Florence “Flo” Ford has managed cities and boroughs for 30 years. After serving as Interim Borough Manager for three months, Ford officially took the helm for Hanover in January.
She holds an undergraduate degree from Wichita State University (history and political science major) and a graduate degree in public administration. An appointed position, the Borough Manager’s responsibility is to supervise Hanover’s day-to-day operations and implement Hanover Borough Council policies.
What thrills you the most about small town life? I love small town life. I have never been enthralled by big cities. Even when I travel, I like the country and small town atmosphere.
What do you love about borough management? I love helping people.
What do you think are the top two myths about borough management? That it is easy and that there is not enough to do.
List three adjectives that you hope colleagues would use describe your leadership style? Engaged, enthusiastic, and proactive.
Top three challenges (today) linked to your job? Shrinking revenues and rising expenditures; unfunded mandates, aging infrastructure
Offer an elevator shout out about Hanover – from the first floor to the second, what would you tell someone about the borough that sets it apart from all others. The Borough’s employees. All the departments work together to make Hanover a great place to live and work. They truly care about delivering a high level service to the residents and business owners.
Borough manager, mayor, and the council – how do you explain the different roles? Pennsylvania is so unique; it is so hard to understand the governance structure. I’m appointed and not elected. I’m like the CEO of a company. I oversee public works, fire, water, sewer, administration and finance and I report back to the council. The council sets the policies; I administrate them. The mayor is in charge of the police department. I wrote a chapter for an interactive e-book. Check it out and feel free to share the link. [www.civicsandyoupa.com]
What would you tell someone who thinks Borough management might be for them? If you want to have a career that is diverse and can’t set priorities because things change hourly, this is the job for you. You have the right personality and be able to go with things. It’s a great job. You have to like people. If you don’t like people, you don’t want this job. You have to tolerate a lot of guff; you’ll be blamed for everything. But think about this – luckily, out of 17,000 people, I get three to five [guff calls]. Something must be right.
Funniest memory linked to your life as a borough manager? While working in Wyoming, the town had a golf course. Every morning for about 12 weeks the same bull moose attacked the fifth tee. He would tear up the turf, toss the flags and create an absolute mess. He finally stopped after he met a very pretty female and they had a calf. That settled him right down.
Your most rewarding moment linked borough management? The revitalization of the downtown in Cheney, Kansas.
Most heart-wrenching moment(s) of your career? Working on assisting the town cleanup of Hoisington, KS after a devastating tornado that destroyed over half of the town.
What were some of the benefits of being in the interim position? A major benefit of being an interim manager is it gives you the time to assess whether or not the fit is right. By fit, I mean each town has a set of challenges or skill set it needs in a manager. The interim position allows both the manager and the council to see if they are on the same page and whether the particular skill set a manager has is one that benefits the needs of the town.
Some of the challenges? I really don’t see the interim position as one fraught with challenges. The difficulty can be forming relationships with residents or employees that may only be temporary. That can be tough.
The 30 inches of snow this winter, what did they do to your world? Oh. OH. Well, thank goodness they are rare. You can plan for them, but you never have enough men or equipment. The snow was a huge strain on the guys. I had 38 out on the streets 24/7. Water and sewer guys and the fire department joined and everyone stepped up to the plate. We had to prepare fields, 18 acres, in order to have a place to take the snow. It would have been a true nightmare if there were power outages.
Where and when are you happiest? Fly fishing in the mountains with my husband.
Who are your heroes in real life? My sister, Joyce. We were always close and she talked me into going back to college when I was in my 30’s. She gave me a place to live and a job until I got back on my feet. To me – she is everything.
What is your most treasured possession? That’s a tough one. I have to say my horse, Ming.
Favorite way to relax? Riding my horse or playing my banjo.
Favorite movie – or book – (right now)? Into Thin Air
In 10 years, what do you hope will be your greatest achievement as Hanover’s borough manager? Revitalization of the downtown core and hopefully improving the quality of life in Hanover Borough.