MAYOR HILL SOLIDIFIES LEGACY IN SOUTHLAKE
From the time she was little, Southlake Mayor Laura Hill knew she wanted an adventure. Growing up on the East Coast, living all over the United States (including Alaska!), working in different industries, getting married, raising kids, giving back to the community – it all had one thing in common: her love of connecting with people and making things better.
Everyone who’s been around Mayor Hill sees how she’s constantly engaged. Whether it’s her business at Downey Publishing, working at a Southlake City Council meeting or spending time with friends and family, her focus is always on listening and learning more.
The Mayor says it’s at the heart of her passion for Southlake. “There’s value in everyone’s voice. It’s my job to listen and find that seed. I’m really good at seeing the question and helping answer it.”
Since Hill became Mayor in May 2015, she has tackled issues with a can-do attitude that has become her trademark in Southlake. The first big issue came just a few months after she took the oath of office.
“When the City and the City Council got a lot of questions from residents about their water bills in the summer of 2015, I was determined to figure out how to answer them,” she said. “I never know what issue will grab my attention but when it happens I am focused until I get a solution and in this case, I was interested in having people understand how the City’s new water meters worked and what that meant for controlling their water bill moving forward.
Hill takes the same approach to business. Her “Meet the Mayor” gatherings started as a way for Hill to get to know more people in Southlake. Now they have turned into so much more.
“Southlake has so many amazing businesses, both big and small,” she said. “As Mayor, I think it’s important that the Council have a strong connection to our business community. These `Meet the Mayor’ gatherings not only achieve that, but they also forge connections between Southlake’s business owners and community leaders. That only makes Southlake’s business community stronger.”
There have been more than 30 Meet the Mayors since 2015. In Hill’s mind, they are an opportunity to help people be heard, exchange ideas, and maybe even start something special.
“There are so many ways to tie being a successful mayor and running a successful city to running a successful business,” Hill said. “The way to make it work is to have a great team of people to help you create a strategy and goals, listen to what people have to say, and then make a decision.”
Hill has received many honors through the years, including the Legacy of Women Award from Safe Haven, the Carroll ISD Shankman Award for service to children, and most recently the Southlake Chamber named her the 2018 Citizen of the Year. All are causes she is passionate about, but a special light comes on when you start talking about anything involving kids.
S.P.A.R.K. (Students and Parents Against Risks to our Kids), S.A.S.O. (Scholars and Athletes Serving Others) and S.K.I.L. (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership) are all Hill’s ideas. Each group has its own focus, and as with being Mayor and running her businesses, Hill says when it comes to kids it’s about giving them and their parents a seat at the table.
“I’m not afraid of controversy and the only way to handle controversy is to jump in the middle of it. With SPARK it was getting parents to talk about the things that might be going wrong behind closed doors and giving them a safe place to work through it,” she said. “I am so proud of what S.P.A.R.K. has accomplished – all we had to do was start the conversation.”
The other programs have different focuses. “S.A.S.O. gives our kids the opportunity to give to others and learn how important it is to give back. S.K.I.L. is about leadership and seeing the business world and government world close up,” she said. “They are Southlake’s future and I like to think that we are setting the stage for some amazing results.”
“I believe in Southlake, and I am dreading the day when my time as Mayor is over,” she said. “There has never been a job that has suited me so perfectly.”