SGF Member Spotlight: Kelly Wilson
Kelly is the CFO for the Town of Little Elm, Texas.
What Makes Your Area Unique?
Little Elm is the Town with a Lake Attitude! We are located along sixty-six miles of shoreline along Lake Lewisville in North Central Texas and have a "laid back" atmosphere. Despite being "little"— only twenty-two square miles — we have a lot going on with our recreation-based amenities, special events, and development, attracting visitors from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
We are consistently rated as one of the fastest-growing cities in North Texas by population growth percentage. As part of our fast and furious growth, our services have also grown to keep up with the demand for services, and we have to work a little harder to maintain the small-town charm that our residents and visitors know and love.
Another unique trait about Little Elm is that several portions of our city are divided from our main Town proper due to their position along highways or peninsulas. As a result, we have three different school districts providing education services to residents.
What are the challenges you think finance professionals will be facing in the near future or the distant future?
Like many municipalities, our town faced uncertainty and "what ifs" of COVID-19 over the last year and a half.
From a financial professional's point of view, the biggest concern we faced was fear over the economic impact of COVID. As a result, we put many projects on hold, so now we face situations about whether or not those projects will pick up and continue to completion. In addition, there was also concern over property values, sales tax, and worries about funding certain developments.
Another challenging area across all departments and organizations is building culture and fostering relationships while we worked from home and how that is becoming more of a preference.
As the department head, there were serious concerns over how COVID-19 impacted my staff and our department's ability to operate efficiently. We also had to work hard to communicate effectively while at home.
Unfortunately, these concerns were not mine alone; COVID-19 threw our entire organization into a tailspin, and we put the fun things we usually do on pause and focused on keeping things operating. Our department is a very close-knit one. Our entire organization is like a large, extended family, so the inability to see each other in person and collaborate is critical.
One particular impact of the pandemic was our ability to continue to drive our culture of Servant Leadership. Until March of 2020, we planned and positioned our organization to implement initiatives to help our culture develop, and everything went on hold for about a year.
Fortunately, as we are slowly coming out of the crisis and carefully moving back into our offices, we have been able to get back to doing those fun things, carry on with our cultural development, and drive forward.