A city leader looks to the future

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By Heather Ruppe

Walterboro’s latest leader is helping to showcase the city’s natural beauty while balancing incoming growth.

Ryan R. McLeod is the assistant city manager for the City of Walterboro. In this role, he says he is faced with the challenge of balancing growth with the city’s existing charm and natural beauty. “We have a great downtown area; however, most would agree it is underutilized and in need of revitalization. We are working with Main Street South Carolina and will lean on their resources and technical support,” he said. “We are excited for the future of Walterboro and will continue to lean on capital projects to continue to grow the rich character the City of Walterboro has to offer.”

Before taking on this higher level of leadership, Ryan was the parks director for the city: he served in the parks manager role since 2018.

“When you decide to pursue a position within local government … there must be an inherit desire to serve,” he said. “Having worked in local government, in some capacity for nearly 15 years, I understand opportunities for advancement within a strong organization do not come along often. I decided to apply and give myself a chance to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Ryan has a criminal justice degree, which he earned in 2005 from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. He is still continuing his education by seeking a Master of Business Administration degree, with a Public Administration focus.

His migration into a leader for Walterboro began in 2019, when Ryan listened to some advice from a friend of his.

“Our city manager, Jeff Molinari, recommended that I apply to the Local Government Leadership Institute (LGLI). The goal of this program is to provide skill-building educational experience for new and potential executive-level managers in South Carolina local governments,” he said.

According to him, the LGLI consisted of six sessions. Ryan was one of 30 people who took the course. “I credit LGLI as the most influential experience that led to my desire to serve within local government,” he said.

Originally from Maine, Ryan said he and his wife decided to “pack up and head south” in 2007.

“We didn’t know what awaited us, but we had visited the Charleston area, the historic nature of the area and being coastal offered us some comfort due to similarities to Portland, Maine,” he said. Even though he and his family live in Charleston, Ryan says his love for Walterboro is very strong.

“I have worked for the City of Walterboro for nearly four years. During this time, I have come to truly appreciate how gracious the community is,” he said. “When I was hired as the parks’ director, I was astonished with how genuine and welcoming everybody was.”

As the city’s assistant city manager, Ryan also serves as the city’s Planning and Zoning Administrator. He also manages the city’s permitting staff, and helps to oversee project management, residential and commercial plans, and business development.

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