Mark Washington has been Grand Rapids’ City Manager since October 2018. As City Manager, he functions as the municipal corporation’s Chief Executive Officer. He oversees a $540 million budget, a 1,600-person workforce and all city departments, operations, policies and programs related to public safety, economic development, community services, mobility, infrastructure, health, environment, recreation and community engagement. He is committed to making Grand Rapids a city that is nationally recognized for being equitable, welcoming, innovative and collaborative with a robust economy, safe and healthy community and the opportunity for a high quality of life for all.
Since arriving in Grand Rapids, Mark has led efforts to create a four-year strategic plan, reduce the overall cost of government services, create a performance management program, launch an equitable economic development and mobility strategy, create a public safety oversight and accountability office to improve community-police relations, establish both an equity office and innovation office, launch a homeless outreach team and reaffirm the City’s commitment to sustainability.
Mark has 26 years of experience in public sector service. Before becoming Grand Rapids’ City Manager, he served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Austin, Texas. In that role, he assisted the City Manager in operating a workforce of 14,000 employees and a $4.1 billion budget. He also provided direct executive oversight to several departments, including human resources, labor relations, fleet services, communications and technology management, building services, innovation, telecommunications, regulatory affairs and the Austin Convention Center. He provided executive leadership on labor contract negotiations, improving police oversight and community relations, hosting and planning large events such as South by Southwest (SXSW) and creating public-private partnerships to address community challenges such as equity, homelessness, digital inclusion, housing/tenant rights, right-of-way uses for disruptive technology and workforce development for marginalized populations.
Before that, Mark served as Director of Human Resources and Civil Service for the City of Austin. In that role, he led efforts that resulted in the City of Austin being recognized among the top 10 employers by Forbes Magazine thanks to efforts around strategic planning, talent management, employee engagement, labor management, risk management, equity, benefits and leadership development. He previously served as Assistant Director of Human Resources for the City of Fort Worth, Texas (6,500 employees), overseeing compensation, benefits, wellness, safety and workers’ compensation. He also served as Street Services Operations Program Manager for the City of Fort Worth, overseeing its in-house street maintenance and overlay program.
He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Tarleton State University, a master’s degree in business administration from Amberton University and a master of arts degree and doctorate degree in education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mark is a member of the International City/County Management Association and Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. He also serves on the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Spectrum Health Community Commitment, National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Tarleton State University College of Business advisory boards. He is a Trustee of the Michigan Municipal League and Paul Quinn College. He previously served as State President of the International Public Management Association Texas chapter and is a former board member of the Texas Municipal Human Resources Association and Austin Area Urban League, among other organizations. He holds the following certifications: International Public Management Association-Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-HR-SCP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), HR Certification Institute and Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and Certified Government Benefit Administrator certification from the state and local Government Benefit Association (CGBA), among others. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and he is an ordained minister.