My Story with Matt Wojnowski, City of Killeen, Texas

Posted on February 26, 2015

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. In this ongoing series, ELGL members tell the story of why they chose a local government career.

WojnowskiM2Matt Wojnowski (Twitter) has approximately 15 years of local government management experience and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation at the City of Killeen, Texas. He directs a Parks and Rec budget of $2.35M and has passionately worked to create a higher level of customer service. Through his leadership, the Parks and Rec department have achieved the Playful City USA and Tree City USA designations for the last 6 years!

Previously in Killeen, Matt served as the Assistant to the City Manager from 2007 to 2013. In this role, he improved performance measure reports including benchmarking with peer cities, briefly served as the Interim Director of Support Services, and created a Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

killeen_welcome_signPrior to these positions, Matt served as the Assistant to the City Manager for the cities of Joplin, Missouri and Temple, Texas.

In addition to his professional career, Matt has served as a member on the TCMA Committee on Advocacy, Vice-Chair of the Cen-Tex Sustainable Communities Partnership, and Chair of the Killeen 2010 Census Complete Count Committee. Matt also received his MPA from the University of Kansas.

What was your first local government job? How did you end up in local government?
jayhawkI was a part-time management intern at City of Grandview, Missouri while working on my MPA at the University of Kansas. ROCK CHALK! I ended up in local government partly due to my youthful influences of a book, an essay contest and a video game. (Check out my article in the Jan/Feb 2012 ICMA PM magazine.)
My most frustrating experience in local government was
fry presentation meme……in the summer of 2002 while serving as an Assistant to the City Manager. I developed a PowerPoint presentation, which the City Manager and I used to inform city staff, local organizations, civic groups, and the public about a 3 proposition voter bond election for police, fire, and parks. We highlighted the uses and benefits of the 3 proposition of the bond package. Election night arrived and so did my frustration as only the two public safety propositions of the bond election passed. The parks proposition narrowly failed.

My top three career accomplishments are….PM maga

  • Team leader of $3.2 million Transportation Enhancement Grant for downtown improvements and extension of Hike and Bike Trail;
  • Personally redesigned major improvements to Planning and Development website to better serve customers; and

 We often learn from our mistakes. Name one or two career mistakes that you have made that you think we could learn from.

  • When in doubt, follow the chain of command;
  • Always plan ahead and never presume
  • *Bonus: Communication is a vital key to success.

Our experience has been many of our friends, family, and neighbors are not well versed in what it is we do in local government, many think we are a “planner” or “mayor”. Has this been your experience? How can local governments better communicate their role in the everyday lives of the community?
I love sharing how the manager/council form of government operates and the benefits from separating the duties. We can better communicate our role through citizen education, participation, and involvement.
Funny Story.
Amer funniest home vidsEarly in my career, I was Master of Ceremonies of new Social Security Administration building groundbreaking event. They were local dignitaries, state politicians, and even some high level staff from a few federal agencies in attendance. At one point in the program I called on a city leader to speak and I said, “And now we will hear from the old Mayor.” There was much laughter from the audience and the former Mayor himself.  Remember to check the proper titles of others.

Right now, I am working on…..


……all things Parks and Recreation! (I serve as Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation.)

Best piece of advice from you parents….

……“There’s always room for improvement.” –Dad

When no one else is in the car, I….
……am listening to an educational or interesting podcast.

Three most influential books in your life.

  • The Twenty-One Balloons
  • Book of Mormon
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

In a dream world, which bands would headline your retirement party?

  • Beck
  • Blind Pilot
  • James Booker
  • Harry Connick Jr
  • Van Morrison

I aspire to…
……someday enjoy my future great-grandchildren with my wonderful wife by my side!

What’s the meaning of life? L-O-V-E

Here are my three tips for interviewing… 

  • Relax, be yourself;
  • Show me you want the job more than anyone else; and 
  • Tell me some stories demonstrating your strengths.

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

  • Be more inviting
  • Improve transparency
  • Demonstrate the value/benefit of citizen participation/involvement

(Complete the sentence) In 2018, local government will be…..
……much like it is today with improvements in the areas of technology, thriftiness, and transparency.
You should have asked me… what my favorite city in the world is?

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