Nelsie L. Birch is a strategic and proven leader focused on driving excellence in local government. She is specifically skilled in the areas of city management and operations; budget development and execution; public finance and credit analysis; and performance management. Her innovative approach to problem solving, along with her ability to translate complex issues and drive performance, has led her to many high profile positions around the Washington, DC region and beyond. In 2016/2017, Birch led the financial turnaround for the City of Petersburg, VA, under the Robert Bobb Group.
Prior to starting BIRCHbark Strategic Consulting, Birch served as the Director of Agency Operations/Chief of Staff to the City Administrator for the District of Columbia. In this capacity, she was a key advisor to the City Administrator responsible for ensuring the success in managing the day-to-day operations of District Government and implementing the strategic direction and policy decisions set forth by the Mayor. Birch worked with the Executive Office of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayors, and all District agencies to spearhead several District-wide reform efforts. Birch also provided oversight to the Office of Performance Management, the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining, the Government Operations Cluster of agencies, and a team of high performing program analysts.
Birch also held the position as the Director of Management and Budget for the City of Alexandria, VA. In addition to overseeing the development of the City’s annual operating budget and capital improvement program, she was responsible for management analysis and innovation initiatives. She ushered in a new budget philosophy to align long-term outcomes with service delivery and incorporated extensive community engagement to make the budget more responsive and transparent. Birch also was the lead architect over the first Five-Year Financial Plan that was used to inform policy leaders on the suite of decisions that needed to be made to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
Birch’s public finance acumen was developed early on in her career as she started as a credit analyst for Fitch Ratings and grew to become the lead credit analyst for Virginia, Maryland and Delaware local governments. She used this experience to become a Principal Analyst for the City of Baltimore, MD’s Director of Finance where she led the effort to earn Baltimore its first credit rating upgrade in 40 years and was the CitiStat analyst over financial operations for the City. Birch also managed a team of consultants and city and school officials to develop innovative financing and procurement options to fund the $2 billion in capital needs for school facilities. Birch then transitioned back into city management and became the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Greensboro, NC. Here she developed a performance management framework for decision-making and an economic development strategy to drive greater regional collaboration and increased participation of small businesses. Birch then returned to the private sector and used her ability to drive performance and greater operational efficiency as a Business Development Specialist for PayLock IPT, a parking innovation and technology company. In this capacity she worked with municipalities to enhance operations, customer service, and revenue collections.
Birch holds a Masters of Public Administration degree from Northern Illinois University with a concentration in Urban Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Knox College in Political Science. She is a graduate of Leadership ICMA through the International City/County Management Association and a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute through University of Virginia’s Darden Business School/Weldon Cooper Center. Ms. Birch is volunteering her time as a Senior Advisor to the Hometown Summit // Tom Tom Founders Festival in her adopted hometown of Charlottesville, VA.
Led the financial turnaround for the City of Petersburg, VA, including financially stabilizing the City, receiving a bond rating upgrade and eliminating the City’s accumulated +$7M deficit–during an 8-month period of time (2017)
Led the successful effort to make Washington, DC one of Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities (2016)
Created the Procurement Accountability Review Board for the District of Columbia (2015)
Developed the District of Columbia’s first Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Opportunity Guide for small businesses–connecting small businesses with opportunities in local government spending (2015)
Established the City of Alexandria’s first 5-Year Financial Plan, including movement towards a Stormwater Utility and a revised Debt Affordability guideline (2014)
Transformed the City of Alexandria’s budgeting process away from incremental budgeting and into performance/priority based budgeting; this included a procedural revamp that positioned the City Council to make more strategic adjustments to the City Manager’s proposed budget (2013)
Developed Park City, Utah Municipal Corporation’s Strategic Plan (2012)
Updated the City of Greensboro’s Economic Development strategy to better connect local, small and disadvantaged businesses into the City’s procurement opportunities (2011)
Created the City of Greensboro’s performance management system: MAP [Management, Accountability and Performance] (2010)
Assisted with transitioning the City of Baltimore from traditional budgeting to outcome-based budgeting (2009)
Led a team of City of Baltimore Leadership and external Consultants to identify Innovative Financing and Procurement opportunities to address the $2B+ in school and parks/recreation facility needs
Developed the City of Baltimore’s Debt Affordability Guidelines and Updated the Fund Balance Policy (2008)
Instrumental in the City of Baltimore receiving an upgrade to its General Obligation Bond rating (2007)
Guest lecturer on the bond rating process and the contribution that data and performance measures contribute to a municipality’s credit rating, University of Baltimore performance measurement class (2006 and 2007)
Analytical lead for Local Government-issued debt in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware for Fitch Ratings (2004-2006)