Doug Walker, Assistant Executive for Community Services, Albemarle County
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born and raised in Henrico County.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I accepted a job offer from Albemarle County in February, 2013 and started work on April 1st. Having spent over twenty years in local government management in Virginia, I thought the time was right to move to a large, diverse and vibrant County which has high quality of life for me personally and would provide a rewarding and challenging experience for me professionally.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I still reside in my house in Waynesboro and hope to make the move “over the mountain” this Spring/Summer if the housing market is kind.
Family (spouse, kids, etc,)?
My daughter is a senior at Kenyon College. I’m pretty sure she expects to graduate in May. I am also owned by a rescued greyhound who keeps me in good health with lots of walking.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science from Appalachian State University, graduating in 1984. I received a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988.
What were you doing before you came to work for the county?
At the time of my hire and was serving as the County Administrator for Shenandoah County, Virginia. Previously, I have served as City Manager in Waynesboro, Deputy County Administrator in Spotsylvania County, Assistant to the County Administrator in Southampton County. I also have experience in the private sector.
Your job title is Assistant County Executive for Community Services – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
Every day is different but the essential role is to provide connectivity, coordination, integration and leadership for the many “outward facing” functional departments of County government including Police, Fire/Rescue, Social Services, Housing, Community Development and Parks and Recreation. Part of that work is to assume responsibility for the performance of the departments in their work to provide high quality, effective and efficient services and to be accountable for results. Part of the work is to support departments and employees in sustaining a work environment that is conducive to high performance. And another part of that work is to provide the best possible information to the County Executive and the Board of Supervisors to assist them in decision-making. I also represent the County on several boards and commissions including the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Commission and the Albemarle County Community Policy and Management Team. In addition, I serve the County as a liaison with many public service partners and regional agencies including the Jefferson Madison Regional Library, Health Department, SPCA, and JABA.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
Without a doubt the best part of the job is the people. From my still limited experience, it is apparent that Albemarle County is loaded with well-informed, active and engaged citizens who care genuinely about the quality of this community. I see County staff feeding off that energy and it shows in how hard they work every day to provide the best service in the best way possible. “ONE Organization Committed to Excellence” is not just a slogan for these gals and guys – it’s a culture and a very productive one.
The most difficult part for me right now clearly is the learning curve. I’ve worked in local government management for over twenty years now so I know the business, but I don’t know Albemarle County well enough yet and it is taking awhile to get up to speed with all that is going on in this very dynamic community.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
That’s a tough question. Most of my day-to-day interaction is with employees and representatives from outside agencies and organizations. Plus, I think it’s really hard to define an average person in the context of the work of serving citizens. Frankly, the broad array of public services provided in Albemarle County and unique characteristics that make up each and every citizen and their relationship with County government defies “average”. Nevertheless, I believe that every interaction I have with any county stakeholder, citizen or otherwise, should re-enforce the County’s commitment to high quality public service. That interest in citizen satisfaction often means different things to different people and doesn’t generally translate into everyone always being happy. I do believe, however, that as a leader in this organization, my public service mindset fits well in the prevailing work culture of Albemarle County generally and that I can use my strength in that area to sustain and improve the overall positive experience for the “average citizen” in their dealings with County government.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the county?
There are many to choose from and it hasn’t been very long since my arrival but I think that the most interesting project in terms of timing was coming into the County in the middle of the public discussion about the location of the Police Firing Range. There is still much more work to do but it seems to be in a good place, euphemistically, with the regional public safety partners and with the community at large.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I am working in the same building where my father graduated from high school (Lane High School). I’m very proud of that fact.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I really enjoy working in my yard/garden and also spend a good deal of time walking (with my dog) and reading. I love playing tennis and golf when I can, although I’m not very good at either. I also sing in a community choir and have been active in community theater for many years. I am an avid UVA sports fan and freely admit to being eternally optimistic about the teams, including the football team right now which is much better than its record would indicate and needs/deserves some love.