Richard Keeney
Public Works Director
Punta Gorda, Fla.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley completely destroyed Punta Gorda's public works facility. But even though it had also severely damage his own home, Richard Keeney and his team began restoring essential services — immediately. Streets were opened to traffic within 24 hours and debris was removed within three months.

“I was tasked with working during the storm in the emergency operations center, remaining there for two days after the storm,” recalls Keeney's executive assistant, Tracy Quintana. “I was making decisions and working side-by-side with directors and city council members. This wouldn't have been possible without knowing I had Rick's support and confidence in my decisions.”

It's Keeney's lesson of confidence that helped employees put the city's emergency plan to instant action. Throughout his 30-year tenure with Punta Gorda, he's helped individuals as well as the town advance.

Quintana, for instance, was hired into public works as a secretary, but Keeney encouraged her to learn more about the department. As she learned, she became more interested in expanding her responsibilities.

“He was very supportive of the goals I set for myself, including my decision to return to college,” says Quintana. Two years ago she received an associate's degree in business management, and she has recently earned a bachelor's degree in management. “Through it all, Rick was always willing to let me take on new tasks that allowed me to not only gain experience, but also improve policies and procedures within the department.”