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Lucas County Administrator Breaks Ground as First Woman, First African American

By Linda Nelson

Sojourner’s Truth Reporter


Laura Lloyd-Jenkins never imagined that life’s circumstances and the decisions that she made because of them would lead her from California to Ohio and to one of Lucas County’s most important positions as steward of a $500 million budget and the manager of more than 3000 county employees.


Lloyd-Jenkins, 38,  took the post as Lucas County Administrator on Feb. 4, 2013, replacing Peter Ujvagi, and becoming the first black, first woman and, possibly, the first person outside of Lucas county to be appointed to the position. Now she serves as the nexus between the county commissioners, and the10 county departments that she oversees.


Laura Lloyd-Jenkins

Her journey to here began conventionally enough. Born and raised in California, Lloyd-Jenkins was one of seven children. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Hayward and jumped into what she describes as “the lucrative business of the dot-com boom.” 


Lloyd-Jenkins clearly remembers September 2011, and how the companies who had once been on top folded. She and her co-workers were told they no longer had jobs.


“We didn’t see it coming,” she said. “We were escorted to our vehicles by security.” It would be six months before she found employment. “I lived off of savings and unemployment until someone told me about a job opening in the Human Resource Department in Alameda County. “I took the job thinking it would be temporary while I waited for the boom to end,” she said. It never did. Lloyd-Jenkins would work there for 11 years


Along the way she got her MBA in strategic management – also from Cal State – moved to the department of Budget and Finance and met her husband, Cordell Jenkins, pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo. Still, she did not see herself where she is today. Even after her husband returned to Toledo, Lloyd-Jenkins had no immediate plans to join him.


“I always thought that I would work in the private sector and recruitment,” she said “I was content with the long distance relationship with my husband, and with where I was.”  But eventually she started to search for job openings on the Lucas County website. She had the qualifications and the experience, but it would be two years before the administrator position became available. Lloyd-Jenkins was chosen out of 100 applicants.


As administrator, Lloyd-Jenkins works under the direction of County Commissioners Carol Contrada, Pete Gerkin and Tina Skeldon Wozniak. Her duties are multi-faceted, and encompass the enforcement and execution of board policies that include supervising and assisting heads of departments in their job function.


“We try to make collective decisions that benefit everyone,” she said. 


Lloyd-Jenkins is also required to attend board meetings, give recommendations to the board concerning policies, and procedures, keep the board informed of the financial condition of the county, monitor department budgets and prepare new budgets for the fiscal year. Also, the administrator has the power to interpret county laws, rules and regulations to insure that county programs are within those laws through interactions with county prosecutor.


Currently the department is working on labor/wage negotiations, and Lloyd-Jenkins is hopeful that her team will be successful in the ability to give county employees, who have not had a wage increase in six years, raises. “Since there has been a slight uptake in county revenue we need to look at raises for employees,” she said. “When an employee has not received a raise in that long morale is clearly affected. We can’t forget about taking care of our employees.”


Another task that the office is working to fulfill in the near future is building a more efficient county jail. Lloyd-Jenkins says she would like to see the now nine-story building transformed to a more manageable and cost effective one-story facility. Right now they are looking at all of the elements needed in order to make this happen, including location, revenue options and staffing ratios. But the office must also decide on how funds will be allocated for counseling, re-entry programs and education.


With so much to do the hours required from her are long and unpredictable. And although Lloyd-Jenkins says she is physically in the office 50 to 60 hours a week, there is always the potential for the late evening call. She experienced this recently when the power at the jail went out. “We had generators but we still had to figure out how we were going to feed and take care of the inmates as well as maintain the safety of the employees.”


Still, as first lady of her husband’s church, Lloyd-Jenkins has to divide her time between her faith and politics. When asked how she balances her faith and her job Lloyd-Jenkins says “I’m not ashamed of my faith. I can separate the two. But I also, at times, have to make some tough decisions.”  She emphasizes that her peers know who she is and what she stands for, and in spite of her busy schedule she still wants to be an example. “I am working to change a culture around here and dispel the notion that administrative government positions are only for white males.”


Lloyd-Jenkins stresses that county employees have been warm and welcoming to her, but that coming from a place where diversity was normal, into Lucas County, which is structured differently, she realizes how important her presence in the community is  “My ministry and the impact that I have on people are important. It should be normal for people to see others who look like them.”


And the advice that Lloyd-Jenkins gives to the coming generation is to “Be prepared, have a plan and a vision. For me college was not an option.”


Her push right now is the desire for the community to know how the government works. “Many people don’t know that this is not an elected position,” she said. “I was appointed to this position. April is National Counties Month. Get out on social media, attend a board meeting, go to the website or pick up the phone and call.”


Copyright © 2014 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:32 -0700.

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Copyright © 2014 The Sojourner's Truth. All Rights Reserved.