A rising star in city government

Wright State MPA graduate Amber Holloway was recently appointed city manager of West Carrollton

Amber Holloway, a graduate of Wright State’s Master of Public Administration program, was recently appointed city manager of West Carrollton.

When Amber Holloway enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at Wright State University, she envisioned becoming a city manager. The Sidney native was on a fast track in city government.

Already a city planner for Vandalia, she was promoted to assistant city manager during her second year as a graduate student at Wright State. Holloway says the position, which she served for almost six years, provided her with essential experience.

“The role was built for economic development, but I was interested in other areas like budgeting and collective bargaining,” she said. “Our city manager got me involved and at the table for many discussions. Vandalia is a smaller municipality, so I learned a lot about various operations.”

Holloway, a 2019 Wright State MPA graduate, managed planning, communications and information technology in addition to the economic and development function. She also secured more than $1.5 million in grant funds to support business attraction and expansion and served as a project manager on the rewrite of the city’s planning and zoning code, comprehensive plan and rebranding project.

Thanks to her breadth of experience, Holloway was appointed city manager of West Carrollton in December.

“My goal was to be a city manager by the time I turned 40, but I had no idea it would happen this quickly,” she said. “I am always ready to tackle process improvement and look forward to learning how we do things in West Carrollton.”

Holloway is particularly excited about the city’s multimillion-dollar River District Project, which includes both public and private development. Public development includes the Whitewater Park featuring kayaking, river surfing and additional recreational activities. Private development is targeted for dining and retail establishments, residential options, a hotel and a medical office, making the River District development an attractive destination for residents of Miami Valley and beyond.

“We are currently in the design phase and hope to break ground on certain key infrastructure improvements in 2024. This is a priority project for the West Carrollton community,” Holloway said. “A ton of groundwork has already been done and the city has done a good job of paving the way for this development.”

Holloway looks forward to championing this development, which was one of the primary reasons the city manager role intrigued her. She points out the hard work ethic shown by West Carrollton leadership and residents while seeing parallels with the community she recently departed. Vandalia, a community of 15,000 residents, and West Carrollton, home to 13,000 people, are similar in population.

“When I was in Vandalia, I had the opportunity to build a lot of groundwork for community development projects. We are on the cusp in West Carrollton,” she said. “The planning has been done and we are preparing to move forward.”

Holloway said her experience in Vandalia and Wright State’s MPA program prepared her for this step.

Daniel Warshawsky, Ph.D., associate professor of geography and director of the MPA program, remembers Holloway as an outstanding student.

“Amber was thoughtful, diligent and achieved great success in the classroom. In a short amount of time since graduation, Amber’s career has taken off as she has moved into important leadership positions,” Warshawsky said. “Amber has been a consistent supporter of our MPA program as she frequently volunteers as a guest speaker in our classes.”

Holloway, who will become a member of Wright State’s MPA Advisory Board in 2024, said involvement with her alma mater is a way of giving back to Warshawsky and others who were supportive during her time as a student.

“It was a great opportunity to learn from professors and adjunct professors who had real-world experience in the field. I respected how they broke things down for me,” she said. “I was working in the field myself, so I was in a position to apply things that were taught in class.”

She also expressed gratitude for faculty who were understanding of students who were balancing their education with other responsibilities.

“I received a great education at Wright State,” Holloway said. “The university is affordable and offers a great deal of value. I would not be in the position I am in today if it had not been for Wright State.”

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