Monday, September 21, 2020

Mission Possible: Cambria Jones is a Southlake Secret Weapon You May Not Know

Strategic. Focused. Achiever.

To the casual observer, Tourism Marketing Manager Cambria Jones can appear quiet and unassuming, but looking a little closer, it is easy to see that she is a woman on a mission, a force of nature, intent on performing at a very high level. She is willing to get into the game and compete. A great time manager, she works to accomplish as much as she can during her day. An enthusiastic person with great people skills, she can leverage partnerships to get even more done.

She is intent on winning the tourism game and uses her significant intellect and talent to get the job done.

Cambria is an outstanding employee, but she doesn’t seek the limelight for herself. Instead, she works to draw attention to Southlake and encourages visitors to spend time (and money) in the City.

Here are a few highlights of how Cambria has worked to market Southlake as a destination to visitors (think shopping and dining, bolstering sales tax collections, supporting local businesses):

As a result of Cambria’s efforts, followers of Visit Southlake social media accounts have increased significantly. In FY 2019, the Visit Southlake Facebook account had a 42% increase in followers, and the Visit Southlake Instagram account had a 34% increase in followers. Cambria is telling Southlake’s story to more people, in improved ways.

She successfully managed the Visit Southlake video and photography refresh project, resulting in updated assets that are timely, diverse, and representative of Southlake as a destination.

Cambria successfully managed a destination video project, highlighting Southlake. The video is featured as the cover photo on the Visit Southlake Facebook page. She has also audited video assets and prioritized needs for FY 2020.

Throughout 2019, Cambria made significant progress in building rapport with destination partners, including the Hilton Hotel and RPAI (the real estate investment trust that owns most of Town Square). Working together, Cambria and these partners highlight local businesses to strengthen the local economy.

To Alison Ortowski, who oversees economic development and tourism programs for the City, working with Cambria is “a dream.”

“Cambria is one of those employees who possesses the ‘X’ factor that makes her highly productive, but also pleasant and inspirational,” she said. “We have supreme confidence in Cambria’s ability to support local businesses and deliver strong results.”

For her strong commitment to marketing Southlake as a destination of choice and for behind-the-scenes, effective work, Tourism Marketing Manager Cambria Jones is one of Southlake’s best secret weapons and an unsung hero.

Plans to Pavement: How Unsung Hero Mark Cisneros is Getting N. White Chapel Boulevard Built

Greek mythology presents the story of Sisyphus, a ruler condemned to pushing a heavy stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down when it neared the top. Managing construction projects is not completely analogous to the eternal, futile work of Sisyphus (they do eventually conclude and leave us with something of value), but Mark Cisneros might agree that many days his management of the N. White Chapel reconstruction project feels like one hard step forward, two steps back. Yet Mark remains focused, and the project is proceeding successfully thanks to the tenacity and professionalism he brings to the assignment. For his great work, he is being recognized as one of the City’s important unsung heroes.

“Mark’s duties for this project encompass elements of technical aptitude, knowledge of the construction requirements, accounting and customer service,” said Director of Public Works Rob Cohen. “Mark takes true ownership of this project and keeps the project moving when tasks seemed to be lagging, often working with the project superintendent to keep the crews focused and advancing to the next phase. Mark understands the significance of the project to the traveling public and has worked hard and effectively to keep it on track.”

The project has required Mark to…

  • Carefully review contractor payment applications, verify the work was satisfactorily completed and certify the documents needed for payment approval;
  • make decisions in the field that are minor adjustments to the final product and keep the Public Works team informed of these adjustments;
  • keep meticulous notes based on daily observations of project activity, used to document conditions needed to negotiate with contractors on requests for additional time or scope of work changes or make corrections;
  • serve as the contact for all parties involved with the project. This includes coordination among residents, contractors, utilities, and staff. He addresses resident issues regarding site appearance, cleanup, traffic control, and other items;
  • conduct third party material testing. Mark reviews reports to confirm the contracted work meets engineering specifications. He also coordinates with utility providers to resolve conflicts, preventing project delays. He coordinates work and inspections.

“Mark is extremely passionate and takes pride in his projects. He realized the importance of this project to the City, both the organization and the public, very early on and simply refused to lose. He is a great motivator and is the reason that this project remains on schedule,” said Director Cohen. “This has resulted in great outcomes, like being able to open the outside lanes of the roundabout and Highland for the start of the school year.”

Mark’s work will continue as the project manager for Phase 2 of the project.

A Strong Work Ethic With A Dash of Southern Charm, Richard Schell Is An Unsung City Hero

Anyone raised in the south understands that there are certain unwritten rules, and failure to adhere to these basic societal principles just isn’t acceptable. For example, one must always be hospitable and polite, kind and helpful. Many Southerners learn to perfect these traits, believing life will be better for having done so.  And when a person is successful in honing the skills, he or she is regarded as possessing southern charm.  Principal Planner Richard Schell is a fine example of a hard-working, charming gentleman, who carries out his duties with unpretentious courtesy, plenty of respect for others, and a gracious temperament.

