Holds degrees from University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and University of Arizona; completed program for government executives at Harvard University.
Wife Anne-Marie Russell is executive director of Sarasota Museum of Art.
You formerly managed Tucson, Arizona;
population 500,000-plus. How does that compare to managing a small community?: All communities are comprised of people with unique
cultures and histories. Successfully managing a municipality requires that one
learn, understand, and embrace the past as well as the future. I’m particularly
fond of medium and smaller organizations because it affords the opportunity to
get to know the employees and the citizens to a much greater extent. Otherwise,
the scale between managing an organization of 120 employees versus 6,000 isn’t
that much different.
It is relevant to note that I had the privilege of managing
the town of Marana, Arizona. At the time, it was the fastest-growing community
in Arizona. Marana’s motto was “Come Grow with Us,” and it was converting from
agriculture (cotton) to residential and commercial. There are striking
parallels between where Marana was as a community and where Groveland is from a
What brought you to Groveland?: I came to Florida to support my
wife’s career path. She is the executive director of the new Sarasota Art
Museum currently under construction with Ringling College in Sarasota. I was
looking for a challenging position, and an executive search consultant reached
out to me and asked me to visit. Once I met the people of the community and
within the government, I was just inspired with a sense of incredible
possibilities and optimism. Shortly after I signed on, that was reinforced by
the incredible ethic of the employees and examples like Ms. Hope Brownlee, who
single-handedly installed a little library and has maintained it for the
New projects in Groveland?: The community is poised to break ground on three significant capital projects that have been in the works for a number of years. The mayor and council will start construction on a new park on Wilson Lake Parkway and a new public safety facility on State Road 50. Also, improvements to Lake David Park will get underway. Not only is the community going to see physical improvements, the community will engage in conversations about the future and see a community committed to the environment and inclusive participation.
Long-term goals for the city?:
My long-term goal is informed through conversations with the mayor and council
and citizens. The collective vision of Groveland is to be the city of choice
for those who value economic, social, and cultural success through the
celebration of Groveland’s history, natural beauty, diversity, and community
Do you have an idol among government leaders?: There are many
who have served with humility and dignity. One that in particular comes to
mind is (Marana) Mayor Ora Mae Harn. As an elected official and a citizen,
she consistently, and quite consciously, sacrificed her personal interests (and
re-elections) for the benefit of generations she never would have the
opportunity to meet. I also include the numerous citizens that took time and
courage to vocalize their thoughts, as an engaged community inspires the
leaders who represent them. For anyone who says, “a person can’t change
City Hall,” they haven’t tried.
Better barbecue—Arizona or Florida?: Well, Florida, of course! But, Arizona still has the Sonoran hot dog, which simply cannot be beat among culinary treasures. Both states share commonalities and have been positively influenced by their Hispanic-era histories, and extraordinary food traditions are certainly no exception.
Favorite movie: “The Philadelphia Story,” with Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant.
Favorite phone app: MyRadar.
Hobbies: Motorcycles, tennis, and visiting museums.
Pet peeve: I find that a lack of gratitude contributes to less-appealing behavior among human beings.