Elena Quintanilla received her B.B.A. in Marketing in 1993 and her Master of Public Administration in 1995, both from Texas Tech. Starting in 2015, she became the city manager for Ransom Canyon, a city with a population of approximately 1,100 people.
As city manager, she leads a staff of 11 and oversees a budget of anywhere from $1.8 million to $2.6 million, depending on the capital or infrastructure projects that occur in any given year. Her office is in charge of supervising the police department, city construction projects and the delivery of water, sewer and garbage. The office also works closely with the volunteer fire department to make sure it has the resources it needs. This year, the city constructed a new City Hall.
The city manager is also responsible for reviewing current legislation and assessing the impact on the town. Recently, she has been working with other cities and Texas legislators to review legislation on property taxation and annexation, which could have positive impacts on the economic development for the city.
"It is critical to meet the growth of our community through strategic planning and looking at opportunities that are important to our citizens," she said. "The planning of these projects is critical and involves the city manager to provide clear, accurate and objective data to the City Council and Advisory Committees so they can make sound decisions about our future."
She said she feels that her marketing degree and the communication classes she took as a business student have been very beneficial to her public administration career because all services must be marketed to residents of the community.
"It is important that information is disseminated to the public in a way that clearly communicates the importance of these projects and their benefit to the community, as well as the cost," she said. "Clear and detailed communication helps our community understand the importance of these issues."
In addition to marketing, she said degrees in accounting and finance can be beneficial to a career in public administration because city managers have to be creative and innovative in how to offer the best and most reliable services to residents with limited funds.
"Recently cities have needed to operate more like businesses, but with additional mandates and state requirements that are stricter than the private sector," she said. "In an era of increasing accountability, we must be particularly careful in how we use taxpayers' money and try to find new sources of revenue."
Quintanilla says the unique educational mix she received at Texas Tech and her dedication to the city is what has contributed to her success. Her advice to current students is to remain focused on what they want to accomplish in life.
"Set goals, have a plan to achieve them, and be willing to continue when others may be tempted to give up. Your education in the Rawls College of Business is the start of an amazing journey that lies ahead," she said.