Kim Payne is one of our ETA managers now, but in 1997, he was the County Administrator of Spotsylvania and I was a junior in high school tasked with interviewing a public official about what they do. He doesn’t remember the interview and I’ve since lost the paper, but I recall talking with him in his office about the rewards of working in and for local government. It’s where you have the opportunity to make the biggest impact improving communities and changing lives. It’s schools, police, the streets you drive on and the water that comes out of your faucet. I knew early on that serving communities was both a calling and a passion that I held dear. After a stint at a little-known place called Virginia Tech, I had served Blacksburg as an intern (for none other than Darren Coffey) and then as Blacksburg’s transportation planner. I went on to Harrisonburg and eventually became the Assistant Public Works Director before taking the Berkley plunge full-time in 2014.
In the late-2000s, Darren and I began exploring the possibilities of “what if?” What if there was a consulting firm that focused exclusively on making local government better. What if there was a consulting firm that didn’t act like a consulting firm but rather understood local government because we’d walked in those shoes and been in the trenches as well? What if there was a consultant that was a trusted confidant and colleague to rely on? Our mission has always been to make local government stronger and more efficient, but we truly want to do this through partnerships with departments, agencies and localities. This culture of partnership is something Darren and I have worked hard to cultivate with our clients. Above all else, we are invested in the success of our clients!
It has been an exciting experience watching The Berkley Group grow as the years have gone by. With a core staff of 10 and executive team with 10 (or is it 11 now?), we are no longer the garage band that we started out as. But we haven’t lost sight of where we came from and the people who helped us out to where we are. Darren and I have worked hard to surround ourselves with amazing talent and the growth of The Berkley Group is as much their success as it is ours.
We continue looking to the future and growing as a 360-degree local government company, that remains versatile to the ever-changing needs of localities and its citizens. Looking back, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in eight years and can only imagine what’s in store for the future!