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Environmental Services Strategic Planning 2018-2025

Environmental Services Strategic Plan 2018-2025


In 2013, Environmental Services became a new department and implemented its first strategic plan.  The 2013-2018 Strategic Plan was developed in the Director’s office with the goal of communicating the Director’s vision for Environmental Services staff.  In 2017, the Director identified twelve representatives representing each division to develop the 2018-2025 Strategic Plan.  This team completed extensive research, listened to feedback from stakeholders and employees, and worked collaboratively to develop the plan and set the direction for our department.


The Strategic Planning Team is available as a resource to answer your questions, and they will be looking to you for your valuable input throughout the implementation.  If you have any questions or would like to provide any feedback, please contact any of the representatives on the Strategic Planning Team or send an email to



Strategic Planning Team


Alan Aplin, Business Operations, (253) 404-6928    

Kurt Fremont, Business Operations, (253) 502-2238

Mike Carey, Office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability, (253) 404-6989

Norm Cook, Operations and Maintenance, (253) 404-6983

Chris Johnson, Operations and Maintenance, (253) 502-2164

Mark Lewis, Operations and Maintenance, (253) 502-2169

Karen Bartlett, Science and Engineering, (253) 502-2257

Shauna Hansen, Science and Engineering, (253) 502-2284

Joe Breer, Solid Waste Management, (253) 594-7816

Josh Knouff, Solid Waste Management, (253) 593-7739

Jessica Knickerbocker, Co-Lead, Science and Engineering, (253) 502-2119

Shane Pettit, Co-Lead, Solid Waste Management, (253) 593-7743



Introduction from Your Strategic Planning Team

This Environmental Services Strategic Plan will serve as our agenda and guide decisions for our department through 2025.  We believe that every employee, working together each day on the common direction established in this plan, can help further our efforts to support healthy neighborhoods and a thriving Puget Sound in our great Tacoma community.


Throughout the development of the strategic plan, we strived to be transparent through open communication and involving hundreds of employees and many stakeholders.  Due to the extensive cross-divisional participation, this is truly a department-wide plan that belongs to all of us.  It also aligns us with the goals of Tacoma’s strategic plan – Tacoma 2025 – as well as the Equity & Empowerment Framework of the City.


During the planning process, we utilized concepts from Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle – the idea that truly inspiring organizations first define “WHY” they exist before describing “WHAT” services they provide.  In this plan, you will find a WHY statement which describes our purpose, HOW statements that demonstrate how we will uniquely fulfill our WHY statement, and WHAT statements that outline what we plan to accomplish.


Moving forward we are dedicated to continuing our efforts toward transparency and open communication with meaningful contributions from all levels of the organization.  We are excited to work together as a department to implement this plan as we support healthy neighborhoods and a thriving Puget Sound, leaving a better Tacoma for all.


Think Big!   


Goals for the 2017 Planning Efforts

What does success look like?  What are the end goals?

  • Open and transparent
  • Support Tacoma 2025 and the Environmental Action Plan
  • Equity Lens
  • Stakeholder outreach
  • Bottom up approach through the department representatives
  • Goals and strategies will be:
  • The plan will serve as our agenda and guide decisions
  • "Think big" and push the envelope

Planning Process


Planning process - updated


Research Phase

The team started by researching industry trends that other cities and utilities are anticipating across the country.  From this, the team prioritized major influences that the department will face in the future, such as advancements in technology, environmental challenges, changing customer expectations, and changes in our workforce.


The City's 2025 Strategic Plan, the Environmental Action Plan, and the Equity & Empowerment Framework were also evaluated to ensure Environmental Services is in alignment with and supports these efforts.


Lastly, the team reviewed customer surveys, employee surveys, the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, and supporting division implementation plans.


Research Phase Resources


Environmental Services Strategic Plan 2013-2018

Tacoma 2025

Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey Results - March 2017

Environmental Action Plan

April 26, 2017 Retreat Summary

Industry Trend Cards - Big Sort

Tacoma 2025 Overview

Tacoma 2025 Goals Prioritized with Council Direction


Outreach Phase

Outreach began at the Public Works Week barbeque where the team started with WHY.  Over 250 people were asked “Why does Environmental Services exist?”  This information was put into a word cloud that clearly demonstrates our department’s commitment to serving Tacoma and protecting our environment.


