Meet Your Manager - Denise Bevan
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I will prepare and one day, my chance will come.”
After 14 years of preparation, hard work and optimism, a chance to lead did finally come for longtime City employee, Denise Bevan. She was appointed Interim City Manager by the Palm Coast City Council from her position as Chief of Staff on June 1, 2021. And there’s no doubt about her focal point for residents.
“My immediate goals are simply to serve by being responsive to citizen’s needs, to support City Council and this community in this transition,” Bevan said. “My focus will be moving the organization forward with the amazing staff, through consistency and an understanding of the budget process to further the vision of the City. That is my highest priority.”
Bevan joined the City on Feb. 26, 2007 as a Senior Environmental Planner. Her role was to guide City officials and the public towards sound decision making regarding natural, cultural and historical resources existing in Palm Coast. The position facilitated opportunities to enhance the environment and quality of life for Palm Coast citizens through educational outreach, land management, in-house services, conservation initiatives and regulatory oversight.
That same year Bevan achieved Certified Floodplain Manager through the Association of State Floodplain Managers and increased her status to Floodplain Administrator in 2016. In this capacity, she coordinated the activities necessary to ensure Palm Coast’s designation in the Community Rating System, which is a program for communities to participate in to mitigate flood impacts. Through her expertise, the City has one of the best ratings in the state and nation allowing residents to be eligible for reduced flood insurance premiums.
In 2014, she was promoted to City Administration Coordinator which built upon the planning and technical knowledge she amassed in her previous position. She also coordinated the City of Palm Coast’s sustainability initiatives and the Strategic Action Plan process that supports and implements City Council’s Goals.
In April of this year, Bevan was elevated to Chief of Staff of Infrastructure, a position designed to align the demands of the organization and provide direct support to the City Manager. The position serves to grow empowerment and inspiration across all departments with a focus on building trust while removing barriers.
Throughout the years, there were many activities that prepared Bevan for advancement. These included City teams such as the Floodplain Management; Innovation; Green; X-Generation which focused on establishing social media channels; and the inaugural Leadership Intern Training Experience Team. This team served as the nursery to the Strategic Action Plan that has been tracking budget, goals and performance since 2011. Through this initiative, Bevan assisted alongside staff members to form the process used by the City today. She worked directly with City Council members to develop their annual priorities and align them with the budget. Respected by staff and management for her thoughtful ideas and trusted guidance, Bevan earned a reputation for those same qualities she always sought to deliver: to serve, provide sound decision making, and offer optimism.
Bevan’s knowledge spans beyond the borders of Palm Coast and Flagler County. She successfully completed numerous trainings to grow as a leader while understanding regional matters. In 2013, she completed the Regional Leadership Academy through Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC). She currently serves on the Regional Community Institute of Northeast Florida, Inc. Board and was most recently a contributor to the Northeast Florida COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
A common thread among staff is that she was and is seen as a pillar in local government, even before earning her leadership titles. Bevan has been a trusted advisor, colleague and friend to countless employees and also shared her wealth of knowledge by mentoring numerous interns, many of whom have gone on to enjoy careers in planning and environmental arenas throughout the state.
So through a recession, an economic upswing, a pandemic and all the changes in between, when the moment came for the City Council to appoint an interim city manager, she was prepared to serve the community, as she has done for 14 years.
“When I came on with the City in 2007 as their senior environmental planner, my personal agenda was to be the best professional I could for the City. My passion was driven for the environment and making sure that the organization got better from what I provided,” said Bevan. “What I see is, when a path is put in front of me and that decision comes about, I always treat it with opportunity and optimism.”
Bevan has helped garner the City several accolades such as the designation for Green Local Government in 2009 and 2015; the Regional Award for Excellence in Resilience for the Floodplain and Stormwater Management Program from the Northeast Florida Regional Council; and a Voice of the People Award which honors local governments based on residents feedback in annual surveys.
Bevan was born in Alabama into an Army family. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Ecology and minor in English from Jacksonville State University.
Following college, she and her family moved to St. Johns County where she worked for an environmental consulting firm. After visiting Flagler County from time-to-time to work with clients or enjoy the amenities, Bevan noticed the thoughtfully planned community and its blend of nature in development and joined the City within a few years of becoming a Floridian. Ultimately, this was a move that served her well.
“What I would like the citizens to know is that I’m your neighbor, I live here in the city of Palm Coast, I enjoy the trails on the weekends, it’s one of my most pleasurable things to do with my dog and with my friends, and I really have seen this city grow since I’ve been here and even before as I’ve been able to visit the city,” Bevan said. “So I really believe in this city and its citizens, and this organization and I can’t wait to take it to the next level.”
The Council/Manager Form of Government
The council-manager form of local government combines the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a council with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager. Approximately 59 percent of U.S. cities with populations of 25,000 or more, and 47 percent of U.S. cities with populations of 5,000 or more have adopted the council-manager form.
The Mayor and City Council members act as the political head of the city. They are responsible for setting policy, approving the budget, determining the tax rate, and formulating broad long-term policies that outline the City's public function. The manager is appointed by council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. The manager makes policy recommendations to the council, but the council may or may not adopt them and may modify the recommendations. The manager is bound by whatever action the council takes.
Responsibilities of the City Manager's Office
The primary responsibility of a city manager is to implement the policies of the elected City Council. In addition, in the council-manager government, the manager assumes responsibility for:
- Directing day-to-day operations;
- Preparing the annual budget;
- Overseeing personnel matters;
- Recommending policies or programs to the City Council;
- Keeping the council fully advised of the financial and other conditions of the city; and
- Supplying the council with information to aid decision making