In Service of City

As the new Corpus Christi city manager, Margie Rose goes back to basics in order to make lives better across the Coastal Bend.

By: Jessica Dusek
Photos courtesy of City of Corpus Christi

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Corpus Christi’s new city manager, Margie Rose, is guiding the city of Corpus Christi to new goals. Rose accepted her new role in July of this year. Her leadership in city management is supported by her 29 years in public management, including city and county governments. For the last 14 years, Rose has served in Corpus Christi as assistant manager and city deputy city manager. In her new role this year, she prepares for the upcoming 2017 agenda.

“There are a lot of different things we will be dealing with,” Rose explains. “Once we start dealing with these issues, there are a lot of positive things.” Her dedication and commitment shine through her voice, as her role will be key in seeing these processes to completion. “I will be able to help the process in where we want to be,” she explains.

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With her years of expertise, she brings with her a sincere joy for service. “Working to make our lives much better – that is what brought me into the profession, and what keeps me where I am,” Rose says, passionately. Yet, interestingly enough, her path wasn’t always crystal-clear.

“When you are 17, it’s difficult to know what you want and why,” explains Rose, taking us back to her early career days. “I was supposed to go on the journey of becoming an engineer. I graduated early from high school.” She describes a pivotal time period, a sort of catalyst that introduced her to public work. “I was basically waiting to graduate, and one of my counselors indicated that there was an opening (in city government).” With six months left, she joined the accounts payable department in a temporary position in Inkster, Mich.

During her time working for the city, she found she had a sincere passion working directly with the community. “I really enjoyed working with the citizens.” Allowing her to understand the perspective from a taxpayer’s point of view, she found she could direct citizens to certain needs, in terms of support, programs and available solutions. “As a result, I really enjoyed interacting with the senior citizens. I really felt good about it,” she recalls of her first job. “It really kind of changed my direction just being in that environment.”

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Receiving mentorship and exposure to influencers early on, she met the city manager and asked him about what he did and why – a conversation that sparked a personal interest for Rose. “He really got me engaged to the point where I spent time at the library, which was next-door to where I was working.”

As her family expected her to take the calculated path of an engineer, she couldn’t help but feel the tug back toward city government. “It was a profound change that my family didn’t particularly like,” she explains. Knowing she could make a difference – knowing that she was helping others had more substance.

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“It was a real decision to make,” she describes of her choice. With withdrawn support of her family, “I had to deal with a lot of challenges.” Figuring out the financial support to fuel her career change, she supported herself entirely though college. “All I knew is that I had a passion for that work,” she says. “As a result, I decided to put myself through school.”

Attending Eastern Michigan University, Rose received her undergraduate degree and continued on to earn her graduate degree in public administration, graduating in 1991. Working in assistant purchasing, she moved to a director position. “It really allowed me to serve the different departments,” she describes. In that capacity, she served as director of public works, offering an opportunity to learn about the whole public works. “I never regretted having made that decision,” she says. “I found that I am very much an individual that likes to be engaged with people. I need to be out and engaged with individuals I’m going to be dealing with.”

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Rose’s background in public service includes work on the county level. While working for Wayne County, she managed the park system. Serving as deputy director, she served on the county level within a community of nearly 2.5 million. She was exposed to new issues within the recreational context that would broaden her perspective working in local governments.

Serving with the county for three-and-a-half years, her true passion called her to return to city government – where she could really make an impact. “What was very interesting for me – I wasn’t as engaged with citizens,” she explains of her insight working on the county level. “Citizens usually go to their city government. There weren’t a lot of citizens at the meetings. And that was my foundation.”

In hindsight, her family later expressed that her decision to go into public service was the right choice. Yet, if Rose could lend some wisdom to other young 17-year-old women facing similar difficulties, she would advocate the following:

Have clarity.
“I truly believe that you need to be very clear in what you want because that decision is a critical decision,” she says. “Whatever profession you are interested in, the clearer you are on what you want, the stronger you will be.”

Avoid distractions.
“Don’t let others deter you from what you want to pursue,” she says.

Listen to yourself.
“Make sure you understand what you want and follow it,” she says. “My getting up and going to work is what it’s about. You’ve got to have a passion and desire to do that job.”

Know what you want – and once you are clear, move forward, boldly.
“It’s helpful to have support of your family, even if they disagree. And if you receive no support, listen to that passion!” she says. “My mother later stated that I did make the right decision. I believe that because my mother was very clear about what you want – all of that training played a big role.”
Using this approach herself, Rose moved forward with the odds against her. “I didn’t think it would play a role. But it did,” she explains. It played a role ultimately in her favor and the work she chose.

With large shoes to fill in a vibrant city, Rose is confident and excited for the upcoming changes. The success comes with her expansive perspective in government and ability to connect with others to get things done to better the city.

“It really takes me all the way back to the basics,” she explains. “In Corpus Christi, the issues are much greater. Working with the community and the elected officials – working on the dynamics that goes with it … The needs are still there. As long as we exist, there will always be issues that need to be resolved. It’s all about helping people.”

For more information, contact City Manager Margie Rose at 361-813-8599 or margier@cctexas.com.

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