Meet City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, ICMA-CM, AICP, CEcD
Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark (pronounced Rye-Vin-Bark) was appointed City Manager for the City of Coral Gables effective December 2014. Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark has more than 30 years of distinguished municipal government experience and is a Credentialed City Manager, an accredited Economic Developer, and a Certified Urban Planner. Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark is a graduate of Coral Gables Senior High and after receiving her BA in Political Science at Purdue University and her Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin (with coursework in public policy, strategic planning, and economic development), she returned to her hometown City Beautiful where she has lived for almost 35 years just a few blocks from the alma mater.
As City Manager, she implements important Commission policies predicated on strong fiscal management, a rich history of aesthetics and service, environmental stewardship, state of the art public safety, and a work environment known for high ethical standards and professional accountability. The City is proud to hold AAA Bond Ratings with all three national ratings agencies (Moody’s Stand & Poor’s, and Fitch) in addition to having an ISO Class 1/fully accredited Fire Department, a Gold CALEA Standard with Excellence for Police, and the recent reaccreditation for Parks and Recreation. Under her leadership, the City is embarking on an exciting three-year strategic plan to focus on process improvements, strategic public safety initiatives, increased open space, accelerated innovation, critical capital improvements, and enhancements to ensure a high quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors. New partnerships with education, economic development, transportation, technology, and other advancements are also underway. She is one of three employees, along with City Attorney Miriam Ramos and City Clerk Walter Foeman, appointed directly by the City Commission.
Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark is the former City Manager for the City of Hollywood, a mid-size full service South Florida urban coastal city of 145,000 residents, 1600 employees (full and part time), 15 departments, and $219 million in General Fund budget. As City Manager, she designed a City-wide work program to implement Commission-driven priorities while also enhancing organizational culture, accountability, and team problem-solving. Under her leadership, Hollywood was able to remove a “negative outlook” on bond ratings, build up reserves, reintroduce capital investment. Through a series of collaborative yet cost-effective initiatives, the City became “financially healthier, physically safer, commercially stronger, residentially more desirable, and organizationally better.” Because of her direct leadership, the City successfully negotiated the private development of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, on city-owned property resulting in additional tax base, new rental incomes and new momentum for the ocean-side community.
Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark was previously the City of Coral Gables Development Director, supervising economic development activities, including business retention, multinational recruitment, retail development, and public/private joint ventures through RFP process (i.e., the Gables Grand, the Village of Merrick Park, the remodeled Coral Gables Country Club, and the Palace at Coral Gables) which resulted in new revenues, right-sized development, new energy, and new tax base. She assisted in the purchase of Miracle Theater and the transformation to Actors’ Playhouse as a non-traditional anchor on City’s premier retail street, facilitated Coral Gables Art Cinema, and drafted Transfer of Development Rights to assist downtown historic properties.