City Manager Says Farewell
Kelli, the first woman to take over as City Manager for Columbia Heights, stepped into the role on Jan 2, 2019, replacing Walter Fehst, who retired Dec 31, 2018, after 22 years in the position.
In her first year as City Manager, Kelli helped secure the approval of the new city hall and has overseen planning and development of that facility, which is set to open just six weeks after her last day. Kelli guided the City through the 2020-2021 Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent civil unrest and worked closely with emergency management officials to help navigate Columbia Heights through those tumultuous years. At the same time, she also oversaw the City’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2021 and worked with staff to significantly expand the City’s events and community engagement efforts. In 2016, prior to becoming City manager, Kelli was highly involved in the City's successful campaign to be named an All-America City by the National Civic League.
"I love Columbia Heights," Kelli said. "Our staff represent the most professional, dedicated and caring group of people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. The community itself is vibrant, engaged, and has definitely embraced with openness the incredible positive changes our City has experienced and will continue to experience. By every measure, Columbia Heights is on an upward trajectory and ready to soar into the future. I will miss being a part of that journey, but I do take great pride in being a part of the movement that brought us to today. Heights will always have a huge place in my heart and I’m cheering for all of the good things coming to this City."
The opportunity to live and work in Bristol, TN, appealed to Kelli for many reasons.
"My husband and I have had a short list of cities we would consider moving to due to a variety of factors," Kelli said. "Bristol was on that list because of its weather (I’m ready to get away from Minnesota winters), the proximity to the mountains and other natural amenities, its history, and local culture."
Kelli has been with Columbia Heights since 2014. Prior to taking over the City manager position, Kelli was human resources director and assistant City manager. Previously, she was a community development director, assistant city administrator, and city planner for the City of Becker, and senior planner for the South Eastern Council of Governments. Her career in local government has spanned 27 years. Her last official day with Columbia Heights is April 13. At the April 10 City Council meeting, the mayor read a proclamation declaring April 13, 2023, Kelli Bourgeois Day in Columbia Heights.
Public Works Director Kevin Hansen has been appointed by the City Council to take over as interim City manager after Kelli's departure.