City of Watervliet
What Does Your Company/Organization Do?
The City of Watervliet provides an array of services to residents and visitors alike. Our goal is to offer the best quality services in the most efficient manner possible. These services include, but are not limited to; law enforcement, road/water/sewer maintenance, election administration, billing/payroll, iron filtration (water), planning, economic development, contract management, parks/grounds maintenance, and any other business the city engages in. All in all, our goal is to strive to be a place people want to live, work, and play. Watervliet is a tight-knit, passionate community and one I’m proud to be a part of. Go Panthers!
My biggest accomplishment is developing into what I believe to be a passionate, caring, yet strong-willed individual. As a lifelong learner, I believe that I have a responsibility to myself and those around me to continue to grow and continue to find ways to work with others to accomplish difficult tasks. “Rising tides lift all boats,” the more we can build each other up and learn to better understand each other, the more we can accomplish. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
More evident accomplishments that I take pride in, are getting accepted to and graduating from The Ohio State University where I realized a childhood dream/goal. Additionally, being elected to the South Haven Board of Education in 2014, where I was able to demonstrate my passion for public education and give a voice to teachers, families, and students, who at times felt ignored and/or overlooked.
Finally, in my time serving the City of Watervliet, I’ve been fortunate to work with the City Commission to refocus the city’s priorities and plan for the future. Among our successes, two really stick out to me personally.
- Impact Watervliet – Working with Watervliet High School athletic director, Ken Dietz, we were able to identify, secure funds, and plan a series of substantial “impact” projects within Watervliet. These projects included: the painting of dugouts, stairwells, and light posts in our parks, and the creation of decorative pieces used for various events throughout the year. This day was special for everyone involved. These student-athletes did an AMAZING job; it was great watching everyone involved take such pride in our community.
- City-Wide Asset Management Program (CAMP) – With the cost of labor and materials continuing to rise and only modest increases in revenue, local municipalities around the state and country are being asked to “do more with less.” This has made capital & infrastructure projects (roads, sewer, water, etc.) much tougher to fund. However, by creating a maintenance program of applicable infrastructure improvements, we are now able to fix multiple areas of need simultaneously within one larger project. This will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment mobilization and engineering costs over the life of the plan, as we now have a series of overlapping maintenance schedules that allow us to get more done at a much faster rate while saving valuable taxpayer/enterprise dollars. For the overall size of our community, this is a very aggressive approach in maintaining what we have while equally planning for the future.
What else do you hope to accomplish by the age of 40?
It’s my goal to continue to make my sliver of the world a better place. As far as what that entails, I don’t really know, but I know it’ll be because of a team effort and hard work in the end.
In the words of Leslie Knope, former Deputy Director of the Parks Department in Pawnee, IN, I hope to continue “to do work worth doing, alongside people I love.”
- Western Michigan University – Masters of Public Administration (M.P.A.), 2013
- The Ohio State University – Bachelors of Arts (B.A., Political Science), 2009
- South Haven High School, 2005
Paw Paw, MI
Where were you born?
South Haven, MI
What was your first job?
My first job was scooping ice cream on the beach in South Haven. My first job in the public sector was docking boats at South Haven Municipal Marina when I was 16. It was this job that really sparked my interest in local government.
Best advice you ever got?
“Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong.”
Who inspires you most?
No one person comes to mind. However, I’ve been fortunate to have a series of mentors who have supported me and have taken the time to offer advice, guidance, and support over the years. My parents serve as inspiration in that they’ve taught me that if you work hard, do right, and try your best, you can put yourself in a good position to overcome obstacles and find success. My inspiration really comes from humanity. It comes from kindness and seeing that the people of the world to a large percentage are caring, passionate, loving, honest people. Unfortunately, we don’t focus our attention enough on this as a society. If we only look for the bad, then that’s all we’ll ever see. I see a lot of good in the world and it’s always inspiring me to do better and to be better.
That one thing about you we’d be most surprised to learn.
I’m very active in the youth wrestling community where I currently serve as the Co-Director of a 501c3, the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association (MYWAY) – Southwest Region. I also officiate high school wrestling all over the state and have been selected by the MHSAA to officiate 4 of the last 5 State Finals in Detroit.
What do you love to do in your downtime?
What downtime?! In the warmer months I like to play golf and drive/work on my 1987 Jeep Wrangler and in the winter, I can usually be found on a wrestling mat 3-4 days a week.
What book are you reading now?
The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism by Bruce Katz & Jeremy Nowak
Volunteer activity you love the most.
Anything where I get to engage with kids and/or at-risk youth. I enjoy helping manage and organize youth wrestling tournaments during the season with our team MYWAY-SW team and training younger wrestling officials on the finer points/rules of the sport.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
Simply put, I believe it’s the right thing to do.
If we all could just do a little more (within our own means of course) our communities would be a better place. From picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, to playing basketball with the neighborhood kids, to simply thanking a police officer or even waiving to a veteran as you drive by, it’s all about the little things.
I’m fortunate to have roles where I can really make a positive difference. I don’t want to let anyone down or waste this opportunity.
What Superpower would you most love to have?
Time Travel. I’m not sure what I’d do with it, but I would love to be able to watch Neil Armstrong land on the moon, watch Jesse Owens run, and even witness then General George Washington accept the British defeat at Yorktown during the Revolutionary War.
What has been the most eye-opening thing about the coronavirus pandemic for you, personally?
How unprepared we were. In our cities, in our states, in our schools, and in our thinking. I believe at times as Americans we have a certain level of hubris that prevents us from working together to realize mutual goals. “We can do better, we must do better, and we will do better,” but only if we can come together and focus on what unites us, not divides us.
What does the honor of being named to the 40 Under 40 most mean to you?
It’s further confirmation that in my young life I’ve made a noticeable impact. It’s a good feeling to be recognized alongside some amazing and very talented people. I’m truly humbled and honored. However, there’s a lot of work left and I look forward to the challenges ahead.