It’s Time To Change

Posted on June 26, 2024

Collage of photos all including the article's author, doing various city activities.

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Kayla Barber-Perrotta, Budget & Performance Manager at the City of Brighton, Colo. Connect on Linkedin.

What I’m reading: A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

What I’m watching: Peaky Blinders

What I’m eating: Whatever is in my freezer. I need to clean it out before moving.


If you have followed my work or my Morning Buzz articles over the last several years, you know that I care deeply. From coaching my team to seeking ways to elevate the profession, I never do things halfway. My work is an extension of me. I love what I do and the people I do it with, and I have been so lucky these last few years to have the most amazing team take this journey with me. That’s why, even as I write this article having had several weeks to get used to the idea, I still get rather emotional when I think about leaving my City of Brighton team.

The decision to move on did not come easy. I have never been one to exit organizations easily. I build deep bonds and put my heart and soul into every project. This means every exit feels like I am losing a piece of me. Leaving Brighton, however, has been a whole other level of emotional turmoil. I joined this team in 2019 when the city was sideways with no end in sight. A water scandal, mayoral recall, and multiple city managers had put Brighton in a downward spiral. We went through COVID together, saw friends leave and return, and as a team experienced the lowest lows and the highest highs of our careers. We built friendships that will last a lifetime, and I am honored to have a level of trust and respect from my peers I never imagined possible. My five years in Brighton have truly been like capturing lightning in a bottle. From the success of the Performance and Leadership Academy, to resurrecting our organization from the ashes, and an epic Halloween showing as the entire Taylor Swift Eras tour that will forever be part of the Brighton lore, I will remember my time here all too well.

So why am I leaving? It’s a quite simple reason that most of us will experience at some time in our careers. There was simply nowhere for me to go—no next step. We’re a mid-sized city and there are oh, so few opportunities to advance unless the timing is just right. I’ve felt the itch to move beyond my role as Budget and Performance Manager for a good two years now. Being our first-ever Budget Manager, navigating us financially through COVID-19, and championing efforts to shift us into a premier municipal employer forced me to pack 10 years of learning into just a few years. Gradually, I felt my personal growth slowing, and there were only so many stretch projects I could take on while still managing my core duties. Things started to feel like they were on repeat, but I wanted to support my team, grow them in every way I could, and ensure our key programs like the Performance and Leadership Academy would be sustained far into the future. So, I stayed…until one day I looked at my team and realized I didn’t need to anymore. We’ve cross-trained, we’ve mentored, we’ve done succession planning right, and I can see that in every way they’ve got this.

Now that I’ve taken you on that emotional journey, which I must admit has caused me to fully sob as I write this, let’s get to the exciting part—what now?  Well, as you can guess, I am taking that next step as I look forward to joining the City of Albany, Ore. as their Deputy City Manager! Just imagine me dancing exuberantly around my kitchen and you will have a pretty good idea of the excitement I am feeling. Seriously, that is exactly what I did after getting the phone call. Anyone who knows me knows this is a dream role for me. I wanted to be a Deputy City Manager. Check! I wanted to work for a medium-sized city with a downtown and a passion for history. Check! I wanted to be a part of a warm and welcoming team where I felt supported. Check! I wanted to take on a role where I could have a positive impact. Check! And I wanted that opportunity to keep growing and learning. Check! Check! Check!

My immediate team, of course, has known of my impending exit for a while now. We’ve been doing cross-training and stretch projects for the last year to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for whenever that perfect opportunity arose. As things became serious with Albany they were my greatest champions through the recruitment. They took great joy in quizzing me and reminding me of the projects and experiences I should discuss for various aspects of the job. They sent me oh, so many well wishes and memes in the hour before I stepped into the final interview, knowing I would be nervous. Now that it is official, they are team Oregon. They’ve given me a list of places I now need to visit, they’ve offered advice on starting new and building trust with my new team, and they’ve even given me feedback on how they think I should set up my new office. They’ve also taken great joy in sharing memories and kind words in a bid to see how many times they can make me cry in the next few weeks. I’ve been told they’ve got something particularly sentimental planned for my last day, so I’ll have the tissue box ready.

Change is scary. Moving is scary. Leaving behind a tight-knit network of friends and colleagues is scary. But sometimes we must have the courage to embrace the scary and see what the next step holds. I won’t pretend it’s easy; it’s not—particularly if you have something wonderful you are leaving. You’ll probably question yourself endlessly before you pull the trigger, but eventually you will. It may come on gradually, or happen in a meeting as you look out at your team and your work. Either way, you’ll know in your gut that it’s time to change.

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