Profiles in Power highlights public officials nationwide who are improving their communities through their dedication, enthusiasm, creativity and experience.
This week’s profile is Greg Chavarria, city manager of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Public career highlights and education: I hold a civil engineering and environmental degree, bachelor’s. I also hold a master’s in management of information systems. I started my first job in public service at the age of 14 as an intern for the port of Miami. That experience opened my eyes to the opportunity of being a public servant.
What I like best about public service: What I love about what I do is that I get to help shape the future and also bring opportunities for many that perhaps don’t know about the potential of what government can do. And also, I look forward to every day making it better and making it easier for individuals to access services and support from their local government. So that’s something that is dear to me. I love what I do and do what I love. Certainly, that’s what makes me tick.
I’ve been helping a lot of people along the way and also been sponsoring programs that can support innovation and opportunity and progress for many.
The best advice I’ve received: Whenever making a decision you have to think about the future, look 10 years ahead, 20 years ahead. What will we say about the decision that we make today? How will our decision bear, benefit, bring opportunities and/or improve the quality of life of individuals? So, every time I make a decision, it’s important for me to think about future outcomes, future potential and the quality of life, its benefits. That weighs into every decision that I make. Also, I bring those values when I have to bring a decision before a board that requires a decision.
People might be interested to know that: Well, I have humble beginnings. I was born in Nicaragua, a country with a very restrictive government, not the best for its citizens. Here in the U.S. we have the ability to shape government, to be involved in government. Some people may not know that fact, you know, that they have an opportunity to help formulate outcomes. By being involved and engaged in their local municipality, in their local government, understanding what policies are being developed for the elected officials to vote.
Where I came from, Nicaragua, is very different, very challenging for people to be involved in. I think I am very fortunate to serve as a public servant here in the U.S., where we have a democratic system that supports transparency and accountability.
One thing I wish more people knew about local governments: I wish more people would know about how they can get involved, how they can help formulate policy and support progress. I think it is important that individuals know that there are opportunities to develop business with government. For instance, if you have a skill set or if you had a good service that would make government or the community better. I think individual citizens should know more about the procurement process and to do business with government. Again, be involved. I also wish that more people knew how policies are developed and how they could be a part of the decision-making process, budget development.
There are a variety of tools available to the public at large that make it easy to be involved with local government, policy making, and shaping the future of our communities. And for public officials, I urge them to continually improve transparency and accessibility for all in our communities.