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2020 #ELGLTraeger Winners: #31-#40

Posted on December 15, 2020


Traeger banner 31-40

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re counting down the top 100 influencers in local government. Today, met ten amazing local leaders who are making a difference in their communities. View the full list on the #ELGLTraeger page, and share your congrats using the hashtag #ELGLTraeger on social media!


Julius Suchy#31 – Julius Suchy

Township Manager, Ada Township

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Leader. Mentor. Advocate.

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Julius has been a consistent supporter of those looking to enter the local government sector – running internship programs in every community he has managed and with many of his former interns going on to successful careers in local government. Over a decade ago, Julius helped to build the early career development program within our state association and has served his fellow members in his role as chair of our professional development committee. Julius is well-respected by his peers and regularly serves as a sounding board and source of advice for many of us.


Amy Farkas#32 – Amy Farkas

Township Manager, Harris Township

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Tenacious, Caring, Enthusiastic 

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Amy Farkas has served as the Harris Township Manager for over 15 years.  In that role, she has helped guide the community as it has become one of the fastest growing communities in central Pennsylvania.  Known as the birthplace of Memorial Day, this historic community has grown to include destination restaurants, a range of recreation opportunities, signature annual events and neighborhoods that attract families and retirees.    In addition to Amy’s day job as Harris Township Manager, she is always willing to volunteer to assist others.  Early in 2020, she welcomed new professional colleagues into the area and helped them get oriented.  She volunteers with the local community theatre and with Centre County PAWS (Promote Animal Welfare and Safety), among other activities.  She has a public administration and communications background, so when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Centre Region of Pennsylvania (greater Happy Valley), Amy once again stepped up and served as the Public Information Officer for the Centre Region Emergency Management Agency to help keep the public and elected officials informed of how the Centre Region was responding to and addressing the pandemic. 

With a seat at the Zoom “table” with her fellow municipal managers in the region and in the virtual Centre Region EOC, she helped form messaging and responses for the region.  Then, she transferred that information into twice weekly newsletters to elected officials and periodic Facebook live video messages for the public.  Amy’s video messages quickly became popular due to her knack for explaining sometimes complex regulations and safety measures to the general public.    If that wasn’t enough, when Big10 Football and other public PSU events/programs were cancelled for the season due to the pandemic, Amy quickly determined that an already injured local economy could be dealt a crippling blow from the lack of visitors, fans, etc. for Penn State sports, events and activities this fall. 

(In fact, even though football did return – without fans in the stands or traditional tailgate parties – the local hospitality and retail community has been devastated as a result of COVID-19 limitations.  It is estimated that spending at local restaurants, hotels, and tourist activities declined by $131 million during the April-September period.)  So, Amy jumped into action following the BIG10 announcement and quickly organized a unique local and national response strategy to help Happy Valley small businesses.  She formed partnerships with local business organizations, Penn State University, and local governments to establish the “Helping Happy Valley” initiative, a countywide effort to assist beloved restaurants, retail shops and other businesses.    The unique nature of Helping Happy Valley lies in its appeal to fans who would normally be visiting the area during the fall sports season. 

They now have a way to shop remotely for gifts and fan apparel, and to stock up on restaurant gift cards to use in the future – helping support their favorites for future visits to the area.  The effort also appeals to Penn State alumni anywhere who want to support the home of their university and are now able to purchase gifts for family, friends or themselves directly from the shops and restaurants they enjoyed as students.   

Anything else to add? 

Certainly the pandemic has impacted local economies across the country.  But in an area heavily reliant on the local university, this passionate PSU alum leaped into action to help save our local businesses by leveraging the enthusiasm of Penn State fans across the country. 


Melissa Kozakiewicz#33 – Melissa Kozakiewicz

Chief Innovation Officer, City of Jersey City

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Passionate, creative, focused

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Melissa is the key to success for so many transformative initiatives here in Jersey City that make life better for all of us.  She commands respect from people across the city and has a unique ability to solve problems particularly when the “right” answer isn’t always clear.  She is focused and dedicated to Jersey City and an invaluable member of the team.


