City of Burbank Management Services Director Betsy McClinton has overseen human resources functions for the city since 2013. Recruitment and onboarding, training, risk management, and employee services are just some of the operations she manages in the position. Betsy is also chief negotiator of the city and the representative on the Board of Directors for the Authority for California Cities Excess Liability.
For our Q&A with Betsy, she describes how she started with the City of Burbank after earning her Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and she expresses her joy in working alongside City of Burbank colleagues.
What has your career path been like getting to your current role with the City of Burbank?
After graduating from Whittier College with a BA in Political Science, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do next! I ended up finding an internship in the city manager’s office of a nearby city. I fell in love with city government, particularly with how directly it impacts the daily lives of residents.
I left after a year to attend USC and earn a Master of Public Administration. After graduation, I began working for the City of Burbank in Public Works as an administrative analyst. Public works was a great place to start because I learned a lot about how a city government can positively impact its community’s physical environment.
I next moved to the City Managers’ Office, where I took on various projects, including serving as staff support to the city’s first Charter Review Commission. I moved to management services in 2007 to serve as the human resources and benefits lead on the implementation of the city’s new payroll system. After overseeing benefits and recruitment for several years, I became the management services director in 2013. The Management Services Department includes the city’s human resources and risk management functions, including labor relations, employee services such as benefits and training, recruitment, the city’s youth employment programs, environmental health and safety, worker’s compensation, and liability & insurance.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy working with the city’s labor groups to find solutions that positively benefit the city, the Burbank community, and the city’s employees. I truly believe in the meet and confer process that occurs between management and labor. I have found throughout my career that there are interests that align between management and labor and that focusing on those interests can solve most challenges.
I also love working with the city team, both the staff in management services and the executive team. The current management services staff is the most dedicated, hardworking group of people I know. I love working through problems with them daily and am grateful that they continually challenge me. The city’s current executive team is an inspiring group, and there isn’t a meeting I’m in with them where I don’t come away with some tidbit or recommendation that I immediately take back to management services.
How does it feel to be a female serving in a leadership position for the city?
I feel very lucky to work for the City of Burbank and to be able to contribute to the welfare of the Burbank community. And to do so alongside so many incredible women is an amazing gift I did not envision when I first started my career over 20 years ago.
Which women in your life have inspired you the most to go after your goals?
I am incredibly fortunate to have worked with several outstanding female leaders at the city, notably Mary Alvord, who served as city manager when I worked in the City Manager’s Office; Marsha Ramos, who I worked with while she was mayor; and Judie Wilke, who I worked with for more than five years when she was management services director. Each of these women significantly influenced the choices I’ve made in my career, and I certainly would not be in my current position without them! And of course, I must mention my mom, Jeanie Dolan, who, in her sixties, went back to school to earn her master’s degree.
What advice would you impart to young girls pursuing their dreams?
Don’t let fear hold you back. Take risks and expect that you will fail at some point. Messing up means that you are reaching, stretching, and growing yourself. As long as you are respectful, ethical, and take responsibility for your actions, there is little that you can’t recover from!