Q&A: Jeff Jones, taking over as The Woodlands Township's new president and general manager Aug. 31, talks about his plans

The Woodlands Township conducted a nationwide search this year for a replacement for Don Norrell, who has served as the township’s general manager and president since 2006. In June, after reviewing 55 applications, the township announced the selection of Jeff Jones, who will take over the position Aug. 31. Jones is moving to the area from the Dallas suburbs, where he has served as deputy city manager for the city of Mesquite.

How did you become aware of the position of general manager/president of The Woodlands Township?

I was contacted by the executive recruiter about my interest in competing for the position. I was familiar with The Woodlands in general, and of course had driven by on numerous occasions, but I had not been inside the township. When I drove down for my first in-person interview, I was amazed by the uniqueness of its design and the high quality of The Woodlands all within the natural setting of the forest. Even the cleanliness is noticeable. There really is no place like it in Texas and maybe even the rest of America.What interested you about the role?

I felt I was ready for the next step in my career and believed I possessed the skills and experiences that aligned well with what The Woodlands was looking for in their next president. The position is a tremendous opportunity professionally, especially in the field of local government. From a personal standpoint, The Woodlands it is undoubtedly a great place to live, work and play.

Can you briefly describe your experience in city/municipal management and what you feel you will bring to this role?

I would like to think I bring a breadth and depth of experience to The Woodlands having worked for four cities over the last 25 years of my public service career. I managed nearly every city function whether it is economic development, public safety, public works, planning and zoning, budget and finance, municipal utilities, conference center, marketing and communications, art center and even a regional airport. More importantly, from a leadership perspective, I have a track record of building a culture that is conducive for providing excellent customer service, streamlining operations and delivering measurable results.

What do you feel will be the most challenging aspect of this role?

The pandemic will certainly continue to be a challenge. The health of the public and our employees will continue to be a top priority, as well as the health of the local economy and its impact on the township budget. Certainly, at some point in the future, the issue of incorporation may be worthy of a re-examination.

What additional challenges or responsibilities do you feel the current pandemic situation brings to the GM role?

Getting to know people in the community and within the organization as quickly as possible is extremely important to me. Obviously, that will be a challenge given the pandemic and social distancing protocols. The same holds true when it comes to community input and community engagement. We have to find ways to keep the public safe and yet still provide ample opportunity for their voices to be heard. Last, the pandemic is also changing the way in which we work, and I expect that how and where we work will continue to evolve.

Have you previously worked with an entity that explored incorporation or successfully incorporated?

While I have not worked for a municipality that was exploring incorporation, I have worked for cities that had significant charter changes as well as general obligation bond sales, both of which required voter approval.

The board of directors will determine if incorporation will be pursued, and then ultimately it will be up to the voters to decide.

We will strive to be the very best stewards we can for those who call The Woodlands home.

How do you feel the township is positioned to recover from the economic difficulties of the pandemic this year?

The Woodlands economy is much more diversified today than ever before. Health care jobs now rival that of oil and gas employment, and tourism and convention business are significant drivers as well. That economic diversity will play a big factor in the recovery. The Woodlands Township is positioned extremely well for a quick recovery.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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