Public Works Director

City of Gaithersburg, MD | Full-time


The Position

The City of Gaithersburg is seeking a customer-focused, collaborative leader who can take the Public Works Department to the next level in employee and community engagement and find a healthy balance between a strong operational focus and a long-term strategic approach to the City’s assets. The next Public Works Director has the opportunity to work in a city that is well-managed, provides excellent services, and enjoys community support, thanks to its team of city staff who work diligently to provide great service to the community. Serving in a financially and politically stable city that is fast-growing and diverse, this position helps continue the City’s reputation for responsive and high-quality services to all its residents and businesses.

The Public Works Director provides leadership and direction to an integrated team of professionals in the Public Works Department with responsibility for a full range of Public Works services through four main divisions: Engineering Services, Facilities Maintenance and Capital Projects, Operations, and Stormwater Management. This includes oversight of maintenance, operation, planning, engineering, and construction activities of Public Works projects. Activities may include street maintenance, bulk collections, recycling, traffic, equipment maintenance, street lighting, facilities maintenance, landscaping and beautification, storm drainage, stormwater management, and snow removal. The Public Works Director has five direct reports, which include four division chiefs and the City’s sustainability coordinator.

The Director is responsible for planning and implementing programs for the community and working collaboratively with regional, state, and federal agencies. The Director works very closely with the City Manager and Deputy City Manager on developing the City’s capital improvement budget, executing the CIP, assisting in securing the necessary funding and resources for projects, and reviewing all work activities to ensure efficient and safe operations and conformance with established state, county, and city standards, regulations, and policies. The Public Works Department is responsible for construction, maintenance, and repair of City facilities infrastructure; reviewing private development projects for compliance with the City’s standards; and developing and implementing major departmental policies. The Director manages the development and implementation of the Public Works Department strategy, collaborating with the Division Leaders to create subsequent work plans, goals, objectives, policies, and priorities for each area.

The Director reports directly to the City Manager and works very closely with the Deputy City Manager who oversees the Public Works function. This dynamic and innovative leader guides the Department through long-range planning, plan implementation, and everyday maintenance and operations with a strong focus on customer service.

The Organization

The City of Gaithersburg is a municipality that shares local government taxing authority with Montgomery County, Maryland. The City operates under the council-manager form of government, wherein the Mayor and five City Council members serve as the legislative body. The Mayor and City Council are elected at-large to serve staggered four-year terms. The City Manager is appointed by the Mayor and City Council to serve as the City’s Chief Executive Officer. The City Manager is responsible for the implementation of policies and budget established by the Mayor and City Council.

The City of Gaithersburg employs 425.48 FTEs, and the City’s FY 2021 total adopted expenditure budget is $69.3 Million. The City has no debt and operates on a pay-go philosophy.

As mandated by state law, Montgomery County provides schools, libraries, social services, and fire protection for the City of Gaithersburg. In addition to the Montgomery County Police, Gaithersburg residents are served by the City’s own Police Department, which will be moving into a new facility that will also house a new City Council Chambers.

In 2019, the City conducted its biannual citizen satisfaction survey. Survey results that emphasize the City’s overall quality of life include the following:

  • 86% of respondents describe Gaithersburg as an excellent or good place to live
  • 79% of respondents rated the overall quality of City services as excellent or good
  • 74% of respondents gave high marks to the customer service of City employees
  • 85% of respondents rated the overall quality of City parks as excellent or good
  • Gaithersburg receives high marks for public safety, the quality of its police services, overall appearance, health and wellness opportunities, and the natural environment
  • The quality of the City’s recreation programs and recreation centers exceeds national benchmarks
  • Out of the 289 communities surveyed, Gaithersburg ranked #11 for its openness and acceptance of people of diverse backgrounds

The Public Works Department

The mission of the Public Works Department is to improve the quality of life in the City by maintaining and preserving the City’s infrastructure, parks, and facilities in an attractive and safe condition. The Department is dedicated to providing high-quality and cost-effective services to our customers.

