• December 19, 2014

Assistant director reunites with mentor

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Posted: Monday, March 26, 2007 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:54 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

Teamwork plus frienship, multiplied by loyalty, equals Barbara Gonzales.

Killeen City Manager Connie Green recently named Gonzales to the finance director's position. Gonzales had been serving as general services director for the city of Killeen since November 2003.

But joining the city staff four years ago was not the first time she worked for Green.

Gonzales worked with Green as assistant director of finance for Killeen when he was finance director. She worked for Green in the finance department from 1990 to 1995 before going to work for the city of Copperas Cove as finance director.

While at Copperas Cove she was appointed as acting city manager. After two years at Copperas Cove, Gonzales left to serve as comptroller and interim business manager for the

Belton Independent School District.

Gonzales left the work force for about a year and considered teaching.

"After I substituted kindergartners, I said, This is not for me. I need an office where I can shut my door,'" Gonzales said.

After her hiatus from finance and management, Green offered Gonzales the general services director job for the city of Killeen, and Gonzales jumped at the chance.

"Mr. Green has been my mentor pretty much since I came out of college," Gonzales said.

Her first job out of college was working under Green for the city of Belton, and she went with him to work for the city of Killeen in 1990.

It wasn't long, however, before Gonzales' role reversed from acolyte to mentor.

When she went to work for the city of Copperas Cove, Gonzales became a mentor herself.

"She's a wonderful human being and a wonderful leader," said Brenda Essenburg, acting general services director for the City of Killeen.

Essenburg first worked with Gonzales in Copperas Cove then went with her to the Belton ISD. Essenburg also worked with Gonzales in the general services department in Killeen.

"I just keep following her everywhere," Essenburg said.

Essenburg described Gonzales as professional, knowledgeable and a good leader.

"I supervise and manage by working as a team," Gonzales said about her leadership style. "We have a great team here."

Essenburg said that when Gonzales was general services director, she would have a meeting to include all five divisions of general services: the purchasing, fleet services, facility maintenance, custodial services and printing services divisions, so everyone knew what everyone else was doing. Essenburg said that was often a good way for each division to find ways to help another.

She also said Gonzales always makes sure people on her staff are cross-trained so there is always a backup and everyone understands other jobs.

"Communication is probably the best thing," Essenburg said about Gonzales.

It's communication and teamwork that prompted Green to keep Gonzales on his staff whenever he could.

"I could not be more confident in making a recommendation to the City Council than Barbara Gonzales," Green told the Killeen City Council at its March 13 meeting, when it approved Gonzales' appointment to the finance director position.

Green said he recognized her potential from the start, adding that they have been friends for years.

"I just look forward to taking on this new endeavor," Gonzales said.

While finance director does not sound like the most appealing job to some, Gonzales said she loves it.

"There's a lot more to governmental accounting, not just the number crunching, but in these type of positions, it's the citizens' and taxpayers' money that we have a vested interest in," Gonzales said. "I thought that it was very interesting and very important to me that we maximize and handle citizens' funds properly. These funds are not my funds, but I treat them as such."

Contact Kevin M. Smith at ksmith@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7550.

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