Influential Deputy City Manager Debra Collins retires

Deputy City Manager Debra Collins (image via City of Alexandria

Longtime Deputy City Manager Debra Collins is retiring at the end of this week after nearly 20 years working for the city.

Collins’ 19-year career in the City of Alexandria included helping to kickstart ACT for Alexandria and the consolidation of city services in the West End.

In a release, Alexandria City Manager James Parajon said Collins’ last day will be July 1.

Collins joined the city in September 2003 as the Director of Alexandria’s Department of Human Services, having previously worked at the Erie County Department of Social Services in Buffalo, New York and non-profits.

According to the release:

During her career in Alexandria, Collins became Assistant City Manager after spearheading the consolidation of three City agencies, including the Department of Human Services, into the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). Later, she became a Deputy City Manager, responsible for the oversight of the City’s public safety agencies (Alexandria Police Department, Alexandria Fire Department, Department of Emergency Communications), DCHS, the Department of Human Resources, the Office of Human Rights, and the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities.

She served as the City Liaison to the Health Department, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Court Service Unit, the Alexandria Library, and the Sheriff’s Office. She was also responsible for all City grant funding to nonprofits and functions as the City’s lead staff to the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS).

Collins is credited with helping to lead the unification of city services into a new West End facility, the Redella S. “Del” Pepper Community Resource Center — or the West End City Hall.

“Collins also worked, in partnership with ACT for Alexandria, to create the Center for Alexandria’s Children, an advocacy and education center for families, and the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations,” the release said. “Additionally, Collins was instrumental in the creation of ACT for Alexandria’s Spring for Alexandria, an annual day of service, and Spring2ACTion, an annual day of giving in support of the City’s nonprofit organizations.”

Interim Deputy City Managers Kendel Taylor and Jean Kelleher will continue in their acting roles while the city searches for a new deputy city manager.

“Debra has led and supported so many important programs and initiatives that directly affect Alexandrians,” said City Manager James Parajon. “She has held a variety of critical roles in her nearly two decades of service in Alexandria, leading our social services, public safety departments, and recreation programs, among other key functions. I am grateful for her leadership and her work to make the city better for multiple generations of Alexandrians.”