The City of Johnson City announced that Community Relations Director Becky Buchanan will retire Jan. 3. Buchanan has served the City for 36 years, the last 18 of which have been at the helm of the Community Relations Department.
“Becky has been one of our most dedicated and visible employees for more than three decades,” said City Manager Pete Peterson. “The knowledge and experience that comes with that kind of tenure is invaluable.”
With a degree from East Tennessee State University in Art and Education, Buchanan joined the City’s Parks and Recreation Department in 1981 as cultural arts director. She was promoted to operations manager in 1988 and assistant Parks and Recreation director in 1995. She assumed her current role in November 1999. Through both departments and in all roles, Buchanan has done a little bit of everything with the City.
“I’ve made popcorn at every concession stand in town. I’ve played with and mentored children on playgrounds. I’ve laid sod at Winged Deer Park. I’ve had fun and I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’ve cried ‘til I laughed,” she said.
Buchanan is well-known outside of municipal government for her community involvement as well. She has served on countless boards and committees including the VA Mountain Home Museum Board, Sister Cities International, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. In 2011, as campaign chairwoman for United Way of Washington County, she led the non-profit to exceed its $1.8 million campaign goal.
“Whether in an official capacity for the City or as a volunteer, helping others has always been what I take the greatest pride in,” she said. “It’s been an honor to serve our citizens all these years, and I plan to stay active in volunteer roles moving forward.”
Buchanan also plans to travel with her 91-year-old father, who also just retired from the finance business in Morristown.
“He really is an inspiration, working up until just a week ago. He loves to travel, we hike together … if I can stay half as active as him, retirement will be a lot of fun,” Buchanan said.
Looking back on her career, Buchanan counts opening Princeton Arts Center in 1986 as one of her proudest moments.
“At the time, we did not have dedicated fine arts programming so that was really a significant accomplishment for our City,” she said. “Of course, the ability to create and develop new programs and initiatives for departments across the board has been the most enjoyable and rewarding part of my career.”
“Becky’s boundless energy will be missed throughout our organization,” Peterson said. “I thank her for her service and wish her the very best as she starts a new chapter.”
Keisha Shoun, who has worked under Buchanan for more than 10 years, has been named interim director of Community Relations. JT McSpadden, who spent a decade with the Johnson City Power Board’s public relations team, has also joined the office.