned Businesses
When Mayor Jim Strickland took office two and a half years ago, he put Massey in charge of the new Office of Business Diversity and Compliance. Under her leadership, the city has quadrupled its certified and registered small, minority and women business directory and doubled the number of contracts with minority and women-owned businesses. In addition, Massey has also put together programs to help small minority businesses succeed, empowering new private sector leaders with an eye toward equity.

Anthony Nolan and Team, Prince George’s County, Maryland
Sustainable Energy Program
Nolan and his team’s slogan is “Transforming our Communities, One Kilowatt at a Time.” They’ve lived up to that slogan beyond just becoming the number one producer of solar energy in the D.C. Metro region and driving down greenhouse gases. Their efforts are promoting a number of other community goals beyond green energy, including green energy workforce training that provides “pathways out of poverty,” support for energy efficient home renovations, and a Green Energy Loan Fund.

Mathew Sanders, Resilience Program and Policy Administrator, Louisiana Office of Community Development
Louisiana's Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE)
While Sanders’ efforts resettling residents of Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing Isle de Jean Charles made national news in the last few years, many others in the state face similar threats from climate change. To that end, he developed and is heading implementation of LA SAFE, an effort to encourage community awareness and plans for adapting to climate change. Meeting with over 3,000 residents in 71 community meetings across 6 parishes, communities developed their own plans and residents voted on their preferences. As a result, the state will be putting $40 million into ten projects this year alone.

Kelvin Watson and Team, Broward County, Florida, Libraries
Inviting the Uninvited
Since joining the Broward County Libraries team in 2017, Watson and his team have worked toward building dynamic library spaces that deliver services to the whole community. Central to those efforts is their “Inviting the Uninvited” initiative, focused on ensuring all citizens feel welcomed through targeted services. This includes programming and services for active-duty military, veterans and their dependents; people experiencing homelessness; lower-income families; and, the formerly incarcerated. The initiatives have expanded library engagement for thousands in the community and positioned the institution as a provider of educational and informational resources for those often overlooked in communities.

Anthony D. Watts, Sr. and Team, Orange County, Florida, Corrections
Inmate Construction Program
Like other county corrections employees across the country, Watts and his team in Orange County, Florida, have seen the difficulties their former inmates have reintegrating into society. It often means a vicious cycle that leads them back to prison. To help break that cycle, Watts and his team created the Inmate Construction Program, which helps those transitioning out of jail with training and employment opportunities that are sustainable, providing solid living wages and hopefully a career path. Through construction projects that support a local nonprofit agency, inmates learn the trade. The testaments to success come in the full time employment and letters of thanks from those who have graduated from the program.