Joyce Wilson’s life has been in city management, and predominately in cities with large ethnic populations. During her fellowship, she focused on leadership along international boundaries. She is now applying what she learned, working as the city manager in El Paso, Texas, on the United States-Mexican border. ”I was actually introduced to El Paso during my Kellogg Fellowship,” she says. ”I find it a very vibrant, exciting, international community.”
Joyce’s passion is ”building great communities where people can have the best quality of life possible.” Her approach has been to ensure all citizens have equal access to their local government. She comments, ”It’s so important to listen and to communicate. People need to know you really care. They aren’t interested in how much you know, but how much you care.”
Joyce makes it her cause to look out for the underdog. As a single parent who raised her daughter on her own, Joyce empathizes with women who are single heads of household. ”I know the overall environment is not supportive of that population,” she says.
In her day-to-day professional life, Joyce helps the city’s mayor and council set policy decisions, and helps shape the decisions by providing forums and processes that bring people together to build consensus and own the outcome. Joyce is proud to note: ”In every community I’ve been part of, I’ve had a lasting impact that has long outlived my time there. I’ve helped contribute to and shape organizational transformations, community capacity-building, and strategic investments.”
Her greatest achievement, when pressed, was a neighborhood redevelopment project in Yuma, Arizona. She explains, ”Yuma’s Carver neighborhood was an area that the community leadership really targeted strategically, investing community development funds in its park, school, and public places. The city’s redevelopment efforts drew in further investments from the private and nonprofit sectors to really have an impact on the neighborhood. Now, it’s a vibrant place!” Remarks Joyce, ”The project was a very collaborative model that can be applied in other distressed neighborhoods.” She is replicating it now in El Paso.
Joyce Wilson was interviewed in July 2006.