My Story with Emily Vincent, City of Olathe, KS

Posted on December 24, 2014

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. In our new ongoing series we allow ELGL members to tell their story, describing how they got into local government and a little about their path and journey in the field. Emily Vincent, Olathe, KS Budget Manager, describes her story below. 

My most frustrating experience in local government was

images (2)….as an intern, I had to learn the hard way that what you think is best for a community might not be what the community actually wants.  I had developed a “No Parking in the Yard” ordinance.  I spent a lot of time researching and developing the ordinance.  I discussed the draft of the ordinance with the city commissioners, and they were supportive of this being brought forward to them in a commission meeting.  After the formal presentation was given, citizens who were in attendance asked to comment.  A strong contingent of citizens were not in favor of this new ordinance.  When the commission took action, they voted against the ordinance.  It was hard to not take the decision personally and be frustrated by the outcome.  My city manager used this as a good learning opportunity to remind me that as a public servant we can suggest improvements and enhancements to the community, but it is ultimately the communities decision.  This lesson has helped me learn not to take other things personal as I have progressed in my career.

My top three career accomplishments areimages (1)

  • Overcoming a fear of public speaking and now loving it!
  • Being able to mentor interns getting started in the profession.
  • Feeling satisfied with the career decisions I have made to balance my work and family.

When no one else is in the car, I…….practice presentations that I have coming up.

I aspire to……live by this quote, “Our real freedom comes from being aware that we do not have to save the world, merely make a difference in the place where we live.” – Parker Palmer

Right now, I am working on….

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.moving to a biennial budgeting process and a five year CIP Prioritization Activity.

(Editor’s Note: Check out the great work being done in communicating the Olathe budget.)

Here are three tips for interviewing……

  • Don’t be nervous!  Those interviewing you want you to be relaxed and to feel comfortable.
  • Research the organization you are interviewing with.  Show that you do your homework.
  • Show that you are passionate about the position.  Convince me you want the job more than anyone else.

In terms of telling the local government story, I think local government……

1015482_861713697195294_7278303568173925447_oShould focus on better utilizing social media to enhance citizen engagement.  The city of Olathe developed a series of brief videos and used our Teen Council to interview different city employees on major functions of our city such as Trail Management, Water Utility and Street Maintenance.  We posted the videos on our web site and promoted them through social media.  These videos received more views than our actual budget presentations.

If I could start a non-profit to assist local government, I would focus on….Housing/Transportation needs

For the next person that you interview, I would ask….”What motivates you each day?”

You should have asked me….”What is it like to work for the City of Olathe?’

Supplemental Reading


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