Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly takes a shot at the city’s disc golf course. She was recently named Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Director after taking over for Lynn Rives in March 2017.
Former Clearwater parks department manager Felicia Donnelly began working for the City of Oldsmar in March 2017 following the retirement of longtime leisure services director Lynn Rives.
In the ensuing 10 months, Donnelly’s enthusiasm, experience and flawless handling of the transition helped make her a favorite with her bosses and coworkers at City Hall.
That hard work and dedication to her job led to Donnelly being named Oldsmar’s assistant city manager/economic development director, effective Feb. 1, a move announced by City Manager Al Braithwaite during the Jan. 16 City Council meeting.
Al Braithwaite was sworn in as Oldsmar City Manager on Oct. 3, 2017.
“As council is aware, there is a new position in the budget, effective February first, to coincide with Bruce’s actual retirement date,” Brathwaite said of his predecessor, Bruce Haddock, who retired on Oct. 1 after 30 years but remained on staff as a consultant until Jan. 31.
“The position is called Assistant City Manager-slash-Economic Development Director, and I wanted to announce to the public…that I have selected a very talented individual within our ranks—Felicia Donnelly.”
After the announcement, which was met with a round of applause, Braithwaite elaborated on the reason for selecting Felicia for the position.
“When I was contemplating how I was going to fill this new position, I thought it would be very difficult to find someone with both the Management AND Economic Development experience at the same time,” he said via email, adding “the creation of the Economic Development Director portion of the position was another Council priority.”
“The more I thought about it, and observed all that she has accomplished in the short time she has been here, the decision became obvious. I already had the best candidate working for us!”
Felicia Donnelly (second left) poses with several Oldsmar officials, including Mayor Doug Bevis to her left and City Manager Al Braithwaite (third from left) at the SSA Florida BMX Cup on Friday, Jan. 12, 2017.
Brathwaite detailed a list of Donnelly’s accomplishments, including “saving the City thousands of dollars by asking to perform a Leisure Services Organizational Analysis herself, as opposed to paying an outside consultant, which was planned.”
She also handled negotiations with several BMX organizations, helped with the pursuit of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, balanced the interests of the Youth Sports organizations and planned all of the city’s special events, according to Braithwaite.
“She handled it all like a pro, and she continues to excel at getting things done,” he said.
“I expect great things from her and I am very lucky to have someone with her skills on my team.”
Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly (left) poses with Top of the Bay Garden Club members during their annual Arbor Day tree planting on April 28, 2017.
For her part Donnelly, who does not seek the spotlight, said she was flattered to be considered for the new position and by the accolades, and she stressed how happy she is to be able to work with such a great group in Oldsmar.
“This new position gives me the opportunity to continue to add value to the community and the citizens of Oldsmar and the opportunity to work with a great group,” Donnelly told Oldsmar Connect by phone last week.
“We have a team that is unmatched in skill level and professionalism with a passion for moving things forward and the ability to create a great communication and marketing pieces, furthering the council’s vision for a connected city. I am delighted to work with them.”
Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly.
Donnelly, who holds a master’s degree in urban planning and is the president-elect of the Florida Recreation and Parks Association, said she fell in love with Oldsmar partly because of the value placed on open space and parkland in the community.
“Oldsmar has a sense of community other places dream of,” she said. “It’s rich with a cultural and historical identity that’s really unique in the state of Florida. The value of open space in a state with a very high level of population and immigration from other states, it’s rare to find.”
“Oldsmar is a unique city and I’m really happy to be part of it. I absolutely love it.”
Braithwaite said he and Donnelly will spend the next several months refining roles, but he noted she would take over the communications and marketing department effective Feb. 1.
As for finding a replacement to head the city’s leisure services department, he said conducting searches to replace exemplary employees are becoming par for the course in Oldsmar.
“Obviously, our first focus will be to hire another Leisure Services Director,” he wrote.
“We said this when we hired her….there will be big shoes to fill (figuratively, of course). Here we go again…”