Nelson Fialho, retired city manager and celebrated local government leader, has taken the helm of Renne Public Management Group (RPMG), a new division of Renne Public Law Group (RPLG). Nelson will lead RPMG’s Financial Management, Human Resource, Executive Search and Complex Project Management practice areas, serving California cities and counties, special districts, and non-profits in need of strategic advice and practical solutions from an interdisciplinary team of experts.
Thinking back to your first position as a management intern in Hayward, what attracted you to a career in municipal government?
My motivation for a career in local government started in high school student where I had an opportunity to participate in Youth in Government Day and observe the inner workings of my hometown of San Leandro, California. That experience motivated me to pursue a career in local government. Later, as a college intern for the City of Hayward in the City Manager’s Office in the early 1990s, I witnessed the positive, direct, and immediate impact local government leaders were having on their community. That experience further solidified my commitment to pursue a career in public service and local government.
At the time of your selection as Pleasanton’s city manager in 2004, you were the state’s youngest city manager of a full-service city. To what do you attribute this fast trajectory of success?
Professional focus and active mentorship. I have built a career based on relationships and intentionality. The relationships led to active mentors from some of the best city managers in the profession. Those relationships shaped in me a belief system that public administrators are active participants in their communities. In other words, you don’t wait around for things to happen. The best city managers are intentional and strategic with their efforts, working in partnership with their communities, organizations, and elected officials to align mutual goals and objectives. That has been my focus over the past 31 years in local government. I attribute those two characteristics to my success in City management.
What skills and perspectives do you take away from your 25 years serving Pleasanton?
My time in Pleasanton was great. I learned that most leadership and management challenges can be overcome with steady patience and honest and respectful communication. Back that up with solid teamwork and a work environment and governance structure and system that fosters and rewards innovation and creative thinking – anything is possible, truly. That’s my takeaway after my 25 years in Pleasanton.
Upon your retirement from the city management profession, what made you decide to transition to the private sector and become RPMG’s Executive Director?
The team at RPLG aligns perfectly with my commitment to public service. The firm’s focus on courageous leadership and intentional outcomes aligns with my belief system. We aim to build the best leadership and management consulting practice in the State, in partnership with Renne’s solid reputation in law and public policy advocacy. The best of best is present at RPLG, so it’s great to be affiliated with the firm in this new capacity. I’m a believer in collaborative leadership and strong and ethical management. They are too.
As a former city manager, how would you describe the benefits of partnering with a management consulting firm like RPMG?
We cater our services to client needs and we leverage our exceptional talent to achieve desired and measured results. Our team of attorneys, public policy experts, and management consultants provide a complete, in-house solution for most of the pressing needs and challenges facing local governments. Many of our experts have led complex organizations, navigated competing interests, represented clients during in groundbreaking legal cases and settlements, and trained and developed leaders on new and emerging issues facing local government. Tapping into the Renne Group of municipal services ensures our clients will receive the best services and outcomes available to local government.
What aspect of your new role do you look forward to most?
Providing our clients with strategic advice and analysis on organizational and community issues and providing practical recommendations and solutions to the challenges facing government today.
What are some of your goals for RPMG?
I’m especially looking forward to leading RPMG’s Financial Management, Human Resource, Executive Search and Complex Project Management practice areas. Our goal is to build the best team of local government professionals in the business to support our clients. Our immediate services will include:
- city manager and city attorney executive search;
- strategic planning and workplan priority-setting for organizations and governing bodies;
- new city manager/city attorney/city council onboarding;
- city manager and city attorney performance evaluations;
- facilitation and conflict resolution;
- fiscal and operational analysis;
- complex project management, including analysis and negotiations; and
- organizational assessments, including alternative service delivery options for local governments, service realignment and enhancement, and special studies.
RPLG practices throughout California, advising and advocating for public agencies, nonprofit entities, individuals and private entities in need of effective, responsive and creative legal solutions. RPLG’s lawyers provide the tools to strengthen and preserve public services, empower policy makers to further their objectives and collaborate with in-house staff to identify workable solutions to complex problems, develop strategy and implement solutions.