Executive MPA alum takes his skills to Nebraska as a city manager

Liz Harper
May 8, 2018

Edwards, ChadGordon City Manager Chad Edwards has a passion for municipal government. He’s had the interest for a long time, but was able cultivate and develop his skills in public administration while he was in graduate school at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

Edwards earned his bachelor of arts in political science and government at Ohio University in 1995. After graduation, he worked a variety of jobs, including working at his family’s business. In 2007, Edwards began working for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. He enjoyed working for the state and realized that he wanted to take his work in the public sector one step further. His quickly developing interest in county and municipal politics helped him to decide it was time to pursue a master’s degree in public administration, which brought him back to Ohio University in 2013.

He continued to work while in graduate school, which he says was beneficial because it gave him a way to apply the things he was learning as he learned them. He sees the value of all he learned in the Executive MPA program because he started using his new skills right away--and still uses them today.

“The number one takeaway, the one thing that I learned that I can string all of my classes together right to my portfolio, was creative problem solving,” he said. “I know it sounds simple, but it is absolutely critical to [my current] position.”

Within a month of receiving his master’s degree, Edwards was offered a position as the city recorder of Sisterville. It wasn’t a city manager position, but Sisterville didn’t have a city manager, so Edwards ended up filling both roles. He attended conferences and trainings to help him fulfill his roles and continue to learn about what it meant to work in municipal government.

Running a city takes more than maintaining the parks and doing what Edwards calls “fun things.” City managers also deal with less obvious systems, including law enforcement, waste water and trash. Working in city management requires Edwards to deal with an ever-looming challenge: shrinking resources coupled with growing needs. Fortunately, he’s prepared.

“In municipal government we deal with things on behalf of the people so they don’t have to do it,” Edwards explained. “That’s why we do what we do, and we’re happy to do it. To protect the community, to make sure everything is processed, and they have clean drinking water, that waste water is properly disposed of, disposing of trash, etc. That’s why we do what we do.”

In February 2018, Edwards was named city manager of Gordon, Nebraska, after almost three years working in Sisterville. He knew the job would be a good fit.

“I have a real passion for municipal government, and it has grown,” Edwards said. “Coming out to Nebraska was the next step in the process.”

For the first few weeks of his new job, he observed how the city operated and noted what worked and what could be improved. Now he’s ready to use his position to help the town grow and thrive.

“Being in the Voinovich School taught me to attack those problems with confidence,” Edwards said. “It taught me to look at things from several different angles.”

Edwards said there is a lot that excites him about his new job--so much so that he can’t focus on one thing. A current project, however, is installing solar panels in the city.

“It’s exciting because it’s going to save money, it’s good for the environment, and it’s helping to move the town into the future,” Edwards said. “I think renewable energy is what we’re looking for. Having come from a coal state, it’s nice to see a small town being proactive with energy solutions.”