  • Engineering Services
  • Facilities Maintenance and Capital Projects
  • Operations
  • Stormwater Management

The Department’s FY 2021 total budget is approximately $15.3 Million, and it consists of 93.5 FTEs.

Experience and Education

Minimum qualifications are a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field and five (5) years of progressively knowledgeable and responsible experience in public works and civil engineering and/or private sector civil engineering, with at least three (3) years in a management capacity.

Preferred qualifications include experience with municipal finance and budgeting, expenditure tracking, capital improvement programming, and project management. Experience within a city, county, or regional office or firm that does considerable work for local government agencies is strongly preferred. Prior experience in change management with the ability to leverage best practices in a growing community is ideal. A master’s degree and/or Professional Engineering (PE) license are preferred but not required.

Applicants must possess or be able to obtain a valid Maryland driver’s license. Residency is not required.

The Ideal Candidate

The City of Gaithersburg is seeking an experienced Public Works professional who is a team leader, collaborative in nature, and passionate about providing high-quality public services to the community. Excited by the projects and initiatives in Gaithersburg, the Public Works Director understands the importance of maintaining existing infrastructure while designing and building necessary improvements and planning for future growth.

The ideal candidate demonstrates a high level of ethics and emotional intelligence, sound judgment, effective decision-making, and provides thoughtful recommendations to staff and elected officials. The Public Works Director is a proactive problem-solver who is personable, responsive, and innovative. The Director has strong project and time management skills and a demonstrated aptitude for managing multiple projects and deadlines. The successful candidate is comfortable operating in the political, administrative, and technical aspects of the position.

The successful candidate demonstrates the ability to dive into the details of a project while also developing the long-term strategic direction of the Department. The Director has exceptional financial acumen and easily communicates the cost and budget implications of ongoing infrastructure needs while articulating why improvements are needed for community members. The Director multi-tasks with ease, shifting gears quickly to prioritize and balance workloads and resources to meet project demands.

With a learner’s mindset, the Public Works Director employs a leadership style that invites participation and gathers input from the talented Public Works team and engages with employees at all levels of the organization. A natural convener and collaborator, the ideal candidate recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships. An approachable leader, the successful candidate models behaviors expected throughout the organization, including mutual respect, accountability, commitment to high-quality work, and sound customer service. The ideal candidate is an active listener known for supporting employees and removing barriers to enable success and fosters a culture of trust and learning. The Director is fully invested in the staff’s continued success and development and serves as a mentor and coach. This individual encourages creative thinking and provides staff with support, direction, and feedback. The Director advocates for staff and builds strong working relationships both inside and outside of the Department. The successful candidate is team-oriented, establishes clear expectations, effectively delegates, and holds staff accountable.

The successful candidate possesses strong communication skills and the ability to connect with staff, elected officials, the growing community, and other partners. The next Public Works Director has demonstrated experience in presenting and communicating complex issues in an understandable manner. This individual has a background in community outreach and civic engagement and understands the importance of not only providing the public with accurate and timely information but in being accessible, responsive, and transparent. The next Public Works Director is an effective mediator and consensus builder and is politically savvy.

The Public Works Director embraces the ongoing process of updating processes and increasing capabilities and technology readiness to deliver excellence in our services. With an eye on process improvement and innovation, the Director brings a fresh perspective and a fresh approach to Public Works projects and initiatives.

The Community

The City of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a thriving, culturally diverse, and vibrant community in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, located north of the nation’s capital. Gaithersburg began as a small settlement at the juncture between two ancient Native American trails, now Frederick Avenue and Diamond Avenue. The arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1873 sparked a business and agricultural expansion that made the Gaither settlement the commercial center for upper Montgomery County, and it was incorporated as the Town of Gaithersburg in 1878. A second major expansion occurred in the 1960s, when the Atomic Energy Commission headquarters (now the Department of Energy) and the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) relocated to the vicinity, spurring residential and commercial growth that continues to this day.

