My Story with Toy Beeninga, City of Fort Lauderdale, FL

Posted on December 21, 2014

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. One way we do that is by “telling our story.” 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.

Toy Beeninga


ICMA Senior Management Fellow, City of Fort Lauderdale

My most frustrating experiences in local government are something that…. I will share closer to retirement.  I have learned a great deal about myself and the profession from frustrating experiences.

download (1)My top three career accomplishments are……I hope my career is in the opening chapter of a Tom Clancy novel. Being selected as an ICMA Fellow and the opportunity to learn from a nationally respected manager, Lee Feldman, is currently what puts a twinkle in my eye.

When no one else is in the car, I…..turn into Don Henley or Doug Gray, except much less talented or in-tune.

I aspire to….become a great NASCAR driver or an innovative City Manager.  Currently the latter seems more probable.

Right now, I am working on….finishing a peppermint mocha.

Work wise, I’ve spent the past few months focusing on enhancing pedestrian and bicycle safety through the “Five E” strategies: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation. Becoming a fully connected, multi-modal city, that prioritizes the pedestrian, is a key component of Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale, the City’s long-term visioning plan.

My three interviewing tips are….

  • Be comfortable with who you are and what you can offer.
  • Shake hands using a firm grip.
  • Don’t dress like a bum

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


….needs to do a better job fostering the intimate relationship between people and place.  We have an amazing opportunity to use the energy of the community to do extraordinary things.  We need to move away from being technocrats and instead embrace of role of community builder.  Let’s figure out how to engage the community and transform good ideas into realities, instead of prescribing solutions from City Hall.

images (1)If I could start a non-profit to assist local government, I would focus on……big data.  In general, local governments do a poor job using data to “tell the local government story”.   Big data will rule the world sooner rather than later, so we need to figure out how to train staff, acquire the systems, and develop better tracking measures.  I am fortunate to work for a City that understands the importance of tracking performance measures on a regular basis.

For the next person that you interview, I would ask….

How can we do a better job fostering relationships with staff from neighboring cities or County governments?

You should have asked me….download (2)

  • What books are you currently reading?
  • With decreasing benefits and low pay, how do we attract young community builders to local government?
  • How do we bridge the inter-generational gap currently in the work force?
  • Who are three people you consider exceptional leaders?
  • Why do you love pivot tables?
  • Why does your coffee mug have a picture of “Gunslinger”?
  • Is Toy your real name?

Supplemental Reading

My Story – Archives 

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