From his first day in UNT's Master of Public Administration program, T.C. Broadnax ('93 M.P.A.) knew that he wanted to work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. When his first job after graduation turned out to be in Florida instead, he set some clear goals: Return to Texas and eventually become city manager of Dallas — the third largest city in the U.S. with a city manager/council system.
That goal came true in December, when Broadnax was selected from five finalists for the Dallas city manager position — a job he began in February.
He was honored in January at a reception at the UNT System in Dallas. The event was hosted by UNT System, UNT, the Department of Public Administration, the M.P.A. Alumni Advisory Board and Center for Public Management.
"Running a city and working for elected officials is a great experience," says Broadnax, who previously served as city manager of Tacoma, Washington. He added that reporting to Dallas' 14 city council members, plus the mayor, "keeps me centered" in striving to serve residents of each council member's district.
"My work starts with understanding the needs of the people that live in each district. I like to see myself as community-oriented and considering the residents first," Broadnax says. "If something is being recommended for the budget for a specific neighborhood, I want to leave the office, go to the neighborhood and talk to those living there, to find out their concerns."
He says his desire to have an impact on a community came at a young age. He remembers walking in neglected neighborhoods in his native Topeka, Kansas, as a child, and wondering about the abandoned homes and lots. While attending Washburn University in Topeka, where he earned bachelor's degrees in both political science and organizational communication, Broadnax learned about the role of city managers in the revitalization of cities.
"I always planned to get a master's degree just after graduation," he says. "One of my professors at Washburn encouraged me to look into UNT, which has a great reputation for producing city managers in its Master of Public Administration program."
He praises Robert Bland, now the Endowed Professor in Local Government in UNT's Department of Public Administration, and the late Charldean Newell for their commitment to helping him launch his career.
"They spent time with me beyond the classroom, and Dr. Bland has been a supporter of me throughout my entire career," Broadnax says. "He stays connected to students after they graduate, and I use what I learned in his local government and government finance class almost every day."
He says Bland also encouraged him to apply for an internship in Florida with the city of Broward County Office of Management and Budget in Fort Lauderdale, which led to a full-time job as a budget analyst after graduation. Broadnax left Broward County in 1996 to work for the City of Pompano Beach, Florida where he held several positions with the city, including deputy city manager, before moving to San Antonio in 2006 to become assistant city manager. He left for Tacoma in 2012.
"I didn't plan to leave Texas again, but Tacoma was an incredible opportunity," Broadnax says.
Dallas has just under 1.3 million residents to Tacoma's approximately 200,000 residents, and a $3.1 billion annual budget — nearly twice the size of Tacoma's biennial budget. But Broadnax says he's up for the challenge.
"It's rewarding to see my team work behind the scenes and accomplish great things," he says "My job is truly about making people appreciate the government that serves them."
And Broadnax says the best part of being in city administration is seeing the things that he had a hand in come to fruition.
"From being able to help get a public facility off the ground to helping a citizen who doesn't know where to turn, it is all very rewarding," he say. "It was the foundation I got at UNT in the M.P.A. program that helped me get where I am today."