Natalie Sacket-Evans#34 – Natalie Evans

Management Analyst, City of Edmond, OK

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Genuine, knowledgeable, involved

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Natalie is a Management Analyst at the City of Edmond, OK where she works on municipal records retention and research, issues city licenses and permits, and works on special projects for the City Manager’s Office. She is a jack of all trades who, as part of the CMO, helps to run the city’s strategic planning efforts. Natalie has helped create a repeatable and successful reporting process to keep the city aligned on their strategic initiatives and goals. She has done an impressive job of marketing department successes within the city and leveraging those successes into further success.

Anything else to add? 

Natalie is very involved in her community as well and serves as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, is a Young Professionals Board Member for OKC Beautiful, and is a Communications Committee Volunteer for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Oklahoma.


Shannah Hayley#35 – Shannah Hayley

Director of Communications & Community Outreach, City of Plano

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Wise, creative, savvy

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Shannah brings corporate communications savvy to local government and freely shares her knowledge with her network. She empowers her team to think and do more for Plano and it shows in the quality of their communications and their leadership in the space. The reason I wanted to nominate Shannah was because of her blog post in November about culture shock in reaction to COVID. It came at just the the right time and was illustrative of her willingness to offer help and perspective to her local government community.

Anything else to add? 

In her spare time, Shannah is the curator and license holder forTEDxPlano!


Michael Halford#36 – Michael Halford

Assistant County Manager, Gaston County

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Innovative, kind, and compassionate

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

I recently worked with Michael on a project for NCGrowth in North Carolina. He has been a great partner on the project, and has shown his dedication to the well-being of residents in his community.


Kabaou#37 – Abdoul Kabaou

Deputy Director of Finance, City of Little Rock

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Tenacious, team player, game changer

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Abdoul has led the city through updating our procurement processes to be outcome driven and more equitable. It has been a long hard road creating this organizational change, but he and his team have never given up. He also is a founding member of our Data Governance Committee.

Anything else to add? 

Abdoul is also a champion for citywide organizational change in use of data and performance measures. He is one of my main partners in crime in changing how Little Rock functions. 


Brendan Babb#38 – Brendan Babb

i-Team Director/Chief Innovation Officer, Municipality of Anchorage

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Innovative, gracious, connected

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Brendan has taken advantage of the generosity of other city leaders to quickly learn from them and copy their work for the benefit of Anchorage residents. As the the director of the Innovation Team he has brought in new roles and people into government. Brendan is always quick to congratulate and share the accomplishments of Anchorage and other cities, building a stronger local government network.


Kristen Camereno#39 – Kristen Camareno

Mobility Coordinator, Tarrant County, TX

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Grit. Resilience. Responsive.

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Kristen Camareno’s title is incredibly misleading because the impact of her work expands far beyond addressing mobility challenges in Tarrant County. Most recently, Kristen has jumped into help with Tarrant County’s rental assistance program and we are so glad she did. She is not only great at working through logistical challenges, but she is determined to succeed, carrying her team with her along the way.

Anything else to add? 

Tarrant County is so lucky to have Kristen on board. Thank you for all you do, Kristen!


Cindi Eberhardt#40 – Cindi Eberhardt

City Volunteer Program Manager, City of Scottsdale

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Competent, Follow-through, Thoughtful

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Cindi Eberhardt is one of those team members who can do it all, and does it all. She runs the city volunteer program of more than 5,000 volunteers in a normal year, leads the Behavioral Insights Team Scottsdale, is a board member of the Scottsdale Historical Society, and during the COVID-19 emergency and economic crisis took on the additional duties of coordinating the city’s recovery effort.

Cindi is detail oriented, follows-up and follows-through, and is an outstanding team member. She is very insightful, and a great resource for talking any problem. She has presented at numerous conferences and webinars on the city’s behavioral insights program, including at ELGL 20. She is a resource for anyone who asks, and will go out of her way to help someone out.


We’ll release ten new names each day from December 7 – 18, 2020!

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