The time had come. Everyone in the room donned their Elton John-style glasses.
Then-Deputy City Manager Deborah Hamlyn walked into the room of 200 people, looked around and started to laugh.
“She totally lost it,” former City Manager Joyce Wilson remembered fondly of Hamlyn’s 2012 retirement reception, which she coordinated with Hamlyn’s sister, Gloria Lavis.
Hamlyn’s friends not only value her flair for dressing and signature rhinestone glasses, but her flair for getting things done – whether it be helping push through a $473 million quality of life bond issue, to her helping raise millions to rebuild the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.
“She has a tremendous resumé,” former CASFV director Stephanie Karr said.
“As the first woman department head and deputy city manager, she survived working for a number of mayors. She certainly had a huge impact there. I equally, if not more so, admire and respect all her community work.”
Besides serving as president of CASFV, her work includes serving on the boards of The Hospitals of Providence East Campus, Temple Mount Sinai, Executive Forum, El Paso Humane Society and El Paso Pro Musica.
Hamlyn modestly thanks her parents, Milton and Pauline Goldman, for giving her opportunities, core values and an appreciation of the arts – and for modeling community service.
“Because of that, I’ve always loved being involved or helping people. They taught me that when things get rough, you have to stick with it. If you start something, you have to finish it.”
After Wilson named her as her deputy in 2005, Hamlyn and her staff started a needs assessment.
“We realized pretty quickly that none of these departments (arts, parks and recreation, museums, libraries, zoo) had gotten any improvements.”
Hamlyn credits Wilson for convincing City Council to approve putting the bond on the ballot.
Everyone was shocked when it passed by nearly 70 percent.
“That was validation for years of work – validation that my team had succeeded with a mammoth project that would change the face of the city,” Hamlyn said.
Hamlyn wouldn’t change a thing.
“Public service is great. Everyone should have to do it. You can change people’s lives in a positive way.”