Mesa City Manager Honored as MPA Alumnus of the Year

PROVO, Utah – Nov 27, 2018 – The Romney Institute of Public Service & Ethics honored BYU Marriott MPA graduate Chris Brady, city manager of Mesa, Arizona, with the 2018 N. Dale Wright Alumnus of the Year Award at a luncheon on 26 October. Receiving the award was particularly meaningful for Brady because of his close ties to the award’s namesake.

“It’s humbling to receive this award,” Brady says. “Especially because it’s named after Norman Dale Wright, the man who initially encouraged me to apply to this program. To receive an award named in his honor is important to me.”

Brady’s relationship with Wright, his former MPA professor, began long before Brady applied to the MPA program when Wright lived next to Brady’s parents at BYU married student housing. “I used to tend Chris while his parents were out in the afternoons,” Wright says. Neither could have imagined that, decades later, Brady would be the recipient of an award named after his former babysitter. 

In his remarks at the MPA luncheon, Brady shared insight into unifying a massive workforce such as Mesa’s nearly four thousand city employees. The key, said Brady, is to establish a statement of core values and then take necessary measures to ensure employees adopt those values. For Brady, those measures come in the form of what he calls the “city manager’s roadshow.”

“I go to where my employees are,” Brady says. “I visit them in the fire stations. I visit them in the libraries and parks. Even at ten at night, I visit my fleet services employees who are working diligently to make sure they get those garbage trucks ready to roll out at four in the morning.”

In this roadshow series of thirty-five meetings with groups of city employees, Brady strives to reinforce the city’s core values of knowledge, respect, and integrity. “My message to the employees is this: these values will continue to endure and not change with the seasons or get replaced by the latest upgrade from Apple or Microsoft,” he says.

Those three values of knowledge, respect, and integrity are essential to any organization, something Brady has observed firsthand in the course of his career. For example, while working for the city of San Antonio, Brady recalls how the mayor exhibited those same core values.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans desperately called upon neighboring cities to house tens of thousands of refugees, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger publicly declared that San Antonio would provide for as many refugees as needed. 

Brady’s assignment was to find shelters for more than ten thousand refugees, and he was asked to do so overnight. Even though it created a logistical nightmare that many neighboring cities were not willing to take on, Brady appreciated the mayor’s resolve to maintain the city’s core values.

“We soon realized that our role was more than just providing temporary shelter,” Brady says. “We were there to restore human dignity and hope for many fellow human beings.” More than a decade later, residents still point to the Katrina refugee crisis as a singular, unifying event for the city of San Antonio.

Brady maintains that most graduates of the MPA program will face similar situations in which they must choose between upholding core values or cutting corners. He offered comforting advice to current MPA students: “You need to be humble about the opportunities ahead of you, but you can also be confident that what you are learning here and the experiences you’re having, especially in the BYU Marriott MPA program, are preparing you well for what’s out there in the world. And as you go with confidence, not afraid to learn more, you can have great success.”

Chris Brady delivers a speech at an awards luncheon
Chris Brady delivers his speech during a luncheon in the Tanner Building.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Carson Perry