The next step was to dig deeper through conversations with employees about our purpose, our future, and our priorities.  To accomplish this, the team hosted employee workshops with over 200 participants and conducted an employee survey that gathered contributions from over 300 of our co-workers.  


Why does Environmental Services exist?

Why does ES exist?

Why does ES exist?


Why do you work for Environmental Services?

Why do you work for ES?


Stakeholder outreach was completed to provide a clearer understanding of the future vision for Tacoma’s environment, discuss our department strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities to collaborate and better serve our customers.  The team interviewed other City department directors and leadership teams, as well as key stakeholders such as Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Sustainable Tacoma Commission, Neighborhood Councils, and the City Council.


The Environmental Services Commission was a valuable resource to the Strategic Planning efforts.  Through two workshops they provided guidance and were an important connection to our external customers.  Their insight was captured in this SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).


One of the biggest takeaways from the stakeholder outreach was the overwhelming belief that the Environmental Services Department is all things environmental, not just the Solid Waste, Surface Water, and Wastewater Utilities.  This belief and many other insights or concerns voiced by stakeholders are incorporated throughout the plan. 


Stakeholder Interviews


City Manager's Office

Community & Economic Development


Human Resources

Information Technology

Neighborhood & Community Services

Office of Equity and Human Rights

Office of Management and Budget

Planning & Development Services

Public Works

Tacoma Pierce County Health Department

Tacoma School District

Tacoma Water


Outreach Phase Resources


June 1, 2017 Environmental Services Commission Workshop 

June 21, 2017 Retreat Summary

June 23, 2017 Manager's Workshop Summary

Neighborhood Council Meetings


Development Phase


During the development of this plan, approximately 120 priorities were identified through the research and outreach efforts.  These priorities were then distilled down into nine focus areas.  An invitation was extended to the entire department to participate in focus groups and over 100 employees and stakeholders stepped forward to help shape the future of the department.  These focus groups helped to further develop the WHAT statements and the initiatives that will support them.   


Development Phase Research


August 21, 2017 Retreat Summary 

August 31, 2017 Manager's Workshop Summary

September 6, 2017 Environmental Services Commission Workshop

September 9, 2017 Study Session Update

Focus Group Meetings-Customers

Focus Group Meetings - Employees

Focus Group Meetings-Operations 


Plan Phase


Start with WHY:  


We believe everything we do supports

healthy neighborhoods and a thriving Puget Sound,

leaving a better Tacoma for all


Healthy Neighborhoods + Thriving Puget Sound = A Better Tacoma 


This WHY statement defines our contribution: "healthy neighborhoods and a thriving Puget Sound", and the impact we want to have: "a better Tacoma for all".


How we achieve our WHY:


These three statements represent the core values of the Environmental Services Department and our clear focus on: Customers, Employees and Operations.


Customers:  Partner with our community on customer-values services to meet the diverse needs of our neighborhoods.


Employees:  Foster a safe culture built on trust, conversation and equity.


Operations:  Operate using best practices to meet changing environmental and community needs.


Plan Phase Research


September 29, 2017 Retreat Summary

November 2, 2017 Environmental Services Commission Workshop

November 9, 2017 Manager's Workshop Summary

2018-2025 Strategic Plan

Appendix with Full List of Initiatives 


What Is Next?


The WHY, HOW, and WHAT statements in the Environmental Services Strategic Plan will serve as our agenda and guide decisions for our department through 2025.  The first step in getting to a better Tacoma is to identify an Implementation Team.   


A cross-divisional, staff-led team with broad representation shall be appointed by the Director to ensure implementation of this Strategic Plan.  Based on manager and employee feedback, it is essential that the implementation is developed as an entire department.  This approach will allow for a clear and unified focus of our efforts while enhancing communication across the department. 


For questions or additional information, contact a member of the Strategic Planning Team or email ThinkBig@cityoftacoma.org.

Environmental Services Strategic Plan 2018-2025 


Final Strategic Plan


Appendix with Full List of Initiatives