New Sensation: Cheryl Hughes, City of Palmdale, CA

Posted on August 16, 2014

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Background Check


Connect: LinkedIn

Cheryl is an administrative analyst for the City of Palmdale (CA). She was named Employee of the Year for Palmdale Public Works in 2006 and Public Safety Practitioner of the Year in 2013.

In her current role, Cheryl is responsible for management level duties over staff – both direct and indirectly managed staff and participates in operational goal setting, prioritizing, and change management.

Q & A


(Complete these phrases) Best thing about the….

80’s was…….the music – couldn’t get enough of Duran Duran

90’s was…… the beginning of my adult triumphs and tribulations

00’s was…..completing my Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs

Last year was…..challenging, yet fulfilling

Today is….inspiring

Tell us about three accomplishments that you are most proud of.

Completing both my Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs in Public Administration, while working fulltime with the City of Palmdale, raising two children, and not forgetting my husband through it all.

download (1)Taking the City’s Community Engagement Program to an entirely new level and receiving the 2013 Public Safety Practitioner of the Year award as a result of the accomplishments in park revitalization projects as part of the Community Engagement Program.

Guiding Public Works staff through many operational changes as a result of the loss of monetary and staff resources. The change was difficult and resistance was high, but they successfully moved through the change process and many have also become much more knowledgeable in contract, budgetary, and financial management as a result. Not only did changes benefit the organization, but they also benefited the staff and provided them tools that can help further their careers.

(Complete this sentence) I feel old when I…

…..stop and realize both my boys are in high school and one is a senior now (yikes)!

Name two or three people that you would want in your dream selfie.


Patricia Martel, City Manager of Daly City, California

Dalai Lama

Tell us about two mistakes that you’ve made that we can learn from.

Managing stress under pressure. This may not be a mistake I made on a specific assignment or task, however this is a mistake I have made over and over and over again that I worked extremely hard at overcoming. I knew I could not be a successful manager or future local government leader until I could effectively manage my stress. It is imperative to remain collected, even when you are faced with immense pressures, deadlines, or challenges. You must figure out what works best for you in controlling and managing the related stress and, in time and with a lot of effort, managing your stress under pressure will be second nature.  It took me a long time to figure this out, but I am much more relaxed and patient as a result, and happier with myself as a person and leader.

Give us three of your favorite YouTube videos.

Believe it or not, I don’t know any specific YouTube videos but like to watch funny or absolutely adorable animal videos when I come across them, YouTube or otherwise.


Parent(s) can be influential in career choices of their kids. What was the career path of your parent(s)?

My mother was a child advocate during my youth and worked her way into a Field Representative position for a San Bernardino County, California Supervisor. From there she continued working with political figures and towards the end of her career was appointed by the Governor of California to be a Juvenile Parole Board Member and later a Board Member on the Adult Parole Board for the state.

My father began in the United States Air Force, where his technical job was a Purchasing Agent. When he was a civilian again, he continued his career in finance as a Purchasing Manager for several businesses before he retired. He is now an independent insurance agent.

Name three of your mentors and describe them in five words.Patricia Martel Career Excellence Award

David Childs, City of Palmdale, City Manager – Patient, caring, committed, accessible, and ethical

Patricia Martel, Daly City, City Manager – Resilient, intelligent, experienced, driven, and compassionate

Tony Colombo, City of Palmdale, Superintendent of Maintenance – Helpful, practical, creative, steadfast, and kind

How can ELGL best contribute to the public sector?

Offer resources to help develop successful future local government leaders, which I may be new to the organization, but it appears this is exactly what ELGL is doing. Resources are valuable, as they help continue developing the knowledge we already have in local government, but they also can provide us ideas and knowledge that we may not have and can learn from.  Learning from each other by sharing knowledge and being able to call on each other for assistance when faced with an unfamiliar challenge is quite valuable and will help us deliver services to our communities, which is what we are all about in the Public Sector.

Your hometown…..what is it best known for?ontario_web

Ontario, California – while I grew up it was known for its grape vineyards and dairy farms. Today, both are no longer present in Ontario and neither am I, so it will always be known for the dairies and the grapes in my eyes even though they are all but a distant memory.

Give us two items that are broken in local government.

Community Connections are broken, which compounds the public distrust in my eyes. If local governments are not connecting with their communities in meaningful ways and community members do not understand what services and programs are available and provided to them, as well as how the government works, then trust levels will remain low.

The unsustainable retirement systems and the fear and/or avoidance of the unsustainability of the pension systems is a significant problem in local government.  We need to confront the harsh reality and find viable, sustainable solutions that benefit the employee, the local government, and the taxpaying citizen.

Fast forward one year, what will factor into your decision on whether to renew your ELGL membership?

How beneficial the membership is to my networking, as well as insightful articles or information that will help me continue to build my local government management knowledge.

893498_431202013640975_1492707598_oGive us two ideas for attracting and retaining talented individuals to the public sector.

Competitive salary and benefits matter and are crucial to helping bring in talent needed in local government, especially as we come upon a time period where will see large numbers of retirees leaving the profession.

To retain talent, job development and growth opportunities are essential. Create value in a learning organization, which will develop employees’ skills, knowledge, and abilities, as well as their ability to grow within the organization as a result of this learning environment. For instance, a leadership development program, supervisor trainings, employee trainings, conferences, seminars, etc.

Supplemental Reading

Palmdale honors outstanding public safety employees

Palmdale’s Powerful Tool: A Community Engagement Success Story

Patricia Martel, Daly City – Meet Your City Manager

Palmdale names new City Manager


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