Warren Mayor Lori Stone is in the process of building her administration.

Warren Mayor Lori Stone is in the process of building her administration.

Photo provided by the city of Warren

Mayor Stone builds her team

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published January 5, 2024


WARREN — In late December, Warren Mayor Lori Stone took questions from the Warren Weekly about her first 30 days in office and how she is laying the foundation of her new administration.

“It’s going well,” Stone said.

The mayor continued.

“The most pleasant surprise for me has been the warm reception from residents and the equally warm reception from city employees,” Stone said.

A career educator before entering politics, Stone discussed the learning curve she faces leading the third-largest city in Michigan.

“The sheer size of the community and the organization that goes to serve it,” said the mayor. “Just going from department to department learning every inch of what municipal services include is impressive to say the least.”

Stone had just returned from the Bloomberg Center for Cities Program for New Mayors: First 100 Days at Harvard, an invitation-only program for new mayors who are serving in their first 100 days. The program is held at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Kennedy School, the Harvard Business School and Bloomberg Philanthropies to support mayors and bring positive change to their communities, according to the program’s website.

“I was one of (27) newly elected mayors throughout the country invited to participate in this program,” Stone said. “His (Mike Bloomberg’s) philosophy was we’re building a team. I really embrace that. If you want to have a successful organization going forward, then you really focus on laying the foundation and the groundwork of that team.”

Stone took away several key points from the three-day training.

One involved networking with other mayors.

“When you face challenges, having the opportunity to draw from other people’s experiences, people who have already walked in these shoes, as well as people who are facing the same challenges of setting up an administration,” Stone said. “Having those resources at hand is very powerful.”

She said other key takeaways included setting priorities and surrounding herself with people who share her vision and are committed to helping her deliver it.

Stone is in the process of laying her foundation and building a team that shares her vision for the new administration. In her office, she has made two appointments at press time: Chief of Staff Kristina Lodovisi, and Community Outreach Director Rhonda Hawe. Other appointments will be announced by the Warren City Council at their next meeting on Jan. 9.

The appointment process is not over.  According to Stone, before making any changes, she said it is important to assess what is already present and what is needed.

“For me it is foolhardy to rush in and not have a clear idea of what’s already here before you start making changes,” Stone said. “Listen, learn, lead — that is my philosophy.”

To further that effort, Stone has planned a “Listening Tour.” The mayor, council members and various directors from city departments will go to each City Council district and listen to the questions, concerns and suggestions of residents, according to Warren Director of Communications Clarissa Cayton. Planned topics include public safety, parks and recreation, economic development and environmental sustainability.

The first stop on the tour will be in District 2, and the topic will be economic development. The session will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the Community Engagement Center in the Fitzgerald Public Schools Neigebaur Administration Building, located at 23020 Ryan Road.

According to Stone, her top priorities for her administration are transparency and accountability, and team building and collaboration.

“We’ve seen divisiveness in local leadership,” Stone said. “Showing up to the first council meeting and extending a hand and saying, I realize for some who are returning that they already have some preconceived notions as to what that interaction with a mayor looks like, and saying, ‘I’m committed to changing that.’”