Movers & Shakers: Public Servants

Each year, Cary Magazine honors young people who are making a lasting impact in Western Wake, whether they are entrepreneurs or educators, artists or advocates. These four honorees are making the towns we live in safer, more connected, and more equitable through their work in local government.

Joshua Almond

Lieutenant, Morrisville Police Department

According to American businessman and Firestone founder Harvey S. Firestone, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Morrisville PD’s Lieutenant Almond has reached the stage in his own leadership development journey where he actively works to develop others.

He shares: “Recently, I was able to see an officer I’ve mentored over the years achieve a promotion to corporal as well as receive Officer of the Year.” The success of others, as Almond has learned, is the success of all and, he says, “displays the importance of investing in the growth of team members and the positive impact it can have on the agency.”

When it comes to his own success, Almond is similarly outwardly focused: “My proudest accomplishment is undoubtedly my marriage to my incredible wife and raising two remarkable children,” Almond says. “Without them by my side, I would not be able to accomplish the other great accomplishments throughout life.”

Some of those accomplishments are related to his career in law enforcement, an interest that was sparked by volunteering at a rescue squad and working car wrecks. Seeing the aftermath of collisions led to a desire to understand how they occurred — something that Almond has pursued in his career as a police department crash reconstructionist.

As far as his continued growth is concerned, Almond is circumspect: “I’ve come to recognize that in the realm of leadership, the moment you think you’ve learned it all is the moment you should reconsider your role. Every day presents opportunities for growth, and I actively seek chances to expand my understanding and skills as a leader.”

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Kerrin Cox

Communications Coordinator, Town of Apex

Working in communications for the Town of Apex offers Cox a “unique lens into every department within our town government.” While it’s not possible to be an expert on all departments, Cox acknowledges, it has given her “the opportunity to get to know many important pieces so that I can better communicate to the community.” In her role, Cox’s motivation is “always twofold: to help our community members know what is going on in their local government, and to tell the stories and accomplishments of our staff.”

Cox’s favorite accomplishment thus far in her career has been “leading an amazing group of staff in planning and executing the Town of Apex’s sesquicentennial.” The yearlong 150th anniversary celebration ended earlier this year and “unified community members, created common understanding, and challenged everyone to go ‘all in’ by participating in over 150 ways to celebrate throughout the year,” Cox explains.

Possessing a love for local government work that was established while she was in college, Cox knows that “Unlike federal or state governments, local, municipal governments have a unique opportunity to truly know the people they serve.” In her work with communications for the Town, she says internal and external communications are “both at the forefront of my mind … and I love when I get the opportunity to bring the two together to tell the stories of our community to the world.”

Since 2015, when Cox started her career with the Town of Apex, her roles and duties have shifted — from working in economic development to town-wide communications — with every change strengthening her “love for service.” As Cox explains, “Knowing that my work contributes to community members feeling proud to call Apex home, understanding the important work of our town staff, and engaging with various programs and initiatives, means everything to me and keeps me going, even on the tough days.”

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Brittany Johnson

Planner II, Town of Morrisville

Johnson’s favorite accomplishment “has been helping to establish the Town of Morrisville’s inaugural mural program.” The mural program is just one component of an evolving public art program and was introduced within the Planning Department’s 2021–2024 Business Strategy Plan. Morrisville’s mural program was, for Johnson, “a labor of love,” and allowed her to combine her passion for art and love of planning.

“As the installation of the first murals draw near” — in summer 2024 — Johnson says, “I can now take a moment to reflect on the people and steps that it took to see this plan through to fruition.” She formed and led a multi-departmental mural advisory committee, which consisted of staff members from Parks and Recreation, Communications, and Public Works Departments.  The committee conducted research on existing mural programs within other municipalities and assessed the strengths and weaknesses of those programs.

As the committee then honed the vision for the mural program, the Morrisville Town Council provided essential feedback and guidance. Once the program’s framework was in place, the text amendments to Unified Development Ordinance, needed to facilitate the program, were processed. Eventually, locations and artists were selected by the Town Council.

Thanks to the various tasks achieved, the Morrisville Mural program reached its goal of “activating and enhancing the cultural connectivity and vitality of the Town of Morrisville through engaging artwork and creative placemaking,” according to Johnson: “We aim to honor the Town’s natural beauty,” she continues, as well as “add to the collection of public art, and provide opportunities for community engagement. We want all murals to be colorful and inspiring for residents and visitors, and to reflect the unique characteristics of Morrisville!”

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Morgan Mansa

Deputy Director of Housing, Wake County

The “power of the pivot” is, for Mansa, “the most impactful lesson I have learned.” As she explains: “Like most people, there were experiences in my career and life that didn’t go according to plan. In those moments, it felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t know how I was going to overcome what I perceived to be adversity. Now, instead of allowing myself to feel defeated, I immediately say to myself, There’s probably something better waiting for me.”

When Mansa and her husband relocated to Nashville, the Chicago native was faced with leaving her friends, family, and professional network. In hindsight, though, she considers the move to Nashville “critical for giving us the geographic proximity to do a road trip to this region and learn about the high-quality of life and opportunities here.”

Today, Mansa can’t imagine living anywhere else or having a career that doesn’t serve the people of this community.

After first helping to transform the landscape of affordable housing in Cary by authoring Cary’s first housing plan, which, Mansa says, “intentionally integrated other Cary priorities such as the environment, transportation, and economic development,” she is excited about her new chapter at Wake County, which offers her “an opportunity to broaden my geographic impact and support even more residents needing access to high quality housing in our community.”

Those powerful pivots, Mansa acknowledges, led to some of the best decisions in her life.

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Find the full list of 2024 Movers & Shakers here.

Celebrate their accomplishments with a fun evening of food and drinks at the Movers & Shakers Party.

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