She's The Chief!

Ott selects Rhoda Mae Kerr

Rhoda Mae Kerr
Rhoda Mae Kerr (Credit: IAFC)

Shattering yet another glass ceiling with a fire axe, as it were, Austin's first African-American city manager will today name Rhoda Mae Kerr to be Austin’s first female Fire Chief.

"That makes three strong, powerful women I've selected in a row – our new fire chief, Sara Hensley as our new Parks Department Director, and Sue Edwards as Assistant City Manager," noted Marc Ott. "I'm very proud of those appointments." As Fire Chief in Little Rock, he said, Kerr was known not only as a strong chief but also for excellence in community engagement; one reason she won the job was that "she clearly indicated her commitment to becoming visible and engaged in Austin."

More below.

Asked about the openness of the fire chief selection process, which included substantial community involvement, the city manager said it typifies his overall commitment to greater transparency at city hall. Ott said he'd heard much appreciative feedback from community members, fire department staff, and union representatives about the opportunity to be involved. Among those he successfully encouraged to participate was former mayor Gus Garcia – who had earlier thrown burning embers Ott's way over minority inclusiveness issues.

City council is expected to approve Ott's selection. Kerr is currently chief of the 400-member Little Rock, Arkansas fire department, where she has served since 1983; she's also a fourth-generation firefighter.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Fire Department
Fire at the Sheraton Downtown (Updated)
Fire at the Sheraton Downtown (Updated)
Austin Fire Department is on the scene

Monica Riese, March 10, 2013

The Daily Hustle: 8/16/10
The Daily Hustle: 8/16/10
Ask yourself - Who's the MACC?

Wells Dunbar, Aug. 16, 2010

More City Manager
Managing Secrets
Managing Secrets
Council's search for city manager may be confidential ... or not

Michael King, April 10, 2017

Frasier Named New Police Monitor
Frasier Named New Police Monitor
The former sheriff will start work on Jan. 18

Jordan Smith, Dec. 29, 2010

More by Katherine Gregor
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Checking in on the Climate Protection Program's progress – or lack thereof

Aug. 6, 2010

Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Study predicts how climate change will affect Texas' future water needs

July 30, 2010

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Fire Department, City Manager, Mark Ott, Rhoda Mae Kerr

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle