2023 Davenport Institute's City Manager in Residence with Drew Powers
This February, the Davenport Institute hosted its annual City Manager in Residence Program with Drew Powers, the City Manager of Thousand Oaks, California. Students had the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with Powers and attend a special lunchtime Davenport Discussion.
During his talk, Powers began by reflecting on his twenty-six years in local government and the path that led him there. Powers studied parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University and began his communications and marketing affairs career in North Carolina. After some time, he made his way to California to pursue a career for the City of Ventura. In Ventura, he learned more about everything the local government provided and developed the skills to climb the leadership ladder to become a city manager.
Powers highlighted the importance of storytelling in the professional world, emphasizing that students must communicate a personal brand to employers when interviewed. Building this story, Powers says, comes from connecting one's passion and mission to their professional goals, maintaining a growth mindset, and engaging the community where you're serving. Seeking to calm the nerves of soon-to-be graduates, Powers said that while the current job market is competitive, it is also one of history's most dynamic job markets. It is a great time to explore a career in local government where you can grow your professional skills while applying learnings from the Masters in Public Policy.
As the talk drew to a close, Powers discussed the different shapes local government structures can take and the particular character and challenges of the City of Thousand Oaks. Powers explained that his city is fiscally strong, which allows it to be a place for development and growth. Zooming out, Powers shared that many issues are impacting not only Thousand Oaks but also cities across the state and country. These issues include but are not limited to housing, homelessness, economic development, and investment in infrastructure. He stressed that these issues are challenging because they are not only municipal problems but also humanitarian issues. The talk ended with a lively discussion Q&A, where SPP students asked Powers about the differences in his experience working within California and North Carolina and how the City of Thousand Oaks is handling the California HOME Act. We are grateful for Drew Powers' willingness to impart his wisdom to the SPP community, and we hope his lessons will guide SPP students for years to come.