WINSTON-SALEM — Growing up in a military family, it was logical that Tasha Logan Ford would pursue a career in public service.
Working to make one’s community a better place was something that was impressed upon her during her father’s time in the U.S. Air Force, she recalled.
This is one of the principles Logan Ford has taken to heart as she’s risen through the ranks of her profession to her new role as incoming High Point city manager.
“He always instilled that sense of service, and I think it’s important in your role as a manager to remember the responsibility we have to always leave our communities better than we found them,” Logan Ford said. “What I would want people in the community to know about me is, my focus is to learn both the organization itself and the community and figure out how we align those services to meet the needs.”
The City Council on May 3 unanimously selected Logan Ford, currently an assistant manager for Winston-Salem, as High Point’s next top administrator. She expects to begin work July 19.
“She had a fantastic interview. I don’t think anyone there had even a second’s reserve about making her the offer,” said Councilman Michael Holmes. “Her career has been stellar. She’s well regarded in every circle that she’s ever been a part of. She hasn’t shied away from taking on some of the big things in government. She’s tackled fair housing. She’s talked about issues of policing. She’s talked about community development — all the things that I think her as the next manager will necessarily need to take on as we approach the future of High Point.”
Winston-Salem City Manager Lee Garrity hired Logan Ford in 2018 and sings her praises.
“I’ve known Tasha for 15 years through the state managers association. I always knew that she was one of the best, and three-and-a-half years ago when I found out she was considering looking to go somewhere else, I actually went and recruited her, because I knew how good she was,” Garrity said. “She’s unflappable. No matter what the crisis is, she’s calm, deliberative and super intelligent.”
Garrity said Logan Ford has been particularly effective leading the city’s community development and affordable housing efforts.
“She’s done more in three years here than we probably got done in 10 years prior to that,” he said.
Two major projects stand out.
One is the redevelopment of Boston-Thurmond, a historically Black neighborhood facing growth pressures.
“There was a lot of disagreement in the neighborhood, a lot of involvement from the business community and Wake Forest University in wanting to improve the neighborhood, but concern from the neighbors that it might turn into gentrification and might cause dislocation,” Garrity said.
“Tasha early on stepped in and worked with the neighborhood, with the elected officials, with the university and others.”
They brought in Purpose Built Communities, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps struggling neighborhoods tackle systemic issues such as intergenerational poverty, high crime and failing schools, Logan Ford said.
“The whole approach is driven by the residents of that neighborhood,” she said. “They help the community think through their vision and priorities.”
One of the major goals of the network, she said, is to craft a plan to rehabilitate and redevelop housing in a way so that the people who live in the neighborhood aren’t priced out.
Garrity said, “She turned it from a very contentious, negative environment to where, I think 90% of the time, everybody is on board, which is a huge accomplishment.”
She’s also credited with leading the Choice Neighborhoods project, which includes a $30 million federal grant to redevelop the Cleveland Avenue Homes public housing complex.
Garrity said the grant will help leverage close to $200 million in private and city investment to transform the area, which is “probably the worst in the whole city,” in terms of poverty and violent crime.
Logan Ford said her work on the project reflects her interests.
“Clearly, one of the things I love is community development and working with people, but I also want to make sure to allow staff to thrive and grow in their expertise,” Logan Ford said.
Holmes said the council was also impressed with Logan Ford’s background working with the Winston-Salem Police Department.
Diversity, equity and inclusion strategies for High Point’s workforce are another priority for the council, and Garrity said that’s something Logan Ford has worked on for Winston-Salem.
“About a year ago, she came to me and said, ‘We need to move the needle here,’ ” Garrity said. “She’s very committed to that and also is able to lead that in a way that’s not threatening. It’s a rational approach that gets a lot of buy-in.”
Downtown development is another priority of the council’s. Logan Ford said she had a lot of experience with this in Goldsboro, where she started her career as an assistant manager, helping that city develop a downtown master plan and win a federal streetscape grant.
Garrity said her selection should tell people a lot.
“I think it speaks to where High Point wants to go as a community to pick her,” Garrity said. “She is a gem.”
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