The Deputy with Jeff Mihelich, City of Fort Collins

Posted on June 12, 2014


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Ben McCready, Rock Island (IL) assistant to the city manager, adds to ELGL’s ongoing series on assistant city manager and deputy city managers by profiling the new deputy city manager in Fort Collins, CO.

Background Check

220px-Victor_E._VikingFort Collins’ Deputy City Manager and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Mihelich holds a Master of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and comes to Fort Collins with 23 years of experience in city and county government operations.

Jeff is responsible for day-to-day operations of the City’s municipal services and staff as he works with the City’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to implement the organization’s strategic plan. He also serves as Acting City Manager in the absence of the City Manager.

Jeff Mihelich began his career working in planning with experience in Portland, OR and James City County, Virginia. From there he went on to Poquoson, Virginia serving as the Director of Planning and Community Development. In 1996 Jeff accepted a position as Assistant Village Manager in Algonquin, IL where he served until 2008. He then held the position of Economic Development Director in Surprise, AZ until he was named Assistant City Manager there in 2011.

Background Check on Fort Collins

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ELGL loves Fort Collins because of the recent  Atteberry: Excellence requires daily commitment, passion” op-ed by Darin Atteberry, Fort Collins city manager. Here’s why you should love Fort Collins.

With a population of 148,612, Fort Collins is the fourth most populous city in Colorado after Aurora, Colorado Springs and Denver. Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University. It was named Money magazine’s Best Place to Live in the U.S. in 2006, No. 2 in 2008, and No. 6 in 2010. It is also known as one of the towns that inspired the design of Main Street, U.S.A. inside the main entrance of the many ‘Disneyland’-style parks run by The Walt Disney Company around the world.

Fort Collins has a council-manager form of government. The mayor, who serves a two-year term and stands for election in municipal elections held in April of odd-numbered years, presides over a seven member City Council. The current mayor of Fort Collins is Karen Weitkunat, elected in April 2011 and re-elected in April 2013. 

Lightning Round

First concert you attended: Monsters of Rock

(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to…….go to the summer Olympics!

Dream job as a child: President of the United States

Book you are currently reading: The Innovator’s DNA

Q & A with Jeff

Your first local government job.

Planning Assistant for the City of Portland, OR.

Three professional accomplishments that you are most proud of

Creating the first-ever economic development program in Algonquin, IL.

Developing a Comprehensive Land Use Plan in Surprise, AZ that was ratified by 70% of voter

Becoming the Deputy City Manager for the City of Fort Collins, CO.

Give us a couple things to be careful of while advancing up the local government career ladder.

  • Always be ethical and truthful.
  • Work hard and smart.
  • Keep your work-life balance intact.

Your mentors.PHP4D8265853F0E0

Darin Atteberry, City Manager, Fort Collins, CO

Bill Ganek, Village Manager, Algonquin, IL

Chris Hillman, City Manager, Surprise, AZ

Finding the right work/life balance is a constant struggle for many of us, what is your approach to maintaining your personal life while leading a successful professional career? 

Make time for family, friends, and exercise, even blocking out time on your calendar if necessary.

(Complete the sentence) Local government is……challenging.

ELGL is hosting its second annual conference in October, help us out by suggesting three topics of speakers we should include. 

Career Advancement

Work-Life Balance

How to operationalize innovation

If we ever encounter you on an interview panel, give us a few specific tips for making a good impression.

  • Tell stories.
  • Give concise answers with specific examples.
  • Be polite and friendly to every single person you encounter during your interview process/visit.

What does city management look like in 2020?

  • Heavily into technology.
  • Policy decisions will require extra attentiveness based on the challenges of incorporating diverse generations’ needs, expectations, work styles, etc. into the final outcome.

download (1)Finally, would you encourage your children to consider local government as a career?

I would not necessarily encourage my children to pursue local government for their career. I would challenge and urge them to chase their dreams and pursue areas that are interesting to them and for which they demonstrate a strength or aptitude. 

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