2020 Award for Career Excellence in Memory of Mark E. Keane

Wayne C. Parker, ICMA-CM, Chief Administrative Officer, Provo, Utah

Wayne C. Parker, ICMA-CM

Chief Administrative Officer

City of Provo, Utah 

 

As the chief administrative officer of Provo, Utah, Wayne Parker describes his role as the city’s “Chief Quality of Life Officer.” He demonstrates this through his commitment to developing partnerships in the community and region, being communicative and transparent, fostering organizational excellence, and focusing his energies and those of the organization on ensuring a high quality of life in the midst of significant local growth and diversity. This is no easy task, as Provo is the third-largest city in the state and the center of the nation’s third fastest-growing metropolitan area.

After receiving a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University (BYU), Parker interned in Kansas City, Missouri, where he learned at the feet of such role models as Bob Kipp, L. P. Cookingham, David Olson, and Mark Keane. Before going to Provo, he served in several chief administrator positions and in the Utah governor’s office. His experience in both council-manager and mayor-council cities has taught him the value of relationships with elected officials and the critical role of local government professionals in both forms of government. When reflecting on the current state of affairs, Parker mused:

"We find ourselves in a time of unprecedented societal change, I’m convinced that we hold the key to getting through the challenge and coming out on the other end better and more resilient as we lead and influence our communities for good."

When asked to describe Parker’s management style, Provo employees use words like collaborative, communicative, vision-focused, strategic, and trustworthy. He has consistently supported young professionals, and many of his former interns have chosen careers in local government. As a member of ICMA’s Advisory Board on Graduate Education and as a site visitor for NASPAA (the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration), he has worked to develop a high-quality pipeline to fill the future ranks of the profession.

Parker has also been a member of the board of the Utah City/County Management Association, serving as its ethics committee chair, and he has served on numerous other boards at BYU and at the local and state levels.

As Provo’s manager, Parker has:

  • Assembled and staffed a visioning and strategic planning effort to help bridge divides in the community.
  • Worked collaboratively with city departments, the private sector, and residents to develop a community center in a disadvantaged neighborhood, fund and develop a nationally recognized community recreation center, revitalize an economically struggling historic downtown, and replace/upgrade aging city and public safety buildings.
  • Developed a plan to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit in Provo to support startup and early-stage businesses.
  • Created the city’s first resident engagement strategic plan and an engagement toolkit for city departments.
  • Spearheaded the replacement of the city’s legacy software with an advanced integrated solution and robust e-government capabilities.
  • Led the city’s efforts during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009 to right-size the city organization and develop a 10-year sustainable budget model.
  • Consolidated the city’s development-related services into a single department to increase accountability and improve performance.
  • Led the effort to build one of the first municipally owned “fiber to the home” projects in 2004 and helped negotiate and implement the eventual sale of the network to Google Fiber to become the third Google Fiber city.
  • Developed, in partnership with United Way and Google, a digital inclusion program.
  • Led the city’s efforts with the Utah Transit Authority to bring commuter rail and bus rapid transit (the first in Utah) to Provo and neighboring Orem.
  • Hired the city’s first sustainability coordinator and supported the aggressive development of alternative energy sources in partnership with the Utah Municipal Power Agency.
  • Provo has consistently ranked highly in listings of “best” cities for management, housing, work/life balance, livability, and other assets. While not all rankings are perfect, they still suggest that many things are going right. For Parker, however, the statistics that matter most are the opinions of the residents he serves, and he has clearly achieved success, with approval ratings for city services and programs in the 85% range.

Parker regularly tells people that he wakes up every morning grateful to be a part of such an amazing community and to be able to facilitate community efforts to make life better—every single day. Those who work with him wake up every morning grateful he is at the helm of their city.

Advertisement