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Harrisonburg, Virginia

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City Manager – Harrisonburg, Virginia


The Position

Harrisonburg’s next City Manager will have the opportunity to not only serve a vibrant and diverse community, but also manage the day to day operations of a high performing organization. Harrisonburg, or “The Friendly City,” enjoys the presence of two universities, lively neighborhoods, a vibrant arts and cultural district, and spectacular nearby outdoor recreation spots. The City has a history of an effective government that is fiscally sound and has stability in leadership, engaged citizenry, and exceptional services.

The City Council appoints the City Manager to serve as the chief executive officer of the City. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council and is responsible for implementing the policies of the City Council, directing business and administrative procedures, and appointing all department heads except the City Attorney and City Clerk who are appointed directly by Council.

The City Manager oversees 13 direct staff including the Deputy City Manager, Deputy City Clerk, Public Information Officer and Department Directors. The City Manager also sits on the following boards:

  • Middle River Regional Jail Board of Directors
  • Harrisonburg/Rockingham Regional Sewer Authority
  • City/County Liaison Committee
  • Community Criminal Justice Board
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • Finance Committee
  • Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Home Board of Directors
  • Administrative Board, Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center
  • Administrative Board, Harrisonburg-Rockingham Social Services District
  • City/School Board Liaison Committee
  • City/James Madison University Liaison Committee

The position will be open when the City Manager retires in October after serving 10 years as City Manager and a total of 16 years with the City.

The Organization

The City of Harrisonburg operates under the council-manager form of government. Residents of Harrisonburg elect a five-member council to direct the goals and policies of the City. The five-member Council has four-year, staggered terms. The Mayor and Vice Mayor are selected from the Council and serve in their roles for two years.

The City Manager oversees the delivery of public services through the city departments. There are 12 departments within the City including Planning and Community Development, Economic Development, Finance, Fire, Emergency Communications Center, Human Resources, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation, Police, Public Transportation, Public Utilities, and Public Works.

The City of Harrisonburg manages a workforce of approximately 600 full-time and 200 part-time employees and an adopted FY2018 general fund budget of $111,679,799.


Minimum requirements for this position include a master’s degree and ten years of government experience with at least three years of management/supervision experience. Preferred qualifications include: ICMA-Credentialed Manager, strong financial management skills, and experience in economic development and redevelopment. Candidates with experience working in Virginia and/or with college towns are also desired.

Residency within the City limits is required by charter after appointment.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will be a seasoned yet progressive local government professional who is passionate about serving a diverse community and leading a high performing organization. He or she will be an effective listener and communicator, at ease speaking with varied audiences. The next City Manager will be approachable and effective in community engagement, skilled at bridging gaps between diverse resident groups. He or she will be technologically savvy and able to bring new solutions into the organization to increase efficiency. The ideal candidate will be a strong leader who can balance conflicting interests and priorities, yet also be decisive and provide clear recommendations. He or she will be a strategic thinker and visionary, helping council prioritize goals while managing day to day operations to ensure the future success of the community. Harrisonburg’s next City Manager will be a collaborative and flexible team leader, providing leadership and empowering high performing and competent staff. He or she 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 a keen sense of economic development/redevelopment and will possess strong skills in deploying creative and innovative funding tools and incentives to stimulate economic development. He or she will have a sense of humor, be trustworthy, caring, and personally invested in the community.

The Community

The City of Harrisonburg is an independent city located in the central Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. It is the City seat of Rockingham City and encompasses 17.3 square miles, serving a population of approximately 54,000. Harrisonburg is located right along Interstate 81 and is only two hours away from both Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Once an agricultural hub, Harrisonburg has now evolved into a lively and distinct destination with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, a plethora of parks and trails, and community events throughout the year.

Downtown Harrisonburg was designated as Virginia’s first recognized Arts and Cultural district in 2001 and the first recognized Culinary District in 2014. Downtown boasts a variety of locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and boutiques. The area is also home to an expansive network of galleries, music venues, theaters, and museums making it an exciting place for anyone to enjoy.

The City also owns the Heritage Oaks Golf Course, voted Best of the Valley 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015. Designed by William Love, Heritage Oaks is a challenging, scenic, par 70 course that offers a wide variety of holes for golfers of all abilities.

Harrisonburg is a melting pot of ethnic diversity. In recent years, over 1,900 refugees have been settled into the City. Harrisonburg City Public Schools students speak 55 different languages with English, Spanish, Arabic, and Kurdish being the most common.

Within the Harrisonburg City Public School system, there are five elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school. Harrisonburg is also home to two university campuses – James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. James Madison is a public research university with an enrollment of over 21,000 students and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is a private, Mennonite-affiliated liberal arts university with an enrollment of 1,880 students.

Harrisonburg has been a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community since 2011 and is dedicated to adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout the community, making it attractive to walkers, runners, and cyclists alike. Miles of trails and sidewalks make it a walkable and bike-friendly community.


The expected hiring range is $165,000 – $195,000 depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefit 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 has a cover letter, resume with salary history, and a list of 3-5 professional references. Open until filled with first review of applications September 15, 2017.


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

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