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victoria02-5-4.jpgPeople need to make time to listen to each other, according to Victoria onlineexclusive.jpgWard, human resources director for the city of Sedona. Before moving to Sedona, Ward spent 17 years as a police officer in Winter Garden, Fla.

Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

People need to make time to listen to each other, according to Victoria Ward, human resources director for the city of Sedona.

Before moving to Sedona, Ward spent 17 years as a police officer in Winter Garden, Fla.


As she approached the end of her career in law enforcement, she learned a life lesson that continues to inform her approach to life and her position with the city of Sedona.

She was working in the detective bureau when the man who would be her last partner entered her office.

He was an intense man, Ward said, and, "He didn't have a lot of respect for females."

When he entered the detective bureau, Ward became his supervisor and "He resented that," Ward said. "He didn't want a woman in charge of him."

Over the next year, the two grew to be friends and they developed a strong relationship. Ward believes their friendship helped him to resolve some of the issues he had about women, she said.

But Ward was beginning to grow restless at the police force. She found recruiting to be the most enjoyable part of her job, so she began looking for a career in human resources, she said.

She was thrilled when an offer to be Winter Garden's first human resources director came through in 1999. She accepted it, and when she left the detective bureau, her partner inherited her old position, she said. The department was going through a lot of changes at the time.

"He didn"t handle the stress of the change very well," Ward said. One afternoon, while Ward was still settling into her new position, he came by her office for a visit. She was in the middle of a meeting at the time, but she invited him in anyway.

"No no. That's okay," he said. He left quietly and that was the last time Ward saw him, she said. He committed suicide later that week.

"More than anything else in my career, that's been a real bell ringing in my ear," Ward said. "If someone wants to talk to you, find the time. Make the time."

She doesn't know if there?s anything she could have done or said that may have changed his mind, but she's sorry she didn't speak with him that day, she said.

"It was a real catalyst for me to be available for people who need to talk," she said.

In Jan. 2000, Ward visited Sedona for the first time, and after just one visit, she put herself on a five-year plan to move here. Four years and 10 months later, she did.

"People here are a lot more sophisticated than they were in Florida," Ward said. "It's fun to work with people who are knowledgeable and interested."

In Florida, if Ward scheduled a meeting for employees, she practically had to threaten consequences to get people to attend, she said.

"Here, you can't keep people away. They want to know. It's great," she said.

Recruiting and providing information for city employees are her central roles with the city, but listening, problem-solving and giving people a place to unload is also important.

"Sometimes people just need a place where they can come and scream at somebody, so they're not screaming at their supervisor," Ward said.

She's okay with that. She encourages people to let out their frustrations if they need to. After 17 years in law enforcement, she can take it, she said.

"I'm not getting a gun pointed at me, so anything's better than that," she joked.

Ward believes she's good at putting people at ease so they don't feel like they need to water down their emotions, she said.

"If people want to say that they're really mad, they can say that to me," she said.

She listens to people, she said. Too often, when someone is talking, people aren't really listening. They're developing a response.

She struggles with that as well, she admitted, but she constantly reminds herself not to do that. When she's successful, the conversations ultimately turn out better, she said.

"It's the best job on the planet," Ward said of her current position with the city. "It's wonderful to work with people who are here because they care about this community."

Ward has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice management from Columbia Christian College and a master's degree in public administration from Troy State University.

She has three sons and enjoys hiking, photography and cooking.

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