Friday, March 24, 2023

Interim City Manager Garza Announces Staff Reorganization to Improve Organizational Cohesiveness and Reliability of Service


Changes to Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer portfolios  

Today, City of Austin Interim City Manager Jesús Garza announced a reorganization of the portfolios for the assistant city managers and chief financial officer. The changes are being made to prioritize the public’s needs and ensure reliability of services for Austinites.  

“I have assessed the inner workings of this organization and believe changes are needed to position us for the best possible service delivery now and into the future,” Jesús Garza, Interim City Manager, City of Austin, said. “My highest priority is to organize our people and our work so that we are operating cohesively and focused on problem-solving. I believe this structure will be conducive to reducing process redundancies and to operating at the highest efficiency.” 

Garza laid out the changes, which are focused on action and customer service, in a memo to the City Council and City of Austin department directors that is included following this release. Changes are effective immediately. Major tenets of the reorganization include: 

  • The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will report directly to the City Manager.  

  • A new executive position is being created for strategic communications and external affairs reporting directly to the City Manager.   

  • Shifting Assistant City Manager department assignments as offices are consolidated.  

  • Creating a Planning Department to allow for equal focus on the importance of affordable housing and planning in our community. This includes hiring Lauren Middleton-Pratt to serve as the new Planning Director effective May 1st. 

Garza also made clear how he is approaching his interim role and what his priorities are as interim city manager.  

“We need to deliver basic city services with excellence and reliability while supporting the City Council’s highest priorities and ensuring we are making meaningful progress on those priorities. I cannot emphasize enough the importance and value of teamwork, encouraging innovation and promoting high standards for public service within this organization.” 



TO: Department Directors  

FROM: Interim City Manager Jesús Garza  

DATE: March 24, 2023  

RE: ACM and CFO assignments  

I have had the opportunity to meet with you and further assess the organization's strengths. I have since identified opportunities to position us for the best possible service delivery now and into the future.  

My purpose in leading the organization is to focus on 1) delivering basic city services with excellence and reliability 2) supporting the Mayor and City Council’s highest priorities and ensuring we are making meaningful progress on those priorities and 3) emphasizing the values of teamwork, encouraging innovation within the organization, and promoting high standards for public service. 

All of this requires a bias to action and a strong alignment between the Mayor, City Council, and the organization.  

My highest priority is to organize our people and our work so that the organization is operating cohesively and supports an integrated approach to problem solving and enterprise-wide thinking. This structure must be conducive to reducing processes, redundancies, and inefficiencies. 

I want to reinforce leadership behaviors that nurture alternate and innovative strategies that are practical, sound and challenge the designers of our process to address the issues faced by the community and our customers.  

To accomplish these goals with these values, I am making the following organizational changes effective immediately:  

  1. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will report directly to the City Manager. As part of that change, the Fleet Mobility Services Director and Building Services Officer will now report to the CFO. 
  2. I am creating a new executive position of Strategic Communications and External Affairs, reporting directly to the City Manager. The Intergovernmental Relations Officer and the Chief Communications Director will report to this new position.  
  3. I am also promoting Sammi Curless to Assistant to the City Manager and the Agenda Office and Council Liaison Kay Guedea will report to Sammi.  
  4. Ken Snipes will be on special assignment to lead an evaluation of our Emergency Operations functions and he will be a Special Assistant to Bruce Mills.  
  5. Jason Alexander will be on special assignment to the Airport and will be helping Jim Smith, Interim Director, in his assessment of airport operations.  

I also believe that it is healthy for our organization to occasionally rotate portfolios among Assistant City Managers to bring new perspectives to important issues and challenges. To that end, below are the new Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer assignments:  

The following Departments will continue to report directly to the City Manager:  

  •  Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy, General Manager 
  •  Anne Morgan, Law Department, City Attorney 
  •  Sylvia Hardman, Office of Police Oversight, Interim Director 

Chief Financial Officer, Ed Van Eenoo  

  • Financial Services Department, Ed Van Eenoo, CFO 
  • Fleet Mobility, Jennifer Walls, Director  
  • Building Services, Darrell Alexander, Officer  

Interim Assistant City Manager Robert Goode  

  • Public Works and Austin Transportation, Richard Mendoza, Interim Director  
    • Austin Transportation, Public Works, the Corridor Program Office, and the Project Connect Office will be consolidated into a Public Works and Transportation Department with each of the Officers reporting to the Director.  