The City of Gaithersburg greatly values its socioeconomic and cultural diversity. Gaithersburg was recently recognized by WalletHub as the most diverse small city and overall second most diverse city in the United States. The City’s racial and ethnic demographics are 47.9% White, 25.9% Hispanic or Latino, 17.6% Black or African American, 18.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, and 4.6% who identify as two or more races. Additionally, the City had the second-highest level of educational-attainment diversity in 2019, according to WalletHub, and the fourth-highest rate of linguistic diversity.

When the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) relocated to the Gaithersburg area, it brought tremendous growth in the fields of science and research. Today, NIST is the largest employer in the immediate region. Other large employers located within city limits include AstraZeneca; Leidos; Asbury Methodist Village; GeneDx, Inc.; Sodexo USA; and Hughes Network Systems, LLC.

Gaithersburg is the third-largest city in Maryland and one of the state’s fastest-growing communities. The City is a major international location for biotech companies and boasts award-winning schools, neighborhoods, and commercial developments. Its respect for its heritage, demonstrated by the revitalization efforts in the Olde Towne residential and commercial district and coupled with thoughtful planning for new communities and a commitment to cultural and recreational activities, has earned the City national acclaim.

Thoughtful, innovative planning defines the Gaithersburg community and can be seen in a wide variety of neighborhoods, which brings diversity in the housing options for residents. The Kentlands, celebrating its 31st anniversary, is one of the first “New Urbanist” neighborhoods built in the United States and was designed to be a walkable, mixed-use community. It occupies land that was once the farmstead of Otis Kent, just as much of modern Gaithersburg is built on historic farmland. The newest development, Downtown Crown, has brought additional mixed-use with a thriving area of restaurants, retail, and residential that complements the adjacent and established Rio/Washingtonian area. Even with this growth, Gaithersburg’s rural roots still influence the soul of the City, which has retained its small-town commitments to character, customer service, and collaboration as it has grown.

Gaithersburg is consistently recognized for its high quality of life. In 2016, 24/7 Wall Street ranked Gaithersburg among the top 25 places in America to live, citing the community’s high median household income and extensive entertainment and recreational opportunities. In 2018, placed Gaithersburg among the top 10 Best Cities for STEM Workers. Additionally, the City has earned Tree City USA status since 1990 and been awarded the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 18 consecutive years and the GFOA’s Excellence in Financial Reporting Award every year since 1978.

The City’s many special events and recreational opportunities make it a great place to work and live. Since 2010, the City has hosted the Gaithersburg Book Festival. Other large regional events include SummerFest, Oktoberfest, and the ever-popular Winter Lights Festival.

Gaithersburg is known for its entrepreneurial and startup business environment as new technology companies arrive each year to take advantage of the City’s excellent location and dynamic workforce.

Gaithersburg is accessible via many modes of transportation, allowing easy access to the Washington, D.C. area and the greater Mid-Atlantic region. The City is bisected by the 12-lane I-270 freeway connecting Gaithersburg to the Washington Beltway to points west, and Gaithersburg is the western terminus of the Inter-County Connector linking I-270 to I-95. The Metro system’s Red Line has its northern terminus just beyond the City’s southern border, and the City is also served by a robust bus transit system and the Maryland Association of Rail Commuters (MARC) train, with two stops in Gaithersburg carrying rail commuters to and from Washington, D.C. The City is within an hour’s drive of all three major airports in the Baltimore/Washington region.

Because of its proximity to the nation’s capital and major global industries, the City plays host to many international and domestic visitors. Gaithersburg enjoys one of the highest educated labor pools in the country. In fact, Maryland ranks fourth in percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree and second in the percentage with a graduate or professional degree.

Quick Facts

  • Population (January 2020 est.): 70,199
  • Median Household Income (2014-2018): $86,427
  • Median Value of Owner-Occupied Housing Units (2014-2018): $389,700
  • Median Age: 35.7
  • Educational Attainment (2013-2017): 53.3% of persons age 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree or higher

All demographic information was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.


The expected hiring range is $140,000 - $175,000, depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefits package.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with the first review of applications on March 10, 2021.


Please direct questions to Catherine Tuck Parrish at or 513-221-0500.

Download Recruitment Brochure