The city manager of Gainesville, Georgia, oversees 10 departments with more than 650 employees. He’s responsible for carrying out policies and services adopted by the city council. It’s a position that Bryan Lackey (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’95) embraces despite the workload.
“Working in government is more than pushing paperwork and having regulatory things done,” he said. “You really strive for those tangible things on the ground that make a community better.”
Gainesville is a full-service city — it funds public services, such as police, fire and public transit. Lackey’s day is usually filled with meetings across departments that cover everything from improving transportation to building more green space. His team also has to address community problems called in by residents.
“I can’t always dive into things the way I want, so I have to trust my staff and give them direction to get things done,” he said.
Before moving to Gainesville in 2015, Lackey held multiple positions in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He started as a water resources engineer in 1996 and worked his way up to become the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development.
Lackey was no stranger to Gainesville. His parents grew up in the town and he spent a lot of time there while visiting his grandparents. However, he had to learn the community in a different way when he became city manager.
A master plan of downtown Gainesville, with a list of potential projects, sits on Lackey’s desk at all times. He said it allows him to relish what’s been accomplished while also dreaming of what’s ahead.
“In 10 or 15 years when someone asks about a certain project, I’ll get to proudly say I had a small part in getting that done,” Lackey said.
Lackey said his time at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and being involved in the college’s Engineering Club was pivotal for him. He explained that the technical components of his degree, coupled with the interpersonal skills he gained, allowed him to grow as an engineer and as a leader.
“Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, work your way up and continue to learn from all of your experiences,” he said.
By April Bailey