Jim Proce
Jim Proce

Assistant City Manager
Rowlett, Texas
Employees: 21 public works employees
Population Served: 60,000
Budget: $108 million

We’re not 100% sure, but we’d be surprised if many city managers had more formal education than Jim Proce.

Bachelor’s degree, Rollins College, 1996. Business degree, University of Central Florida. Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Training Program. It's all been put to excellent use.

Elected officials are people, too.

When he joined Rowlett in 2013, the Texas city had let training, certification, and licensing lapse. Proce resurrected continuing education and involved employees in developing the first strategic plan for the five-division public works department: CIP Engineering, Stormwater Management, Street/Traffic, Wastewater Utility, and Water Utility.

“When all else fails – and it will – your job as a public works superhero is to take the bullet and love every minute of it,” Proce told them.

In addition to uniting 21 public works employees, the process of developing mission and vision statements, customer service processes, an annual work plan and long-term goals accomplished something that’s extremely difficult: It changed the department’s culture. Teamwork improved, of course, but employees also allocate resources with a focus on continuous improvement.

According to Proce, treating elected officials as real people is the first step in developing productive relationships.

“I’ve seen local government folks lose sight of that fact,” he says. “They act as if officials are royalty and fall all over themselves trying to please them.”