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Public Works director settles into new role

Dan Ballard takes over as new Public Works director after 21 years with the City.

Dan Ballard’s foray into public service began in 2000 when he joined the Auburn Fire Department’s student firefighter program. A teen from the Atlanta area, the program gave Dan a way to pay for college while instilling a desire to give back to his community.

Twenty-three years later, that drive to serve Auburn’s residents is still front-of-mind for Dan, the City’s new Public Works director.

Dan took over as Public Works director in October 2022, filling a vacancy left by former director Tim Woody’s retirement. Previously the department’s Landscape and Sustainability Division manager, Dan took over as interim director in February 2022.

After graduating from Auburn University in 2004 with a degree in zoology, Dan and his wife, Amy, moved back to the Atlanta area where Dan worked with a private environmental consulting firm. He worked across the Southeast on everything from erosion and sediment control to stream restoration and forestry management.

Two years into his career, the newly formed Watershed Division within the City of Auburn’s Water Resource Management Department was looking for a coordinator, requiring many of the skills Dan had been honing with the consulting firm. Dan interviewed, and he and his wife came back to the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

During his first years back with the City, Dan juggled raising a young family and pursuing a Master of Landscape Architecture. He graduated from Auburn University a second time in 2011 and received his license in 2014.

Dan continued to advance with the City of Auburn and was promoted to Watershed Division manager in 2012. Over the next six years, he played a key role in projects like the Toomer’s Corner Intersection Improvements Project and improvements to the Gay Street Parking Lot. Pulling from his master’s degree, Dan helped design green infrastructure elements that improved the flow of runoff and helped control flooding in the downtown area — all while improving the look and feel of Auburn’s most iconic landmark and one of its most highly trafficked areas.

In 2018, Dan made the move to the Public Works Department as the Landscape and Sustainability Division manager, giving him an opportunity to use his skills as a landscape architect. He designed new sidewalks, sidewalk extensions and planned out the landscaping at City facilities, incorporating native plants where possible to help reduce overall cost, maintenance and water demand.

One of his favorite projects over the years has been Boykin Veggie Trails, a raised-bed community garden at the Boykin Community Center that serves as a teaching and food resource for daycare and senior center tenants at the facility.

“I love these small projects that have a big impact,” Dan said. “Sometimes it’s the low-budget projects that will make a world of difference for a citizen.”

Now, as Public Works director, Dan is looking for more ways to help improve the way his department serves Auburn’s residents. Moving forward, one of his main goals is to be more proactive in preventative maintenance of the City’s infrastructure. That includes maintaining the City’s generators, storm-sewer system and, of course, roadways.

“Roadway maintenance is top of our list,” Dan said, adding that the department’s purpose is to help extend the life of Auburn’s streets. Through pothole repairs, crack sealing and base repair, Public Works keeps roads up to par before they reach the point of needing to be fully resurfaced.

Dan said he most enjoys the variety of each day. After 17 consecutive years (and 21 total) with the City, Auburn’s quality of life and level of service are what have kept him around.

“I fell in love with Auburn; I fell in love with the model,” Dan said. “The City has always said that the citizen comes first. You will do a good job because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s what our citizens demand and deserve.”

“I love the mission, and I love the people who do it.”

You can reach Dan at or 334-501-3000.