Heidi Behrends Cerniwey joined the City of Ellensburg as City Manager in May 2021. She brings over fifteen years of experience in local government service in progressively responsible roles to deliver and improve a broad range of municipal programs, events, and services; implement local and regional policies, and facilitate outcomes for City Council priorities. She served in two rapidly growing full-service cities in Washington—the City of Tumwater (2012-2021) and Lacey (2006-2012)—with prior experience in private and nonprofit leadership. Since 2014, Heidi served as the Assistant City Administrator for the City of Tumwater, WA, to advance a variety of community priorities, oversaw internal services, enhanced the mission-based culture and talent management system, and managed the Olympia brewery redevelopment project.
A notable accomplishment includes innovation of the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center as a community economic development strategy which drew significant public and private capital investment in Tumwater and garnered partnerships with South Puget Sound Community College, Washington State University, industry associations, tourism, agriculture, and more. As a result, Thurston County was designated Washington State’s Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) for Craft Brewing, Distilling, and Cider to recognize collaboration by private industry, workforce development, and research.
Ms. Behrends Cerniwey attended the University of Minnesota and holds a B.A. from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, a Master of Public Administration from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and recently completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard Kennedy School, in Cambridge, MA. She is an active member of International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Washington Chapter (WCMA), and the executive board of Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA).
She grew up in a small town (<500 population) in Southwest Minnesota and lived in the Twin Cities for fifteen years before moving to Washington. Personal interests include spending quality time with her adult daughter, horseback riding, walking, and hiking. She is eager to grow roots in Ellensburg, explore the wonders of Eastern Washington, and continue service work to share horse experiences with kids and people with special needs. She’s enthusiastic to participate in neighborhood and community-building projects with local service organizations.
Heidi is committed to maintaining a well-managed city with a strong team to deliver high-quality public services and resilient infrastructure systems; effectively implement policies established by the City Council; and build successful community partnerships to address the complex near-term and future challenges that face the Ellensburg community.