Nicole Travis was praised for her “grit, don’t quit” leadership style and her contributions to Lakeland’s building boom today after she was named deputy city manager by City Manager Shawn Sherrouse.

Travis, 39, joins a three-person city management team that includes Sherrouse and Assistant City Manager Emily Colón. Colón, 34, also received a promotion today, adding the title of manager of the newly created Division of Innovation and Strategy.

Travis was one of 11 city employees who applied for the deputy position after Sherrouse was elevated to city manager from deputy city manager in November, Sherrouse told city commissioners this afternoon when he announced the promotions.

“She is a recognized creative visionary capable of making multi-million dollar deals,” Sherrouse told commissioners. “Her work and leadership is associated with transformational projects like the city’s Catalyst Plan (for downtown), Mirrorton, Haus 820, the Yard on Mass and the Mass Market redevelopment, the Federal Building redevelopment and she was the visionary behind the Lincoln Square housing initiative.”

Travis started with the city as a redevelopment project manager 11 years ago. She was promoted to director of the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency in 2015 and director of Community and Economic Development in 2018.

“Watching the role she has taken and the leadership she has provided and the respect she has makes her wonderfully qualified for this,” Mayor Bill Mutz said.

Commissioner Stephanie Madden praised her for her “grit, don’t quit” approach, her creative problem-solving skills and her behind-the-scenes role in fostering development that has led to a resurgence of building cranes in the downtown and midtown areas.

Travis, who has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a masters’ in business administration, said she is looking forward to her new role, which is more focused on the internal workings of city government than her more public-facing current position. It has not yet been determined which departments she and Colón will oversee, she said.

A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Travis told Tampa Bay Business Journal once that her “success is inspired by my mother’s career as a member of the Virgin Islands governor’s cabinet and is fueled by being the same role model for my two young daughters, niece and other young women that my work may inspire.”

In announcing the promotions, Sherrouse said the new Division of Innovation and Strategy grew out of a reorganization of the city’s Office of Management and Budget.

Colón has been deeply involved in developing the city budget. Before coming to Lakeland in early 2019, she was a a budget analyst, budget manager and program administrator for Pasco County government.

Earlier this year, she was was listed among seven “women that are breaking down barriers and leading the next generation of the local government profession” by PM, the magazine of the International City/County Management Association. In the article, Cólon said working with people, even disgruntled ones, is what she loves about her job, and that her biggest accomplishment is leading city government through COVID-19.

The promotions of Travis and Colón take effect Sunday.

With her promotion, Travis’ annual salary goes from $142,794 to $153,983. With her new responsibilities, Colón’s annual salary is raised from $117,096 to $137,002.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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