On any given day, shortly after 5 a.m. you’ll probably find Vernita Nelson along with several female friends and her trusty dog, Lola out for a jog to kickstart the day before getting her husband and children set for their day ahead. But by 9 a.m. Nelson’s focus has shifted to her second family: The City of Miami Gardens.
“It’s a real blessing to be able to work for my hometown and be part of the development, the growth and the ingenuity that is happening in Miami Gardens,” explains Nelson with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
As one of two Assistant City Managers for Miami Gardens, Nelson works side-by-side with the City Manager, Mayor and Council to make sure the City has smooth operations from day to day. It is a powerful position with many responsibilities. It is a position Nelson says she is more than proud to tackle.
“Staff and I are doing some cutting edge projects here in the City. We’re already preparing for the 2014 Jazz in the Gardens festival taking place in March. We’re also working with our Capital Improvement Department on the completion of our LEED Platinum certified Municipal Complex; the largest such structure designated as LEED Platinum in the nation. It’s an exciting time.”
Nelson’s love of the City comes with good reason. Her parents moved here in the 70’s when the area was still Unincorporated Dade County. This truly is her home. A graduate of American Senior High, Nelson left South Florida to attend and graduate from Florida A & M with a degree in Public Relations/Journalism and a minor in psychology; a good combination of skills which play a key role in her success as Assistant City Manager.
In 2003, the City hired Nelson as a contractor to work with the Parks and Recreation Department. It was a work relationship that turned into a love affair, with Nelson moving up the ranks to now play a key role in how the City evolves.
Her passion for hard work and making her City great has not gone unnoticed. Well respected and well -liked by colleagues and staff, Nelson was also recently named one of Legacy Magazine’s 25 Most Prominent and Influential Women in Business in South Florida, Nelson is not one to toot her own horn; but rather prefers to channel her energies toward constant improvement for Miami Gardens.
“Would I call myself a leader, a motivator? Yes, and definitely a role model. But I do all of this not for the titles, but for the passion I have for the City. I do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s my hometown and the residents and my family deserve the best.”
Asked what she would do next if given a magic wand that had powers to create anything at all… Nelson still broadened her dream and wishes to include everyone around her.
“If I had a magic wand for the City, I would wish that we all had pride for where we live and the utmost respect for one another and that we are not afraid to make the proper investments when necessary to move us forward. That we take pride and respect in our communities and that everyone would say, ‘I won’t cause harm to anything that doesn’t belong to me,’ and that all understand there are costs to being on the cutting edge but collectively when we work together…we can all benefit. That’s my wish.”