Early impression and big challenges
Through her career in human services, Conley said she came to know the inner workings of state and county government like the back of her hand. As a commissioner, however, she has a broader view of how issues interconnect and how the county is trying to address them.
“We are operating a $2.4 billion budget," Conley said, adding it still feels surprising that an initiative costing millions of dollars and affecting thousands of residents might be represented as a single bullet on an agenda.
For Conley, the county's greatest strengths exist within its size and dedicated workforce.
“We have a far reach into communities. We have the opportunity to really create substantial change in a lot of different areas, a lot of different lines of business," Conley said, adding that she is proud of the new disparity reduction work being implemented countywide.
She said there is more work to do, however.
“We're facing some of the greatest disparities in the state of Minnesota… Minnesota ranks at the bottom in terms of best places for people of color to live," Conley said. Working to reduce those disparities is one of Hennepin County's greatest challenges. That work will take all staff and commissioners to be successful.
Conley said she wants staff to know the work they do makes a difference.
“We're making an impact in people's lives. We are often in a position where we can change people's lives for the better," Conley said. “It's a rewarding experience and we should feel privileged and humbled that we have the opportunity to be in a position to change people's lives for the better."