Shelena Hawkins has been selected as the “best-qualified” candidate to become the director of the city of Albany’s Department of Community and Economic Development. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Shelena Hawkins, who has served as interim director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development since former director Latoya Cutts resigned on March 1 of last year, has emerged as the best-qualified candidate to move permanently into the position, Albany City Manager James Taylor announced.
Prior to moving into the Community and Economic Development director’s position on an interim basis, Hawkins served as deputy director of the department starting in 2009. She worked as a city planner from 2004 until being promoted to the Department of Community and Economic Development.
“Shelena is dedicated to the job and dedicated to serving the underprivileged of our community,” Taylor said. “She’s a great plannner, and that’s important in that position. She’s young, so she has work to do, but we feel that she has the ability to develop into the kind of leader it takes to run that department efficiently.
“Another thing that I really like about Shelena is that she’s dedicated to Albany; Albany is home. Her husband (Sgt. Clifford Hawkins) is an APD police officer, so their whole family is dedicated to serving this community. I think she really has the potential to be a terrific leader in our community.”
Hawkins, a native of Camden County who grew up in the tiny Woodbine community, holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Master’s of Public Administration degree. She attained both at Albany State University.
“I started college in Talledega (Alabama) but got homesick,” Hawkins said. “My mom gave me three options, and one of them was Albany State. I finished my degree in biology and stayed home after that to take care of our kids. There were things that I could give them that they wouldn’t get (at day care), so that was important. When they were ready, I decided to go back to school and get my MPA.
“While working on a three-rotational internship with Albany State, Dougherty County and Community and Economic Development, I think I found my niche. I found a position where I could have an impact on the community.”
As head of Community and Economic Development, Hawkins serves in hybrid-type position. Her department is funded fully by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, but she answers to city leadership.
“Since Albany is an entitlement city, it is eligible for HUD funds that are allocated by formula,” Hawkins said. “Our department is responsible for administering those funds on behalf of the city and making sure the agencies that utilize them follow (HUD) regulations. And even though the funding is federal, the city is ultimately responsible for them if they are not administered correctly.
“I take this role (as director) with humility and with assurances that it is a job I love. Whatever I do in life, I want to leave behind a legacy of leaving each place better than it was when I arrived.”
In compliance with Georgia’s Open Records law, Taylor provided public notice of Hawkins’ emergence as the best-qualified candidate for the CEDC position. Final action on officially naming a director of the department will be taken after a 14-day waiting period.