Q&A with West Chester’s incoming administrator. What does he have in mind for the township?

New hire is looking forward to forging new relationships.

Larry D. Burks will assume his role as West Chester Twp.’s administrator on Feb. 19. We spoke with Burks to find out more as he is welcomed into his new position.

Prior to taking the post, Mr. Burks has served as an assistant city manager of Bellevue, Neb. He will replace former West Chester Administrator Judi Boyko who resigned in August 2017 after a 13-year career as West Chester’s administrator. Boyko now serves as Hamilton County’s assistant county administrator.

Mr. Burks has a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska. He has been employed by the City of Bellevue since 2012, having previously served as City administrator, zoning administrator and economic development coordinator for the City of Onawa, Iowa.

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Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: My family consists of my wife, Katie and two sons Tom (10) and Jack (7).

I grew up in Nebraska with two brothers and two sisters in a small community. There were 44 kids in my graduating class, which meant that we could participate in everything we wanted to – football, baseball, basketball, and the arts. There was a strong sense of community.

Public administration is a second career for me. I first worked as a sheet press operator. It was a very physical job and the industry was going through big changes. I wanted to move to more of an administration type job and so I enrolled in college in 2001.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the time but started out with environmental studies with an emphasis in geography and planning. Through my studies and an internship, I was introduced to public administration and it was something that really interested me.

Q: Of your accomplishments to date, Is there one thing you’re most proud of? Why?

A: Landing the West Chester Township Administrator job is a great accomplishment. The community is well respected, and I'm humbled to have this opportunity to serve.

The accomplishment for which I’m most proud in my current position would be establishing Bellevue as an Economic Development Certified Community by the Nebraska Diplomats. Today, Bellevue, NE is often targeted for economic development related projects, but that was not always the case.

The time commitment and work detail required to receive the Certified Community designation was substantial. With assistance from some of Bellevue’s economic development partners, we were able to complete the application, expedite the process and receive the designation which has helped to put Bellevue at the top of many economic developer’s lists.

Similarly, I had the opportunity to work on a multi-jurisdictional project that put the foundation in place for a 1,000-acre industrial rail-served development. Working with a wide range of public and private partners, we were able to set the project on course and do most of the work without taxpayer dollars.

Anytime I can assemble a team and collaborate to achieve a goal benefitting the community, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Q: What are some of your hobbies or interests when you are not working?

A: My family occupies most of my free time. I enjoy spending time with my wife and sons and the best times are usually spent watching movies together or participating in activities. We enjoy all kinds of activities - billiards, fishing, archery, all sports really. Recently, I helped coach my son's youth football team and the experience reignited my love and passion for the game. I have never loved football more than I do today.

We look forward to settling down in the community and finding ways to get involved in the schools, youth sports and all the other types of activities that families with young children seek.

Q: What are you most excited about as far as taking on your new role?

A: Forging new relationships within the organization and the community. The best part of my job is the people I get to meet and work with along the way.

I plan to jump right in and get to know all aspects of the community from the perspective of West Chester’s new administrator and from the perspective of a new resident.

Q: Prior to moving to Ohio from Nebraska, you served in governmental role there. Can you tell us about that experience?

A: Essentially, economic development received my immediate attention in my position in Bellevue. I focused energy on making Bellevue attractive for economic development and encouraging responsible development for the benefit of the community.

Organizational projects for Bellevue were also part of my role including strategic planning for the various departments and incorporating data in our operations.

My duties also included supervision of the Economic Development Program, Permits & Inspections and Public Relations/Communications. Finally, I served on a variety of boards and committees that served the Omaha metropolitan region as Bellevue, NE’s representative.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a leader?

A: Collaborative, empowering and decisive.

Q: What leadership characteristics do you feel like you will bring to the role?

A: I prefer an open and supportive communication style which will allow those in West Chester Township’s leadership positions to lead their departments with confidence. I am a strong advocate of empowering directors to do their jobs to the best of their ability, while holding myself accountable for overall organizational success.

From what I have seen, West Chester has a strong team of leaders already in place. Over time, the characteristics of strong, supportive communication and a strong individual sense of accountability will be embedded within the organizational culture.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

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