Our first Rural Trailblazer is Amanda Mack.

When sitting down with Amanda you will see that her charm and cheer are matched equally by her knowledge and passion. Challenging herself and making sure that her skills are being utilized for betterment are her number one goals.

Amanda currently resides as the City Manager of Watertown, South Dakota. However, she began her work-life pounding pavements in a humbler fashion.

From starting her career in the Organizer role for Dakota Rural Action to dabbling in politics for the Obama campaign, she has put in the leg work striving to make a better tomorrow for rural America.

Unsure how to hone her skills to create the greatest impact, a phone call from a friend came with a job opportunity in City Management. Having no real idea what that entailed, she went in with her ever-positive “Can Do!” attitude, loving each curveball and new goal thrown her way. She’d found her niche.

Amanda has climbed the rural ladder in her role as City Manager, bearing the title in Worthing, SD, Canton, SD, and Spencer, IA before taking on the title in her “feels like home” rural paradise of Watertown, SD.

Amanda is driven by challenge and the desire to help, which is apparent in the heavy workload she happily took on with her current position. However, those aren’t the only reasons Watertown was a special choice for this rural native. Her husband grew up only 7 miles away from her new hitching post. His family farm he now works with his brother is now a wholesome next-generation story of its own.

Besides family being only a short gravel-travel ways away, her drive is of personal and professional expansion as well.

“I loved the idea of being the first city manager in a community. I knew it would be different at times, and a lot of work, but I knew it would stretch me professionally and I knew I wanted to be challenged in that way. I also want to work with people who feel that same tug to grow and stretch and be better today than they were yesterday.

One of my newest favorite quotes is “I reserve the right to be smarter today than I was yesterday” and I LOVE that because it is giving us permission to grow and learn.”

Growth and learning reserve the right for us to refocus and reshape our goals throughout the course of our life. Mack has had to pivot multiple times and is grateful for each turn. “I was convinced when I was in high school that I was going to be a lawyer…the best prosecutor the world has ever seen. (I may have watched too many Law and Order episodes!) As I made my way through college, I realized that yes, I would make an excellent lawyer, but not an excellent law student. So, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated, but I had always had interest in politics. I lucked into a job on a campaign and was hooked.” After starting a family and realizing that campaign life wasn’t going to be manageable anymore, she pivoted yet again. “I consulted on campaigns, had a few office jobs, but nothing was terribly fulfilling. Then I literally fell into City Management and haven’t looked back. I’m sure my course will continue to meander throughout the remainder of my life, but I’m much more comfortable with that now than I was twenty years ago. We have to be flexible and pivot when necessary.”