Chatham@Work | Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Chatham County Manager's Office

Posted 6/14/19

About Stephanie Watkins-Cruz: A native of North Carolina, Watkins-Cruz currently works as a Policy Analyst in the Chatham County Manager’s Office. A graduate of UNC Asheville, along with a dual …

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Chatham@Work | Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Chatham County Manager's Office

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About Stephanie Watkins-Cruz: A native of North Carolina, Watkins-Cruz currently works as a Policy Analyst in the Chatham County Manager’s Office. A graduate of UNC Asheville, along with a dual masters from UNC-Chapel Hill, Watkins-Curz has been with Chatham County for a year. “I have both internal and community clients so I don’t just get to work with departments but with community members and groups too,” she said. Watkins-Cruz’s parents live in Charlotte and she has a pug named Luna.

What advice would you give someone considering doing the same line of work as you?

Three things. First, make sure you always practice good listening. Second, don’t think you’ll be able to avoid conflict or confrontation. Third, think of who you are serving and who your work impacts, ALWAYS. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, or how much you bring with you from school, listening is going to teach you a lot more and even though it might be uncomfortable sometimes, it’s worth it. Lean into conflict if you see a productive route through it, don’t be afraid, but listen first and go from there. With both listening and working through conflict, remember who you are serving and how your decisions could impact them.

Who is your personal hero?

My mom

Your standard order at a coffee shop?

Red-Eye, or Hazelnut Latte

Your ultimate “happy place?”

Traveling/swimming somewhere beautiful.

When will robots take over the world?

People keep mentioning how 2050 is gonna be a scary year in general, so I’ll also add that to the list to things that will be crazy stressful in 2050.

Does the early bird really get the worm?

Not sure, I keep trying to wake up early and have yet to find any worms.

Least favorite saying, and why you don’t like it:

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” because even if it isn’t broken it can be improved!

Dogs or cats?


What habit would you most like to break?

The inability to consistently wake up early on purpose.

What’s the best use of a snow day?

Eating chili, drinking hot chocolate and watching a movie or sleeping.

What’s the most amazing thing about you that most people wouldn’t have guessed?

Despite my extreme extroverted tendencies, I’m incredibly awkward.

What is the most significant of your life’s goals that you haven’t yet accomplished?

Buying my parents a home.

Who was the best teacher (in school or at work) you ever had, and why?

In college, my professor Dr. Dolly Jenkins-Mullen. She changed my life forever through her classes and her mentorship. It was in her class I discovered I was really passionate about policies surrounding social welfare, housing, homelessness, and addressing community needs. She helped me find a way to process personal experience with housing instability into both an academic and professional passion for helping others.

If money weren’t an object, but you still had to work, what would your job be?

Very similar to what I do now. Would love to run a community development finance organization that helps fund community development projects that range from affordable housing, to community capacity building, or infrastructure improvements.

Your strongest childhood ambition was:

Becoming a ballerina/attorney.

One food you’ll never be caught eating:


The most famous person you’ve ever met:

General Colin Powell

The best advice you ever got was:

“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything,” and “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

If you had lots of money to give away, you’d give most of it to:

My parents and the wonderful folks at Great Lakes Borrowing for my student loans.

Is there a hobby you can’t live without?


Favorite season?


Favorite dessert?


What advice would you give your younger self?

Girl, just relax. You are capable, you are worthy. You and everyone else are constantly figuring it out.

What’s the most important thing your job has taught you?

Working together is one of the best ways to move forward.


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