  • Austin Water Utility, Shay Ralls Roalson, Director  
  • Watershed Protection, Jorge Morales, Director  
  • Aviation, Jim Smith, Interim Executive Director  

• Capital Delivery Services Department–this will be a new department fully dedicated to capital program implementation and more detail will follow regarding the purview and responsibilities.  

Assistant City Manager Veronica Briseño 

  • Development Services Department, José Roig, Interim Director 
    • Austin Code will be consolidated under Development Services with Interim Director Daniel Word reporting to José Roig.  

  • Housing Department, Rosie Truelove, Director  
  • Planning Department, David Gray, Interim Director 
    • Lauren Middleton-Pratt will be the Director effective May 1st and has over 10 years of urban planning and development experience in both the private and public sectors.  

  • Economic Development Department, Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director  
  • Austin Convention Center, Trish Tatro, Director  
  • Small and Minority Business Resources Department, Edward Campos, Director 

Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales  

  • Human Resources, Rebecca Kennedy, Acting Director  
  • Communications and Technology Management (CTM), Kerrica Laake, Interim Director beginning April 1st 
    • The Chief Information Security Officer and Interim Chief Innovation Officer will be consolidated into CTM. Chris Stewart has agreed to stay on for 6 months to assist Kerrica with this important transition.  

  • Sustainability Office, Zachary Baumer, Interim Officer  
  • Resilience Office, Laura Patiño, Officer  
  • Equity Office, Kellee Coleman, Interim Officer  
  • Civil Rights, Tamela Saldaña, Interim Director  
  • Labor Relations Office, Sarah Griffin, Interim Officer  

Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard  

  • Austin Public Library, Roosevelt Weeks, Director  
  • Austin Parks and Recreation, Kimberly McNeeley, Director  
  • Austin Public Health, Adrienne Sturrup, Director  
  • Animal Services, Don Bland, Director  
  • Austin Resource Recovery, Richard McHale, Acting Director 

Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills

  • Austin Police Department, Joseph Chacon, Chief  
  • Austin Fire Department, Joel Baker, Chief  
  • Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Robert Luckritz, Chief  
  • Downtown Austin Community Court, Robert Kingham and Jennifer Sowinski, Interim Court Administrators  
  • Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Ken Snipes, Special Assistant to the Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills  
  • Forensic Science, Dr. Dana Kadavy, Director  
  • Office of the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Mark Escott, Director  

As you know, I have a bias for action and timely decision making. The organization needs to move more quickly and decisively. The leadership traits I am prioritizing are: 

  • A strong customer orientation as we evaluate and alter processes;
  • Strong organizational and critical thinking skills; 
  • Ability to assess the entire landscape and downstream effects of decisions on the community and other departments; and  
  • The ability to embrace, model and nurture the value structure within the department. Thank you for your dedication to your role and the people of this city and for your commitment to ensuring we are continually looking for ways to improve our services. 

Additional information:

Lauren Middleton-Pratt became the Assistant City Manager for Buda, Texas in April of 2019. She brings more than 10 years of urban planning and development experience to the Outdoor Capital of Texas. As ACM, Middleton-Pratt has overseen Buda’s Development Services Department which includes Planning & Zoning, Engineering, Building Inspections, and Code Enforcement, Tourism, Main Streets, Communications & Marketing, Parks & Recreations and Facilities Management. Prior to city management, Lauren worked in urban planning in both public and private sectors from city-wide redevelopment projects in Boston, Massachusetts to consulting the United State Air Force and higher education institutions with their real estate development demands. Lauren is a native of San Antonio, Texas with strong roots in New Orleans, Louisiana where she earned a BA in Communications & Business Administration from Xavier University of Louisiana. She also holds a Master of City Planning degree from Boston University. Lauren is active in the Texas City Management Association, currently serving as a member of the Allies Across Texas subcommittee and an E-Board member for the Women Leading Government Central Texas Chapter; she is a 2020 graduate of the Texas Women’s Leadership Institute which is a program focused on preparing and empowering women to become city managers; a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.