The City of Bristol, Tennessee has officially chosen its next city manager. At a special called meeting on Tuesday, February 28, City Council approved the terms of an employment agreement with Kelli Bourgeois of Elk River, Minn. Bourgeois’ selection comes as the result of a search process that began in September 2022 upon the announcement by current City Manager Bill Sorah of his plans to retire following a career spanning more than four decades in public service. The national search for his successor netted an initial field of more than 50 applicants from 25 different states, which was narrowed over a series of evaluations, assessments and interviews. Ultimately, Bourgeois was selected by City Council as the unanimous choice to fill the role.
In naming Bourgeois for the position, councilmembers cited her qualifications and breadth of experience along with their confidence in her ability to quickly form positive relationships, both within the organization among city staff, as well as with external community partners.
“Almost immediately, we were impressed by Kelli’s grasp of the unique opportunities and challenges facing our community. She brings such a high caliber of experience to the table from preparing and administering complex budgets, to shepherding commercial and residential development projects, bolstering the recruitment and retention of skilled city staff, and continuously working to improve the delivery of services,” said Mayor Vince Turner. “Kelli is a proven leader who will hit the ground running as an active, engaged member of our community,” he added. “We’re excited to welcome her to Bristol.”
Bourgeois is the current city manager for the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights, where she also served as assistant city manager and human resources director. In total, she comes to Bristol with more than 25 years of diverse local government experience including roles in legal, community development and planning for a variety of municipalities and public agencies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Local and Urban Affairs from St. Cloud State University, a Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law, and is an ICMA Credentialed Manager.
Following approval of the employment agreement by City Council, which carries an effective date for Bourgeois of April 19, Sorah noted that his last day in office is scheduled for Friday, March 17. At their regular business meeting on March 7, City Council is expected to appoint an interim city manager to serve following Sorah’s departure until Bourgeois officially assumes the role.