Richard is responsible for reviewing development plans and plats for property owners and authoring staff reports for board meetings. When called upon to present the items at a Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, he steps into the spotlight and becomes a well-polished spokesman, presenting complex information, recalling important (and sometimes minute) details, and professionally fielding questions. During FY 2017, the planning team processed 153 development applications, including site plans, specific use permits, comprehensive plan amendments, and plats.  Richard presents the majority of these cases at the P&Z Commission and 2035 Corridor Committee meetings and presents all the cases at the Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings. All of this important work is carried out with quiet confidence and proficiency.

Major projects that Richard has worked on recently include TD Ameritrade, Apple Store, CISD school bond facility projects and major residential projects such as Crescent Heights (57 lots), Town Square Parkview Residences (38 condos), Metairie (56 lots) and Stony Brook (48 lots).

Due to his efforts, review procedures work smoothly. His considerable ability to usher projects through the process serves the City, board members, and our customers very well.  That he is able to achieve it all with a calm and capable demeanor underscores the depth of his talent.

“Richard has an incredible work ethic,” said Ken Baker, Senior Director of Planning and Development Services.  “He works hard and smart, and when it comes time to deliver the work product, he always hits his mark. He arrives before 7:00 a.m. on most days, and is one of the most productive and amiable employees I’ve ever supervised.”

Richard’s manner is always humble, in spite of his considerable skill. His soft, southern drawl makes a strong impression and contributes to his reputation as a well-mannered professional and Southern gentleman.

Thank you for all you do, Richard, and for the way you do it.

Unsung Hero: For Senora Spencer, Good Is Not Necessarily Good Enough

Performance excellence is so important, but may be especially so when an employee is charged with securing and managing evidence in police cases, including high profile items such as DNA, firearms, money, and/or drugs.

The proper storage and safekeeping of physical evidence is crucial in criminal prosecutions, and the individual assigned to manage the property and evidence room has to be committed to the highest level of integrity and excellence.

Senora Spencer has made that commitment in Southlake, and the quality of her work has already been recognized.

“I selected Senora as this year’s ‘Civilian of the Year’ because she has done an extraordinary job of fulfilling her duties,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “Last year she reorganized the property room, which contains over 13,000 pieces of evidence; she’s digitized property room records, and she has taken on the responsibility of assisting with DWI cases. She does all of these things thoroughly and with a very positive attitude.”

In 2017, the property room was inspected on five occasions, two of which included an audit of items in the property room. Senora’s effectiveness was on full display during each inspection, ensuring the successful completion of each.

When you talk with Senora about her job, the passion for her work is obvious. She understands its importance and willingly embraces the responsibility for it.

She proudly shows the rows of carefully organized and labeled boxes, and the before/after photos. She shares the things she has done to streamline processes, all with an eye to helping the Criminal Investigations Division successfully prosecute cases.

In spite of being here for such a short period of time (she joined Southlake’s team in December 2016), Senora has already made a big impact.

For having high standards, achieving important outcomes, and pursuing excellence every day, Senora Spencer has been selected as this quarter’s City of Southlake unsung hero.

Unsung Hero: Vickie DeWees Is Steady & Determined, With a Big Heart

Most days you will find Vickie DeWees processing paperwork in her cubicle in Town Hall, ensuring that payments are made accurately and timely for the goods and services purchased by the City.

With over 7,000 payments processed during a fiscal year, this is no small job, but Vickie manages it all with a sense of urgency and efficiency, a strong commitment to customer service and, most days, a dash of humor. Her ready smile and hearty laughter are clearly one of the reasons it’s so much fun to work in Finance Administration.

But in late November, early December, Vickie transforms into an organizational leader, directing a City holiday service project with conviction and military precision.

For more than 15 years, Vickie has organized a voluntary food and gift drive through Christmas Providers, a non-profit organization that facilitates an “adopt-a-family” program. Vickie is the liaison to the organization, coordinates staff volunteers to purchase and wrap gifts and collect food items, shops for needed items, and coordinates with the selected family. For the past several years, the City of Southlake staff has adopted at least two of the larger families in need due to the generosity of staff throughout the organization.

Vickie’s work has inspired other departments to adopt additional families through Christmas Providers as well. The Community Services, Planning & Development Services, and Public Works Departments are now adopting families through the program, largely due to the inspiration that Vickie has provided.

And, if that were not enough, Vickie personally adopts a family! Christmas Providers is fortunate to work with such a giving and kind volunteer. (Note: Vickie also generously gives to charitable programs sponsored by her church, and on holidays might be found handing out needed items to the homeless. Her kindness really knows no bounds.)

For her steady and efficient work as the City’s Accounts Payable Clerk, the leadership she provides for our voluntary service project, and her wonderful attitude, Vickie has been selected as one of the City’s important unsung heroes.