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With more than 16 years at the City of Hawthorne, LaKesha McGruder is a mainstay in the local government.

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HAWTHORNE – LaKesha H. Hawkins-McGruder, MMC of City of Hawthorne, has earned the designation of Master Municipal Clerk (MMC), which is awarded by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC), Inc.

IIMC grants the MMC designation only to those municipal clerks who complete demanding education requirements and who have a record of significant contributions to their local government, their community and state.

 

Hawkins-McGruder currently serves as the City Clerk for the City of Hawthorne.  She has been employed with the city for 16 years, and is a lifelong resident of Hawthorne as well as a graduate of Hawthorne High School.

Hawkins-McGruder has been working on various educational and professional advancements for a number of years culminating this year in being awarded the Master Municipal Clerk Certification (MMC), which is a declaration of her proficiency in her position as the City Clerk and that she has demonstrated mastery of administrative skills critical to good government.  In 2010 she completed the Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) Certification and in 2014 she received an Associate of Arts Degree (AA) from Santa Fe College.

Hawkins-McGruder says her path has been made easier due to the helpful attitudes of fellow city clerks. “Other city clerks in the Florida Association of City Clerks have made it easy to get to this point because whenever I had a question regarding an issue, I could count on them to give me assistance,” said Hawkins-McGruder.

During her 16 years with the City of Hawthorne, she has served in every position inside City Hall from the Utility Billing Clerk to performing some of the duties of the City Manager.  She also serves as the interim Code Enforcement Officer for the city.  In 2016 she enrolled in the Florida Association of Code Enforcement, and has recently completed and passed the Level II examination.

“Right now it is working great being the interim Code Officer,” said Hawkins-McGruder. “The majority of the citizens already know me and they know I am about fairness.” She says that most of the time people are not aware that a code violation even exists, so she tries to try to educate first and explain what makes a certain issue a violation.  “A lot of the people appreciate it because they honestly just did not realize it was a violation,” she added.

But all her time isn’t spent within City Hall or tending to codes violations.  Being community minded is important to her, and for several years she volunteered as one of the assistant girls basketball coaches and the assistant volleyball coach. “Even with my busy schedule at the office, City Manager Ellen Vause allowed me the flexibility to volunteer at the local school,” said Hawkins-McGruder. “It was another way the city was giving back to our community.”

On a personal note, she recently celebrated her 22nd wedding anniversary on March 25.  She and her husband share three children, Tyris, Jailyn and JaKecia.  Because her children are older, Hawkins-McGruder says she has time after work and on her days off days to do things she loves to do, including a business she shares with her father, CA&K Photography.  “People have asked me to take pictures of their children at special events, weddings and birthday parties,” she said.

“The favorite part of my job is the flexibility and the people in our city and the surrounding communities,” said Hawkins-McGruder.  “We have a great diverse group of individuals that live in the City of Hawthorne.  The majority of them I have known all my life through school, church and sports.  It feels good to have grown up in this small community, raise my family here, and have a career here.”

But that was not always the case, as years ago she dreamed of living in a large city.  “But I’m so glad that God had a different plan for my life.  I love my city because we have unity here.  The City Commission and the City Staff are all moving in the same direction to achieve our goals.  We are all dedicated and go above and beyond for the great citizens in our beautiful city.”

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