By Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount
Since February 1, 2017, the city of Rocky Mount, North Carolina has been celebrating 150 years. During this time, Rocky Mount has shaped history and celebrated many firsts, such as welcoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rocky Mount in 1968 for a delivery of the prelude to his “I Have a Dream” speech. A short time after King’s visit, the city’s first Human Relations Department was established. Many years later, in 2011, Rocky Mount’s first African-American city manager was appointed.
On Monday, July 10, 2017, the city of Rocky Mount will celebrate another first when a reception and administration of oath takes place for Rocky Mount’s first female city manager.
Rochelle D. Small-Toney began her duties Monday, July 3, 2017 after a small swearing-in ceremony was held in front of employees. On Monday, July 10, 2017, a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony will take place for Small-Toney’s family and members of the public beginning at 7pm, prior to the start of the city’s regularly scheduled council meeting. The public is also invited to attend a reception welcoming Small-Toney. The reception will be held in the first-floor atrium of the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building (City Hall), 5-6:45pm. City Hall is located at 331 S Franklin Street, in Rocky Mount.
Small-Toney, a 1978 and 1981 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Public Administration from the institution. Since that time, she has amassed 34 years of experience in government.
Most recently, the Wilmington NC native served as deputy city manager for the city of Fayetteville NC. In Fayetteville, Small-Toney also served as project director for the city’s upcoming minor league baseball stadium. The sports enthusiast oversaw all phases of the project, including the feasibility study, recruitment of the Houston Astros, a class A minor league team, development of the Memorandum of Understanding and the creation of a 30-year financial plan. The stadium and mixed-use commercial property is scheduled to be completed in 2019 and will be located in downtown Fayetteville.
Mayor David Combs and the Rocky Mount City Council are excited about Small-Toney’s appointment as city manager. Combs touted an interesting fact about Small-Toney-“she was the first female African-American to ever play women’s basketball at UNC,” stated Combs.
Prior to joining the city of Fayetteville, she worked as city manager for the city of Savannah, Georgia. She was Savannah’s first African-American and first female city manager, managing a $283 million annual budget and a $175 million five-year Capital Improvement Program.
Small-Toney’s other professional experience includes serving as assistant city manager in Danville, Virginia and Charlottesville, Virginia; assistant to the city manager for budget and management analysis in Danville, and budget analyst and personnel analyst for the city of Wilmington, N.C.
“We are happy that someone with such varied and relevant experience will lead Rocky Mount,” stated Combs. “With the advent of the Downtown Community Facility and the on-going success of the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, Small-Toney’s avid love of sports, background in athletics and oversight of large sports projects will be a tremendous asset to our growing city.”
Small-Toney is excited about her recent appointment and the positive future for Rocky Mount.
“Rocky Mount is a magical place at this time, and the vibes are growing even stronger as new developments unfold,” noted Small-Toney. “I look forward to working with all employees and our partner organizations to deliver on the expectations of city council, and leading a team of highly skilled and motivated employees to bring out the best in Rocky Mount.”