Reaching your career goal in your mid-30s is pretty impressive. Bryan Heck, Wittenberg class of 2006, did just that when he became the City of Springfield’s new city manager earlier this year.
Heck, deputy city manager in Springfield since January 2015, was selected by the city commission after City Manager Jim Bodenmiller announced his retirement in August 2018. Heck, who graduated summa cum laude from Wittenberg with a degree in political science and a minor in management, was one of three internal and 18 external applicants for the job. A lifelong resident of Clark County, Heck graduated from Tecumseh High School in 2002. He earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Dayton in 2008.
“After my sophomore year at Wittenberg, I turned my career focus toward the city management profession,” said Heck, who has been married to wife, Bailey Gilbert Heck ’08, for 11 years. The two of them live in Springfield and have two children, Kamryn (8), and Colston (6).
“Wittenberg helped lay the groundwork not only through the ability to obtain knowledge and skills in the classroom, but also outside the classroom through internships and community service projects. The people that had the largest impact on me while at Wittenberg were Dr. Rob Baker, Dr. Staci Rhine, and Dr. Wendy Gradwohl.”
Heck started his career with the City as a graduate intern in 2006 while working toward his master’s degree. Upon completing his master’s, he was hired in the full-time position of the assistant to the city manager in 2008. He served as the planning and zoning administrator from 2011-2014 before being promoted to deputy city manager.
“I feel extremely blessed and fortunate that I have the opportunity to have a direct impact on a community that I have called home my entire life,” said Heck, who also lettered in football at Wittenberg his freshman year. “I describe the city manager position as the jack-of-all trades and the master of none. You have to educate yourself on every aspect of the organization in an effort to make the best decisions for the organization and the community. Springfield, as many urban centers do, has a lot of challenges that we must deal with head on. I am most looking forward to continuing to build community relationships and partnerships with community members and leaders of organizations that are working to make Springfield a better place to live, work, and play. We are on the cusp of turning the tide in our community, and we have to work together to continue the momentum that exists.”
The city manager position operates as the chief executive officer in the city, and there are 570 employees that Heck is responsible for within the organization. There are 11 departments that make up the organization, including police, fire, service, community development, engineering, finance, legal, etc.
“I was appointed by the city commission (five members) to run the day-to-day operations of the city,” he said. “It is my responsibility to provide the leadership, management, and coordination. Our office carries out the goals and objectives of the city commission with available resources, and also provides community liaison services, legislative support, economic development, project supervision, budget overview, policy development, and information about city services to the public and media.”
After just four months in office, Heck is excited to see ground broken on the downtown Townhome project and, of course, the building of Wittenberg’s new Health, Wellness, and Athletics complex, and its centerpiece, The Steemer, coming to life.
“I am extremely excited for the continued revitalization of our downtown, including the downtown Townhome project, as well as the parking garage,” he said. “New housing is something we desperately need in our community, and we have several projects either already started, or in the works that will help address that issue. Wittenberg’s new facility is an exciting project for our community, too. I look forward to working with Wittenberg on making that the premier sports facility for Division III athletics. The city will be paving Bill Edwards Drive in 2020 once all the construction is complete. Wittenberg and NTPRD (National Trails, Parks, and Recreation Department) continue to partner on different opportunities in the community, which is very exciting.”