Town of Mount Pleasant Director of Planning and Development Christiane M. Farrell
Christiane M. Farrell
Bobby (husband), sons John (13) and Luke (9)
Town of Mount Pleasant/ Director of Planning and Development
MUSC Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House through Trident United Way; Day of Caring with fellow Town of Mount Pleasant employees. This year, we helped deliver meals with East Cooper Meals on Wheels.
Bachelor’s Degree, the College of Charleston; Master of Public Administration, the University of Charleston, inducted as a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.
Did you see yourself being where you are today? Why?
I’ve always had an interest in working with people, especially in public service and government. When I first began the public administration program at the College of Charleston, I was not sure where it would lead, but working for the Town of Mount Pleasant was always a goal. Following graduation, I was incredibly lucky to be hired by the Mount Pleasant Planning Department. The Planning Department had a reputation for great planning, and I was very excited to become a part of that momentum. This job has provided me with opportunities to work with many great people in our community, as well as help create great places and good planning for Mount Pleasant.
How did you get where you are today?
I am where I am today professionally because of the great people that I get to work with every day. Of course, hard work, loyalty and dedication are a must, but I believe that you are only as good as the people around you. For me, this starts with the Planning Department. The folks in both the Planning and Building Divisions are dedicated, hardworking, creative and have tremendous institutional knowledge. Working together, we have accomplished much. Most recently, we became the first municipality in the state to have an accredited Building Division and one of a few communities in the nation to possess that designation. I’ve also had tremendous support from town council and from our current Town Administrator, Eric DeMoura. The combination of team work and core values propelled me to where I am today.
What is your life philosophy?
Work hard. Be gracious. Be grateful and always, always remember to say thank you.
What inspires you?
My greatest inspiration comes from the two most important women in my life - my mother and my grandmother. Both have inspired me in different ways with their unique qualities and strengths. When my father passed away at a very young age, my mother was left to raise my brother and me (ages 1 and 4) on her own. She remarried later to a wonderful man, but for many years she was on her own working full time as a teacher, earning a master’s degree and raising two children. As a working mother now, I wonder how she did it. She is a compassionate person and genuinely kind to everyone. My mother inspires me with her quiet strength, commitment and kindness. My grandmother was a very strong woman.
She was the daughter of Dutch immigrants and grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression.
She was a nurse in the Navy in World Was II and later helped found the first recovery room for Conway Hospital. She was part of what is truly the Greatest Generation. She always spoke her mind and was a woman of great determination and willpower. Both women have had a tremendous impact on the person I am today and the type of person I aspire to be.
Who is your mentor and why?
I consider former Planning Director Joel Ford and former Town Administrator Mac Burdette to be my professional mentors. I had the privilege of working with them for 10 years, during which time I benefited tremendously from their institutional knowledge and work experience.
They were both extremely dedicated to the Town of Mount Pleasant. Joel Ford had much to do with how well the town developed over the last 30 years.
From him, I learned good planning and effective communication with citizens and developers. Mac Burdette taught me about effective leadership. His continued support and guidance provided me the tools needed to be successful.
Best advice you have ever been given?
I enjoy reading and I think that some of the best advice can be found in the stories and words shared by great American writers such as Harper Lee and Mark Twain. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” my favorite book, is a classic story about morals from which so much can be learned. Mark Twain has many brilliant quotes and words to live by. Two of my favorites are: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” and “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
What do you do to relax, hobbies?
I love spending time with my family and especially enjoying outdoor activities with them such as grilling out, going to the beach or enjoying sporting events together. I particularly enjoy running. I’ve had the same running partner for over eight years and we are gearing up for our fourth half-marathon this winter. I also enjoy crafting and home decorating.