Traci Gresham

Traci Gresham
City Manager of Alachua

Describe your role as city manager.

I manage the day to day operations of Alachua’s municipal government. This includes core services such as police, public works, utilities, recreation and general government services. I ensure our operations are efficient, fiscally prudent and contribute to an improved quality of life for our community. Through the City Commission’s policy directives, I implement their goals and vision for Alachua.

Describe your leadership style. How do you lead and how do you tackle challenges?

My leadership style can be described as an inclusive approach to building a team-based environment. I believe we can achieve the best results for our community when we work together and allow ideas from all stakeholders to be heard and vetted. I also maintain an open-door policy that fosters input and ensures approachability. The first step in tackling challenges is to make certain the challenge is fully framed with all information available. From there, I work with a team of professionals to develop the best approach and alternatives to address the issue at hand. I firmly believe challenges are opportunities, and if the team approaches challenges with that in mind, we will be able to transition difficult situations into successes. At times, this process can be lengthy due to the amount of stakeholders and complexities of the challenge. However, there are times when challenges require immediate action. In those cases, I rely on my experience and input from my team to make the best decision given those time constraints.

How do you facilitate unity within a group?

In order for a team of people to work well together, they first must value each other. When people respect and value the work of their teammates, they will work harder with them and want to succeed together. I have implemented various professional development programs over the years to encourage team unity and build working relationships. I also believe in recognizing the successes of individuals and how their work has contributed to the overall benefit of the team, and ultimately to our community.

How have you learned to build up confidence as a leader? What leadership skills can people who aren’t natural leaders develop?

My confidence in leadership has been cultivated from my experiences. Whatever role I have assumed during my career, and I have performed to the best of my abilities. I refused to settle for what has been the standard. When I don’t understand something, I ask questions or perform research so I have a full grasp of the matter. My confidence as a leader has been built by having a fundamental and deep understanding of my work and the impact it has around me. I believe every person can lead by example. This only requires a desire to do what is right and best for the team or project. Every person can be dedicated, hardworking and have a positive attitude.

What do you think your strengths are and how did you identify them?

I believe my strengths come from my passion to build teams. This has required me to be an active listener. People usually have a lot to say if someone just takes the time to listen. I make it a point to set time aside to hear concerns from members of my team and other community stakeholders. I also believe in effective conflict resolution. It doesn’t matter how well-oiled an operation may be, there will be conflicts. I work hard to resolve conflicts by finding a common ground and making sure all parties are heard.  

How have your setbacks and weaknesses made you stronger?

Every setback has been an opportunity for growth. Every weakness can be strengthened when given the appropriate attention and resources. I believe in constant self-reflection to assess how I affect those around me and the work I do for our community. When a setback occurs, I look for opportunities to learn from them and turn them into future successes.

In public government, you’re under a certain level of scrutiny. How do you build the tough skin to handle hard choices and respond to criticism?

Time is a wonderful teacher. As you are able to have different experiences in life, you find you are tempered in a way that gives a broader perspective. My career has certainly had its varying levels of scrutiny, but I have a strong foundation in my abilities and my passion to do what I believe is best for our community. I am a public servant, and I take this responsibility with deep respect, so my responses to criticism are limited in that I represent a community and believe the focus should be on the work we do for the people of Alachua.

How do you define what it means to be a fierce woman?

I believe the term, fierce, has a different meaning to everyone. I can describe myself as a strong person who is deeply committed to my community and doing what is right. I have seen progress for women in the workforce over the course of my career. I am a testament to that as I was the first female city manager of Alachua when I was appointed in 2009. I believe when young girls see strong role models succeed, it encourages and inspires them to achieve their dreams, without limits.