Sean Stegall (2011)

Transforming government and people

Position: City Manager, Elgin, IL

Best known for: Budgeting and performance measurement.

Government service: Stegall began his career in 1995 as a project coordinator with the city of St. Charles, IL. In 1997, he went to work in the private sector, but returned to public service after a year, as assistant city manager in Batavia, NY, and Elgin, IL. He was promoted to city manager in 2009.

Biggest challenge: Convincing people that the world has changed and that the Great Recession has fundamentally transformed how government services will be viewed and delivered into the future. “It is very, very difficult to get people to stop thinking from an old paradigm,” he says, “because none of us were prepared for the time we’re living in now.”

Greatest reward: Helping city employees reach their potential. Stegall says he’s amazed by how much people discount their special abilities. He says believing in them goes about 90 percent of the way; the other 10 percent is giving them opportunities to showcase their talents that may be beyond the strict confines of their job title and description.

Why public service: “It chose me. I cannot remember a moment in my life when I wanted to be anything other than a public servant. I don’t remember making a conscious choice; I come from a very small family and my mother, grandmother, uncles were all public servants.”