Viewpoints

A minute with...Natalie Meeks

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A minute with...Natalie Meeks, PE, Anaheim, Calif., Public Works Director. 

Under Meeks’ leadership, Anaheim Public Works has been named one of the Top 100 Fleets in North America for its work with municipal departments including parks, fire, police, and water and electric utilities. Meeks was named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar in 2010.

Name three projects of which you are most proud.

1) Early in my career with Anaheim, the residential housing market was in high gear and Anaheim annexed 1,800 acres to make room for over 5,000 new homes. I worked closely with the developers on everything from environmental clearance to infrastructure design and community amenities. We weren’t just building projects; we were creating “homes and neighborhoods” for future generations.

2) I am also extremely proud of my work around the Disneyland Resort and the Anaheim Convention Center where we transformed the area around these venues into a resort destination, coined The Anaheim Resort. In just a few short years, the area saw $5 billion in improvements, which included infrastructure, convention center expansion and a new theme park.

3) I am completing construction on the first regional transportation center in Orange County, ARTIC (Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center). The project will provide transit options and easy connections for commuters and visitors, as well as provide traveler services. More importantly, its environmentally responsible design will bring attention to the growing transit services in Orange County. I am most proud of projects like these that create places and communities, and change the way people live.

Tell us about your most challenging day at the office.

My most challenging days come when we have to slow down! Because public service involves securing funding through grants, or by determining the use of public funds, we have to do a lot of pre-planning and allow for ample time for necessary processes. Anaheim generally has a progressive culture that doesn’t get hung up on red tape, but there are people and organizations that are less solution-oriented, and that can impact progress.  

Tell us about your most rewarding day at the office.

My best days are when we complete a project and can open it for use by the community. One of my philosophies is to not over-study and over-design; the objective is to build improvements. We can’t make a difference without building something.  

Do you have any personal, proven methods for approaching municipal challenges?

I imagine that every decision or recommendation I make will be on the front page of the newspaper, which is always a possibility. I believe if you make the right decisions for the right reasons, then you can stand behind those decisions and proudly defend them.

One way in which you would change the world?

I would love to see our culture shift back toward more personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. There is certainly a strong role for government services in our society, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to strengthen their families, neighborhoods and communities.   

One fact about you people might be surprised to learn?

Not only have I worked for Anaheim over 25 years, but I grew up here watching the Disneyland fireworks from my front yard. I enjoy living and working in Anaheim. It makes me proud to serve my friends and neighbors and it creates a strong personal commitment to the future of Anaheim.

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Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...

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Jason Axelrod is an award-winning journalist who has reported for The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal and Mother Nature Network, among other outlets. Jason...
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