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Fairfax, Virginia

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City Manager – Fairfax, Virginia


The Position

Fairfax’s next City Manager will lead a workforce of talented professionals, work with elected officials who are committed to council-manager government and civility and love their community, and citizens who are smart, engaged, and provide great volunteerism. In addition to a historic downtown center, Fairfax offers the best things of a small town where people help their neighbors, exceptional events bring residents together, and a variety of small businesses provide part of the City’s unique character.

The City Manager oversees the workforce of 400 FTEs, develops and administers the budget, and carries out the City’s law and policies enacted by the Mayor and Council. The City’s FY 2019 budget is $171M in all funds, $142M of which is the General Fund. The City provides $56M for public education funding for grades K-12. The City provides comprehensive services that include Police, Fire and Rescue, Public Works, Human Services, Parks and Recreation, Planning and Development, Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Cultural Arts. Human services and education are primarily provided via contracts with Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public Schools, respectively. The City operates its own wastewater collection system and contracts with Fairfax County for wastewater treatment. The City obtains its water from Fairfax Water, a regional water utility authority, which operates the system. The City Manager currently has 12 direct reports, who include all department directors plus personnel, economic development, communications, and historic resources. In addition to the City’s paid fire and rescue employees, the City jointly provides fire and rescue services with the Fairfax Volunteer Fire Department (FVFD). This arrangement is governed by an MOU between the City and the FVFD.

The Organization

The City operates under the Council-Manager form of government. The City Manager, the City Clerk, and the City Attorney are appointed by the City Council. The Mayor and six council members are elected to serve two-year terms on an at-large, non-partisan basis. There are two elected state constitutional officers, Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer, who work closely with the City Manager.

Experience & Education

Requirements for this position are a bachelor’s degree and at least ten (10) years of progressively responsible experience in a local government, including supervision and executive level management (manager/administrator, assistant manager/administrator, or department director).

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree in public administration or a related field and experience in budget development and financial management, strategic planning and implementation, economic development and redevelopment, intergovernmental relations, business and community engagement, and providing exceptional customer service. An ICMA-CM is preferred but not required.


Residency within the city limits within a reasonable time after appointment is required by the City Charter.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for Fairfax’s next City Manager will be an honest, forthright, and effective leader who brings fresh ideas and a sense of humor, and is personally invested in the community. He or she will be a skilled communicator, engaging with a variety of audiences and listening to residents, business owners, community groups, and City staff. The candidate will be approachable and have a visible presence in the community and in the organization. The next City Manager will be adept at balancing needs to ensure a high level of services are delivered effectively, key capital projects and infrastructure needs are addressed, and that the City will be able to retain its strong fiscal position. He or she will be committed to providing exceptional city services, ensuring the highest level of customer responsiveness, and will create and sustain a service excellence ethic among City employees who are deeply committed to serving the community. The City Manager will be positive and focused on solving problems creatively to get to “yes” but will be strong enough to say no when needed and wise enough to know how to navigate the most prudent course for the City. He or she will be able to balance constituent and day-to-day service needs and also keep the staff and Mayor and Council focused on achieving long-term strategic and redevelopment goals.

He or she will engender trust, lead by example, hold staff accountable, and work alongside staff to accomplish goals. The ideal candidate will be politically astute, skilled in developing teams and partnerships, and have a collaborative approach to identifying innovative solutions. The candidate will have a proven ability to help the governing body come to consensus on both long-term and short-term priorities and will work with the staff and partners to implement strategic initiatives. The ideal City Manager will have proven success in building relationships and collaborating with government, private, nonprofit, and educational partners to achieve community goals.

The ideal candidate will have expertise in economic development/redevelopment, be able to mentor and encourage creativity and professionalism among City employees, and will possess strong skills in deploying creative and innovative funding tools and incentives to stimulate economic development. He or she will be trustworthy and caring and will consider current and future City residents in decision-making. The ideal candidate will be excited about Fairfax’s future, appreciate its history and small-town values, and be able to lead the organization and advise the Council on how to balance its identity and future growth. The ideal candidate will be an enthusiastic supporter of the City, personally invested in promoting Fairfax and shaping its future by creating jobs, building strong businesses, and through community-focused development.

The Community

Fairfax is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, located 16 miles west of Washington, D.C., and is an oasis with a distinct identity in the metro area. Its historic downtown, tree-filled neighborhoods, and small-town feel are treasured by residents. The City was initially incorporated as a town in 1874, having been settled several years earlier by farmers from southeastern Virginia. In 1961, less than one hundred years later, it was incorporated as an independent city.

The City of Fairfax Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, with the most notable landmarks located in the downtown area. Dating back as far as 1799, the twenty-eight buildings within the Historic District include Old Town Hall (1900), Ratcliffe-Allison-Pozer House (1811), and Historic Fairfax County Courthouse (1800). The City owns and operates two other historic districts, including the Fairfax City Cemetery and the 12-acre Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim.

As a part of the Metropolitan D. C. area, many Fairfax residents travel by mass transit and other forms of public transportation. The Orange Line of Metro has a stop one mile northeast of city limits and Virginia Railway Express’ Burke Centre station is only three miles southeast of the City. The city-operated CUE Bus, a partnership between the City and George Mason University, and WMATA’s Metrobus serve the City.

Every year, a bevy of exciting events occur within city limits. During the first full weekend of every February, chocolate vendors and enthusiasts gather in Old Town Fairfax for two days of fun-filled festivities. The annual Chocolate Lovers Festival began in 1993 and continues to attract chocolate connoisseurs from around the country. Other annual community events include the Independence Day Celebration, Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts, Rock the Block, Fairfax History Day, Fido Fest, Labor Day Car Show, Fall Festival, and the Festival of Lights and Carols.

The City of Fairfax provides educational programs and services for K-12 for the approximately 3,500 students from the City of Fairfax through a contractual agreement with the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). This agreement is managed by the City of Fairfax School Board and its City school superintendent. While the City of Fairfax School Board owns the land and school facilities, the instructional program and all faculty and staff at the City’s schools are FCPS employees. In 2015, Fairfax High School was named the tenth-best public high school in the Commonwealth of Virginia by U.S. News and World Report. Located on the southern city limit is the main campus of the prestigious George Mason University, a public institution of higher learning that enrolls 36,000 students. With three campuses in Northern Virginia, George Mason is a “tier-one” research institution of national stature and global impact. Northern Virginia Community College, the largest educational institution in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has its main campus three miles east of the City. It enrolls 75,000 students at several campuses in the Northern Virginia region.

Quick Facts

  • Population: 24,097
  • Median Household Income: $104,065
  • Median Age: 40
  • Total Area: 6.3 square miles

Racial/Ethnic Demographics

  • White: 57.2%
  • Asian: 17.3%
  • Hispanic: 17.1%
  • Black: 5.3%
  • Two or More Races or Other: 3.1%


The expected hiring range is $210,000 to $250,000, depending upon qualifications and experience with a generous benefits package.

How to Apply

Apply Online

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group at and will be kept confidential. Applicants first complete a brief online form and then are prompted to provide one document (Word or PDF) that includes a cover letter and resume with salary history. Open until filled with first review of applications September 7, 2018.


Please direct questions to Catherine Tuck Parrish at 513-221-0500 or

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