International Women’s Day recognizes milestones women have achieved across the globe. Today we are highlighting City staff members making significant contributions in the Allen community and trailblazing the way for future generations of women in public service.
HAYLEY ANGEL, PLANNING MANAGER
If you've ever attended an Allen City Council meeting, you've likely seen Hayley Angel present a zoning case to councilmembers. As a Planning Manager for Community Development, Hayley oversees current development and long-range planning by working with business owners, developers and residents.
In graduate school, Hayley focused on changing neighborhoods through residents' long-term visions for their homes. Now she works to figure out how to implement those ideals in the larger Allen community.
"The change to working in current development wasn't something I anticipated," says Hayley. "I was surprised at how fulfilling it can be to see something you've influenced be constructed."
It's not uncommon for Hayley to be the only woman in the room, so she is grateful for the support she receives from within her department and other teams.
"An innocent action from a well-meaning coworker might have a different impact on me than a male coworker," says Hayley. "Being able to talk to a coworker about that honestly and compassionately has made a big difference, and I think this stems from being able to build trust with my coworkers."
Hayley prioritizes authenticity in her role as a supervisor. She strives to create a workplace where her team can be honest and forthright about what's going on at work.
"Being authentic doesn’t just bring out the best in those around you," says Hayley. “It can also help sustain you through difficult times and decisions."
LISA SCRUGGS, IT SPECIALIST
For 13 years, IT Specialist Lisa Scruggs has served in a multi-faceted role providing technical support to more than 800 City of Allen employees. She installs software and hardware, conducts PC moves, creates documentation and provides training.
“I troubleshoot all types of issues that could prevent staff from doing their jobs,” says Lisa. She credits a former supervisor for leading her into the IT field.
“She had girl power,” says Lisa. “Not to mention she was also extremely supportive and encouraging.”
As a minority and a woman in a predominantly male workforce, Lisa excelled by having confidence in her abilities and refusing to let labels define her. Lisa encourages any young woman looking to join IT to consider their skills and interests when defining their area of concentration.
“Choose to lead and be relevant in whatever area you decide to specialize, says Lisa. “Be confident in yourself and know you bring value to the table.”
MICHELLE PEEL, POLICE CORPORAL
With over 20 years of working for the Allen Police Department, Michelle Peel has served in several different assignments, including a Crimes Against Children Investigator and School Resource Officer. Now she is a Police Corporal for the Patrol Services Division.
"Over time, our role has become much more community-oriented," says Corporal Peel. "I think people would be surprised at all the things we do."
Corporal Peel says the key to a long and successful career is not taking things personally. Instead, she believes in working hard, not shying away from challenges and learning how to talk to people.
"The fact that law enforcement has always been a predominantly male profession means that there have been instances over the years where female officers have had to give extra effort to gain community members' and coworkers' trust," says Corporal Peel.
With more female officers joining the profession, Corporal Peel sees the landscape of policing changing for the better, feeling inspired by the young and new officers coming in.
"There are lots of little moments that make me proud, one example being a child abuse victim saying she wanted to grow up to be a detective because of 'Detective Peel,'" says Corporal Peel. "That one got me a little bit!"
LAURA CUELLAR, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
Laura Cuellar never considered a career in government until she got an internship with the Smithsonian. This led to a career as a landscape architect, where she realized she had a passion for building parks. Now, Laura manages Allen park projects from concept through construction and reviews private development for code compliance related to landscaping, parks, and trails.
"Kids are the ultimate audience and inspiration," says Laura. "I do what I do for them, and it's so rewarding to go visit a park you built and see the joy on their faces."
Even with landscape architecture being a male-dominated field, Laura says her coworkers never made her feel unworthy of her position.
"There have been many times I've been the only woman in both internal and external meetings," says Laura. "I'm the only one who ever made me feel like I wasn't good enough to be there!"
Laura believes that anything worthwhile is worth fighting for. In one of her proudest professional moments, she pushed for an idea that was initially shut down. Instead of being intimidated by the first “no,” she spun her concept in a different direction to tie it back to the team’s ultimate goal.
"I got a quick yes, and we ended up creating an amazing event that impacted the community in such a positive way,” recounts Laura. She says the experience taught her the importance of standing up for your beliefs and speaking your mind.
“Go prove yourself and show everyone how awesome you can be."
ASMA TULY, TRANSPORTATION MANAGER
As the Transportation Manager for the City of Allen, Asma Tuly manages traffic signal construction and performs annual traffic safety analysis. An
essential aspect of her role is addressing citizens’ concerns regarding school traffic and traffic signal timing issues.
When she began her engineering career, Asma’s main goal was to learn as many technical skills as possible. Her pursuit of engineering in the United States meant additional challenges, especially as she acclimated to different regulations and deliverables.
“I had to adjust and go through a steep learning curve to learn about the culture, industry practices, rules, and language,” says Asma.
Rather than being discouraged by the lack of female engineers in the industry, she saw it as an opportunity for young women interested in engineering.
“The good news is that the industry is growing fast,” Asma says. “My advice for those wanting a career in the engineering field is to get some training, intern work, and plan to get the professional licenses to practice.”
She credits her success to the support she receives from her family.
“My mom and husband are my biggest inspiration,” says Asma. “Pursuing my career in the transportation engineering field is a decision I am most proud of.”