GC Top Public Servant: Sereniah Breland
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Editor’s note: At the time of publication for the August/September edition of Golden Crescent Magazine, Sereniah Breland was Goliad City Administrator. While Breland was city administrator, she did not build Fort Fun, but she helped add improvements to the park.
Goliad City Administrator Sereniah Breland read a quote that resonated so well in her that it’s something she strives to live by.
“Public servants don’t get burned out because of what they do. It’s because we forget why we do it,” she said.
Breland has been Goliad’s city administrator for nearly two years and already the transition from bigger cities, including Denton and Sugar Land, to Goliad has taken full hold of her.
Working in a smaller city has also afforded Breland many opportunities to wear a few different hats. Aside from also filling the position as the city secretary, she stays on top of knowing what goes on in Goliad.
“City management is the best profession in the world because you can learn all of the different jobs involved with the city without having to be an expert at any of them,” she said.
Knowing what happens behind the scenes of a city has become essential as she helps plan for the future of Goliad, including details of upcoming street work, plans for building a community playground and key expenses in the city budget.
Goliad Finance Officer Larry Zermeno nominated Breland for her dedication to learning all the different facets of the position and more.
“No one outworks Sereniah, who is not above rolling up her sleeves and giving a hand,” he said. “She is currently studying wastewater treatment to better understand and improve plant operations.”
Terry Baiamonte, Goliad city attorney, also nominated Breland for her enthusiasm and readiness to help.
“She is raising the city of Goliad like it was her child, lots of love and attention, but with structure and discipline.”
Family: Boyfriend, Jeff Rood, lives in Goliad and works for TxDOT. Parents, Jay and Kaye, live in Rockwall; and brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Kelly, live in Cypress with their daughters, Emily and Addison.
What are three things on your workspace that you couldn’t do your job without?
- Photos of loved ones
When you were younger, what did you want to grow up to be?
I wanted to serve those who could not serve themselves, and local government is truly where the rubber hits the road. I began in the field of education and found great intrinsic reward in the service of teaching, but that calling also revived my love of learning as well. My father, a retired U.S. Army Chaplain, was influential to my decision to serve others with compassion. His allegiance and perseverance to the call was contagious and honorable, and allowed me to witness the value in public service. In his words, “keep on keeping on.”
Tell us about a memorable experience that you have had while working? What happened?
I have witnessed some challenging times in public service and met some interesting people, from Kinky Friedman and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., but the individuals that have lasting impressions are the ones that answer the call to selfless acts of love and the true spirit of a community is found when a community rises above its differences to serves others. Hurricane Ike came with a fury while I was serving the city of Sugar Land. When emergency events occur, and the masses evacuate, those service people with plans in place, hunker down, pray for the best, and immediately begin recovery. One of the most memorable times was working with the good people of that community to care for those in need. When a community experiences tragedy, the true essence of people is exposed and is a constant reminder to me that humanity overcomes – always. During the Ike recovery, I will never forget the pouring out of service from volunteers and was humbled by the selfless acts of neighbors.
What about your job do you enjoy the most?
This job brings the most interesting opportunities to face challenges, and brings out the most colorful personalities. The public often turns to the government for any problems that occur, and creativity is a must to foster communities that are prepared for the future. The way cities have functioned for decades before will not appease to the changing demographics of Texas, especially. In an effort to support progressive change that meets the needs of an evolving community, I mostly enjoy the good people that work beside me every day. The city of Goliad staff (my Dream Team) is my teacher. I learn from them daily, and they motivate me to become a better manager. They are also the good people that serve with great big hearts and consistently remind me that leaders are at all levels. They are what I love the most about my job.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you?
- The Bible
- Jeff Rood (he is especially handy)