When he was the general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, people could sometimes find Jacob Snow riding on buses to experience the public transit system firsthand.
With his new position as Henderson city manager, his experiences as a Henderson resident will influence his leadership in the city and vice versa.
"It's interesting how where you work affects how you view your community," Snow said. "I look at the police cars and the fire engines. I look to see if I know the employee working. I think I know why they're here and what they are doing. They are working on this valve or this drainage channel. It helps put structure in my world."
Instead of bus rides, Snow might be found frequenting the recreation centers or even plopping down in an employee's cubicle to get to know him - if he isn't busy signing paperwork or attending meeting after meeting.
As the city manager, Snow is responsible for directing city policy and strategic planning and overseeing all the departments and divisions.
"Coming in, I had some ideas," Snow said. "In my mind, when I think of Henderson, the icons that come to mind for me are the civic areas. We have great parks, great recreation centers and great trails. That's what my family has used and benefited from. That's what I want to build upon and add to."
Snow's story with Henderson didn't begin in April with his appointment but with his parents in the early '50s.
"My parents moved here in the early 1950s," Snow said. "My dad was a chemical engineer and worked at TIMET for 40 years. They drove up Boulder Highway past the city of Henderson. My mom took one look and said, 'We are not living here.' "
Henderson had just been incorporated and didn't have much of an appeal to the family, Snow said. Instead, they settled in Boulder City.
Henderson was often the topic of discussion at the dinner table growing up, he said.
"At the time, there was a fierce rivalry between Basic High School and Boulder City High School," Snow said. "Not a lot of good things were said about Henderson."
After college, he and his wife moved back to Boulder City.
"We were there six months and she said, 'We are not living here,' " Snow said.
Snow said his wife liked the way Henderson was developing and wanted to be part of the community.
starting a career
After high school, Snow went to Brigham Young University.
"I had to take a geography class as part of a general education requirement," Snow said.
Snow fell in love with the subject and pursued a bachelor's degree. He went on to get his master's in geography with an emphasis in urban planning.
"I found it enjoyable and didn't mind spending hours studying it," Snow said. "I knew urban planning would be a great career."
Snow started at the Clark County Department of Aviation, where he worked for 10 years. By the time he left, he was the assistant director and oversaw McCarran International Airport, the Henderson Executive Airport and the North Las Vegas Airport.
Snow landed at the Regional Transportation Commission in 1999.
"At the time, people in the community felt there needed to be a change at the RTC," Snow said.
He went on to help with projects such as the Las Vegas Beltway. Of all the projects Snow takes pride in, his favorite is the Henderson Spaghetti Bowl, which is the intersection between U.S. Highway 95 and the Las Vegas Beltway.
Since his time at the Clark County Department of Aviation, Snow's wife would point out how great it would be if he worked for the city of Henderson.
"My wife played a prominent role in my decision," Snow said. "She said it would be nice to be close by so I can just ride my bike to work."
After former city manager Mark Calhoun announced his retirement, Snow submitted his resume. He was hired in April.
City Council members have said that Snow's hiring has created a dream team of the city staff.
"I think the best thing about Jacob is he has a proven record as a manager," Councilman Sam Bateman said. "I think we will benefit from his management skills."
Many of the council members knew and worked with Snow when he was with the transportation commission.
"No one had a bad thing to say about him or even a mediocre thing to say about him," Bateman said.
Councilwoman Debra March began working with Snow when she was the vice chair for the Urban Land Institute. Snow was on the board.
After she was appointed to the City Council, March joined the transportation commission board and continued to work alongside Snow.
"I think he is a perfect fit," March said. "Mark Calhoun did a lot to hold the course steady. We are not out of the woods yet."
March added that Snow's background will help the city continue finding creative solutions to problems.
Adding to the pressure of a new job, Snow was tasked with finding a new chief of police after former chief Jutta Chambers retired.
"At that time, it was an unprecedented situation," Snow said. "The chief had retired, the two deputy chiefs had retired and a senior captain had retired. We had to get a new chief right off the bat."
March was impressed by Snow's ability to jump in.
"I was really inspired," March said. "About a week before he started, he really planted himself over at the police department to familiarize himself on the issues. I felt like he jumped in with both feet."
His search led to the recommendation of Patrick Moers, who was sworn in in July.
A few months into the job, Snow said he is still learning.
"The first couple of months were interesting," Snow said. "It was like drinking from a fire hose, learning about all the departments."
Snow believes the city is primed to emerge from rough economic times and begin redeveloping.
"I am excited for the Union Village project," Snow said.
As his wife originally suggested, Snow does ride his bicycle to work.
"Not every day," Snow said. "It's hard sometimes in the summer months."
And on occasion, he will even get back on a bus to take a ride.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-5201.