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The City Managers Department last week handed top honors to members from Monrovia, Watsonville and Mission Viejo for their contributions to the city management profession.

Lauren Vasquez, Monrovia assistant city manager, received the Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities. She helped enact over 40 programs and policies aimed at boosting diversity, equity and inclusion within the city.

Fellow City Manager Dylan Feik drew attention to her work removing implicit bias from the city’s hiring processes. Using voluntary demographic information, the city now actively looks for and reduces “bottlenecks” that stop qualified candidates from advancing. Feik’s work already moved the needle in one department: The number of women in the police force doubled in two years.

Tamara Vides, an assistant city manager for Watsonville, received the John H. Hail Memorial Work for her contributions to the field. She mobilized the city’s emergency operations last year when an underpredicted winter storm sent water gushing out of Corralitos Creek. At the time, most city staff were away for the holidays.

Vides also secured transportation, shelter and food for affected residents. She later oversaw cleanup efforts, coordinated additional emergency responses and even drove several hours to buy thousands of sandbags. Rene Mendez — who nominated Vides — said her “tireless” and “hands-on approach” demonstrated a genuine commitment to the city and public service as a whole.

Dennis Wilberg, Mission Viejo city manager, received the Wes McClure Award for his decades-long dedication to mentoring others. Wilberg has served as an advisor for city managers throughout the state and is the longest-tenured city manager in Orange County. He has mentored future city managers through a university fellowship program, as well as regional and international organizations.

Wilberg also worked with other city officials to create the second-largest animal shelter in Orange County, build an advanced water treatment facility and increase public safety. He has had leadership roles with Cal Cities and the Orange County Council of Governments.

By Brian Hendershot, Cal Cities Advocate managing editor

For more information about department awards, contact Meghan McKelvey, department and member services senior manager