Thursday, March 2, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Hensley appointed interim assistant city manager

Interim City Manager Elaine Hart has named Parks and Recreation Department Director Sara Hensley interim assistant city manager upon the retirement of Sue Edwards on March 17. Hart announced Hensley’s promotion, as well as rearrangement of some staffing assignments, in a memo to the mayor and City Council.

“As Interim City Manager, I reconfirm that I will not permanently fill a vacant ACM position, but reserve that opportunity for the permanent city manager when selected,” Hart wrote.

Kimberly McNeeley, an assistant director in PARD, will take over as interim director of the department. McNeeley has been assistant director since 2010. Her career in parks began in 1992 and includes service with other cities and school districts.

Edwards became the assistant city manager for development services in 2008, with oversight of the Development Services Department, Planning and Zoning Department, the Watershed Protection Department, the Aviation Department and the Office of Real Estate Services. She is also currently in charge of the Sustainability and Innovation offices.

Assistant City Manager Bert Lumbreras, who oversees community services departments, is being reassigned as the assistant city manager over the Development Services area upon Edwards’ retirement. He will also continue in his role as staff liaison to the city clerk.

Lumbreras will also continue to oversee the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department, which is being transferred to the development services group, according to Hart’s memo.

However, Hart said in her memo that she wants to make sure that “Lumbreras has sufficient time to devote to CodeNEXT, monitoring the phased implementation of Zucker recommendations, expansion of the Airport, and other important initiatives of this service group.”

“To that end,” she wrote, “I am moving certain service group components to other service groups to which there are synergies.” That includes moving the Economic Development Department to Financial Services under Greg Canally, whose current title is interim chief financial officer, and moving the Innovation Office to the support services group under Assistant City Manager Mark Washington. In addition, the Office of Sustainability will report to Chief of Staff Ray Baray, Hart said.

Lumbreras is the only assistant city manager who indicated an interest in applying to be Austin’s city manager.

Hart is also moving the Office of Real Estate Services to the community services group under Hensley. That group also includes Animal Services, Austin Public Health, the Austin Public Library and, of course, the Parks and Recreation Department.

Hensley has been in this service group since 2008 when she joined the city as director of PARD. Hart wrote, “She is familiar with the initiatives and issues of this service group and ready to oversee” the various departments.

Hensley told the Austin Monitor that she is excited about her new job. “I kind of had a good education because I worked with Animal Services and Health and others in our service group,” she said, adding that the individuals in those departments “are good at collaborating.”

Hensley said she would help present the budget with McNeeley, but McNeeley would be in charge during the summer budget process.

Before coming to Austin, Hensley was director for the Parks and Recreation Department in Phoenix. Hart wrote, “Along with solid leadership skills accumulated over almost two decades working in the parks and recreation field, she has a proven track record of getting results and a demonstrated commitment to community involvement, youth and neighborhood services. Prior to her work in Phoenix, she was Director for Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services for the City of San Jose, California.”

Edwards has more than 20 years of public service experience, including leadership posts in both Travis County and the city. She was director of EMS from 1994 to 2000.

In addition to her work with the city and the county, Edwards has almost 10 years of private sector experience in establishing and managing SPE Associates, a consulting firm, according to the city’s official bio. In her time with SPE, she specialized in small business development and property tax consulting. Edwards’ expertise includes city redevelopment projects, especially in leading negotiations on public-private agreements.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

city manager: The city manager oversees the administrative segment of the City of Austin and is one of four Council direct reports.

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: The city department responsible for the city's park system, rec centers, and associated infrastructure.

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