Wetzel brings substantial experience to City’s project director role

COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington’s new Director of Special Projects & Inter-Governmental Affairs brings a solid track record of public service to the position. Having worked as the City of Cincinnati’s Senior Project Coordinator and Assistant to the City Manager, Elizabeth Wetzel looks forward to being part of Covington’s “story.”

“Covington has a strong history and identity, yet looks to the future,” Wetzel said. “Since moving to the Cincinnati area 21 years ago, I have admired this city from across the river, particularly over the recent decade as The Cov has stood up and claimed its place as the place to be and grow. I am excited to become part of that story and help realize its bright future.”

Wetzel was hired by the Covington Board of Commissioners at the recommendation of an internal search committee that considered nearly 40 applicants.

She replaces Andrew Wilhoite, who resigned to take a job in Frankfort. Wilhoite was hired a year ago for what was then a new position designed to help on specialized complex management and policy analyses to support decision-making on projects like the 23-acre Covington Central Riverfront/former IRS site development.

Wetzel brings proven success in project management and programmatic leadership. She led the development of Cincinnati’s Engage Cincy, a program that strengthens the culture of community engagement with local government, and she helped implement the Police Body Worn Camera Program. As Venture Lab Program Manager with the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Innovation, she had a hand in the development and evolution of an early-stage start-up accelerator at the university’s 1819 Innovation Hub.

“I’ve always worked in public service, first at Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, Model Group, and 3CDC in collaboration with the regional HUD office, the Cincinnati City Manager’s Office, and most recently, the University of Cincinnati 1819 Innovative Hub,” said Wetzel. “I am continually motivated by the fact that the work we do, if done right, has a positive social impact at a systemic level.”

Covington City Manager Ken Smith said Wetzel stood out among the many talented applicants for the position.  

 “I have never interviewed as many people as we did for this opening,” Smith said. “Elizabeth impressed me and other members of the committee with her knowledge, relevant experience, and work ethic. I look forward to working with her to advance the numerous projects underway in our city. Elizabeth will be a great addition to Team Covington.”

With momentum on major projects like the Central Riverfront neighborhood and a new City Hall set to accelerate, Wetzel steps into the role at a significant time.

“I’m so fortunate to be joining the team at this time of growth and change,” said Wetzel. “Collaboration with our community and neighbors will be the key to sustainable success for all these new opportunities, and I’m looking forward to help bring all these resources together to push Covington’s priorities forward.”

Change for ‘a brighter future’

Earlier in her career, Wetzel led a resident rehousing project, working with all 209 households at Metropole Apartments to secure improved, affordable housing for all low-income residents being displaced to make way for conversion of the building to 21C Hotel. She said it was challenging work and difficult for many, but she felt the City achieved the best outcomes for every family involved.

In the earliest stage of her career, with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, Wetzel’s team conducted regulatory oversight of all project-based Section 8 housing in Southwest Ohio, ensuring provision of decent and safe affordable housing for thousands of families and seniors.

“Working together, we affect change that shapes a brighter future for the entire community we serve,” said Wetzel, whose experience in working with people on complex and challenging projects has fueled her understanding of the most salient issues necessary for a successful project.

“It has reinforced the importance of listening to the perspectives and knowledge of everyone, relying on their expertise, understanding their motivations and values, and finding and building on the commonality in otherwise divergent situations,” said Wetzel. “Everyone wants the same basic qualities in life, we just have different viewpoints dependent from where we’ve come. Even if the chosen direction cannot be everyone’s preference, openness helps everyone understand why a path is chosen to reach common goals.”

Wetzel is a graduate of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and earned her MBA from the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

When she isn’t creating and managing projects on a large scale, Wetzel enjoys home projects, being outdoors, gardening, walking, and learning home-improvement skills.

“My partner, Nick, and I like to complete home projects, having learned a bit about electric, plumbing, woodwork, tiling, painting, and landscaping, all by doing – and, admittedly, by texting my Dad photos with questions,” she said.


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