Tameka Allen has led the city Information Technology department since 2001 and served double duty as a deputy city administrator since 2004.
But she wasn’t the Augusta Commission’s automatic pick to serve as interim administrator after commissioners fired Fred Russell – they first took the awkward step of naming Mayor Deke Copenhaver “acting” administrator in the absence of an administrator.
On Tuesday, after a lengthy closed-door session, the commission agreed to put Allen in charge until they complete a nationwide search for Russell’s replacement.
Raised in Waynesboro and now a Keysville resident, Allen, 44, earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Savannah State University and began her Augusta government career in the city IT department in 1992. In 2005, she completed a master’s degree in business administration at Augusta State University.
A respected city employee, Allen consistently earned perfect or near-perfect evaluations throughout her Augusta career, according to her personnel file.
As deputy administrator, she oversaw the city’s IT, planning and development, housing and community development, procurement, transportation and customer service sectors.
The Chronicle sat down with Allen last week to find out more about her background and plans for the next few months.
Q: You seem to have a low-key leadership style. Are there advantages to that?
A: I guess if you mean low-key, I’m the type of leader who doesn’t necessarily need a pat on the back for doing something. I would say, yes, I am that type of leader, because one person can’t make things happen. I know I have great people that assist me. ...
I’ve always believed that a good leader doesn’t have a problem with being back with the rest of the people they work with. It takes a team to make things happen, so that’s the kind of relationship I have with the people I work with.
Q: Do you plan on applying for the permanent administrator’s job?
A: At this point, I have not decided to look at applying for that position. Right now, I am glad I got the support of the commission to do it on an interim basis. I’d be more than willing and grateful to help them until an administrator is appointed.
Q: What city affairs will keep you busiest over the next few months?
A: One of the things that
we’re going to be looking at is the SPLOST 7. I’ll be heavily involved in that, as well as looking at the budget. The departments had to meet a 2.4 percent reduction. Those are probably the top two things I’ll be working on in the next couple of months.
Q: The administrator approves most promotions, raises and terminations. How will you handle the personnel requests that come through your office?
A: It will be business as usual. I am a stickler for following guidelines and I will definitely make sure that everything that comes through will follow those guidelines.
Q: You always seem so put together. Were you always that way?
A: I’ve always been very organized and very meticulous. I keep up and plan with pretty much everything going on in my life. I feel that in order to get things accomplished, you have to plan for them. Not that the plan always comes like you initially looked at it coming, but you have to have something in play.
Q: How did you become that way?
A: Since I was young, I’ve always known which direction I wanted to go. When I was in high school, when many kids didn’t know which direction they wanted to focus, I already knew. I already had planned everything out for the next five years.
Q: Did others around you in your youth influence you?
A: I grew up in Waynesboro, Ga. I had a very good support system. I am the oldest of three children, so I always felt that I had to show some form of leadership. I wanted to set a good example for them.
Q: How would you rate Fred Russell’s performance? Any mistakes that you will try to avoid?
A: I don’t think I’m in any position to rate anybody’s performance. It probably should be left to the commission to rate that. I enjoyed working with Mr. Russell tremendously and I did learn some things from Mr. Russell.
Q: What did you learn?
A: I’m very driven, to the point that I like to see change very quickly. Sometimes you have to realize it’s not going to happen as quickly as you want. There’s many times that he had to say, ‘You know, Tameka, maybe not right now.’
And I’m not necessarily a political person. I’m just a person that likes to get the job done. I understand the politics of how things happen – but I just like to get it done, get it done. But sometimes you have to realize you have to have everything in place to make that happen, on a slower pace.
Q: Fred Russell was very media-savvy and media-friendly. What will be your approach in dealing with the media?
A: I truly believe in transparency, and I believe in making the city and citizens aware of what we’re doing, with whatever I can provide to them as far as information – because this is their city and they need to know what we’re doing. So I have no problem in being as transparent as I possibly can.