Port Arthur municipal leaders supercharge with 14-month public manager training

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Following a 14-month program at the University of Houston, two city leaders have earned the distinction as Certified Public Managers.

Director of Public Works Flozelle Roberts and Code Compliance Manager Darlene Thomas-Pierre graduated June 16 at the Texas Capitol from the nationally accredited program focusing on “personnel administration, quality assurance, organizational communication, productivity and program evaluation, information technology and public financing,” according to information from the city.

“It’s for people who are aspiring to be either public managers or those who are public managers who want to gain additional knowledge in that particular area,” Roberts said. “The course has seven different tracks — ethics, IT, finance, different areas a typical public or city manager will address in day-to-day operations.”

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She said they would often look at various case studies throughout the program, addressing certain areas, and learn from their peers in the class. Together the 24 members of their cohort would brainstorm through issues.

“Our cohort was comprised of people from not only municipalities but also from the public sector, public health, tourism, different areas,” Thomas-Pierre said. “But our cohort was like a think tank because we were able to pick each other’s brains and we were able to give them input and maybe insight into things maybe they didn’t see the way we saw.

“We were able to walk through some real-world problems and propose some solutions, so it was a great benefit. I’m very grateful to have had that experience to connect with some brilliant people in different industries.”

Both said it gave invaluable knowledge to help them not only in their respective jobs, but to work with other city leaders.

“This was an opportunity to gain some additional knowledge to enhance our leadership capabilities and also for the city as a whole,” Thomas-Pierre said. “Anything that we learned, we bring it back to the city in order to enhance what we do here.”

Roberts said as the city is currently working on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, they are able to rely on skills learned during the program.

“It’s almost immediate application,” she said. “Some things you’re listening to and learning — for instance finance. We had our finance session in March and April, and that’s right before we started going into budget season.”

Despite having graduated from the course, Roberts and Thomas-Pierre said they remain in contact with their cohort and are grateful to have had the networking experience that has also created lasting friendships.

Three other city leaders, including City Manager Ron Burton, graduated from the program last year.