Danielle McKenzie is no stranger to serving others. As assistant director of Advanced Programs, she is already doing great things for others. Now, as a city council member for the City of Moore, she continues to live out a mission of service. She discussed her new role with us, as well as telling us a bit about her goals and hopes for Moore.
What do you do with Advanced Programs and what do you enjoy the most?
Advanced Programs offers degrees from the University of Oklahoma to military and nontraditional students at 23 sites around the world. As the Assistant Director, I oversee the coordination of budgeting, personnel, contracts and licensure, and operational needs within the unit. Since joining AP in January of 2014, I have coordinated a complete overhaul of our information system database, APMIS, which explored each process and business practice to ensure that we were effectively working to meet the organization’s needs. What I enjoy most is the mission of the organization. Serving our military and nontraditional students through higher education is very rewarding.
How long have you lived in Moore and what do you like about it?
I have lived in Moore my entire life. I attended Moore Schools (where I met my husband), attended OU for my undergrad, then moved back to Moore and got married. We have two sons who are 10 and 16. Before college, I envisioned moving far away from my hometown to change the world but quickly realized that I can have a very real impact exactly where I am. Moore is a medium-sized city, located between two prominent cities in Oklahoma, but it has developed its own personality. I love that the people you meet in Moore are invested in the community at various levels and really focus on everyone succeeding.
What made you decide to run for city council and what goals do you have while serving?
After the May 20, 2013 tornado, I joined the Planning Commission, which helps plan and zone the city. I served three years on that commission. After serving on Planning Commission, I had the opportunity to serve on several committees and workgroups and hear perceptions from the citizens on what they think Moore wants and needs. In April 2016, I took over what remained of a City Council, Ward 1 seat, hoping to bring something different to the table. In December 2016, I ran for re-election and won. My term runs from April 2017 to April 2021. Some of my goals include raising support to initiate curbside recycling to Moore, as we are one of the largest cities in the state that does not offer this amenity. We also are working on a master plan for bridges. Fourth street at the railroad tracks in Ward 1 (my ward) continues to cause traffic and safety issues due to the lack of passability on the train tracks at various times of the day. This is something we are hoping to address through Transportation Grant Funding. Traffic remains an issue that I would like to see addressed through alternative routes and smart planning. Lastly, I think revitalization of older areas and growth outside of 19th street and I-35 are areas I would like to see improved over my next term.
Have there been any surprises you’ve encountered thus far?
The biggest surprise that I have encountered is that most calls and complaints I get are about streets and traffic. That was not what I expected; I assumed that the calls would range in several areas that the city handles, but 90% of the calls are about potholes.
Are you involved in any other local government roles? Do you have plans to get involved in any other civil government projects/efforts?
As a city council member, I do represent the city on many committees and workgroups that range from future planning to workgroups with other city leaders and government organizations. Being a city councilwoman for Moore takes up at least two nights a week. Outside of that, I’m a mom and wife. I attend little league games and PTA meetings like anyone else. I am fortunate to be able to attend these meetings as another parent, then relay other people’s thoughts at later times as their council member, which I feel is very helpful.
How do you see your current Outreach position and your city council position intersecting? Are there any interesting parallels in your eyes?
Both my AP position and my city council position have strong missions of service to others. It challenges me, and hopefully, others, to look past yourself and toward a bigger picture. The overlap happens with the network and knowledge that I have built with both positions. I believe that I am a better councilwoman because I have spent years serving others in my working life.
Your work seems to greatly benefit your community and the student populations you serve. Are there any ways you see your work benefitting your life as well?
Outside of being on city council, I really enjoy involving my two boys in local government and volunteer work. As a random fact, my 10-year-old has spent the last four years of his life going to government meetings. I hope to instill a sense of duty to your home into my boys.