John Herzke
John Herzke

Vice President
Clark Nexsen, Virginia Beach, Va.
Employees: 475

John Herzke’s spent the last 11 years working for the engineering firm Clark Nexsen. For three decades before that, he managed traffic in Virginia Beach, Virginia’s most populous city with almost 450,000 residents. By the time he retired in 2005, the 1971 Old Dominion University graduate was chief operating officer as well.

That means Herzke has plenty of experience managing the expectations of residents and elected officials. His legacy includes a team-building tool we’re sure his successors appreciate: Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC).

Treat city council members as part of the public works team.

Public works advisory committees bring together elected and appointed officials, residents and business owners to collaborate on major projects. Public hearings became more relaxed and less confrontational, making it easier to achieve design outcomes that satisfy all stakeholders.

To avert miscommunication, Herzke emailed committee members monthly project updates. He provided more detailed information, along with year-to-date budget figures in the context of the city’s capital improvements program, during weekly council meetings.

Herzke thinks it’s important to educate city council members so they feel more like part of the team.

"It'll help build consensus," he says.