Chris Thompson
Director of Public Services
High Point, N.C.

In the winter of 2002-03, two ice storms created mountains of debris in High Point's streets and rights of way. Chris Thompson rallied volunteers from other city divisions to open roadways for emergency vehicles while coordinating with the electric department to ensure that debris entangled with power lines was cleared and safe before allowing personnel to remove it.

It's all in a day's work for Thompson, who manages his 306-employee department as well as water and wastewater labs. He gives employees the authority to resolve issues directly with customers so they can be more responsive in daily — and emergency — situations.

“He wants you to have that comfort in making decisions because that's what helps our customers,” says Public Services Analyst Chip Vanderzee. “For instance, when we renegotiated billing methods and rates, he allowed me to take the lead and gave me the latitude to work around details that would've slowed the process and cost our city money. Chris' trust and confidence make me more comfortable making decisions.”

According to Vanderzee, Thompson appreciates the hard work staff members do each day, and is always quick to rally around an employee when something happens. “We've had co-workers battle serious health issues, and Chris has been supportive both at work and in their personal lives,” he says.

“Seeing Chris help an employee work through a difficult time helped me become more sensitive toward helping my co-workers,” he says. “And seeing this type of appreciation has made me more aware of how I can be a better leader and more supportive of others.”