Im very proud of this county
CENTREVILLE — Growing up on a farm on a dirt road in Mendon, St. Joseph County Administrator Teresa Doehring had a sense of public service instilled in her from a young age. That mindset, she said, drew her to want to go into her line of work.
“In my line of work, in human resources or administration, you can go to a lot of different industries and areas, but I’ve always kind of landed in this area,” Doehring said. “I feel how I was raised really kind of instilled that service aspect to what you do. I’d rather come into work and have an impact on my area.”
From working on budgets to assisting the county commission, Doehring, 45, has made an impact in her home county in the five years she has worked for the county, including the last two as county administrator.
Born in Mendon as the youngest of five daughters, Doehring’s father was a seed corn farmer, and her mom a homemaker. She graduated from Mendon High School in the class of 1993, and in 1997, received her bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology from Hope College. She received her master’s degree in organizational communication from Western Michigan University in 2001, which she paid for by working full-time in the human resources department at the university.
“It was a good deal,” Doehring said. “I worked full time and did my master’s part time, so it took me about four years to get through that. I had a great experience there.”
Doehring’s career in human resources started with the Calhoun County government, where she got her first job in HR after graduating from Hope. After that was her job at WMU, and after her stint there, she worked for the non-profit Heritage Community of Kalamazoo for 13 years. After a brief time at International Automotive Components in Mendon, she took a job with the county in 2014.
Even though she grew up in St. Joseph County, she said she never thought she would have the opportunity to work in the area in her career.
“I was always looking to find a good spot to continue my career in the county, but there’s not a lot of human resources-related jobs in the area, especially since I wanted to stay in the public sector,” Doehring said. “Visiting the courthouse, I always thought, ‘wouldn’t that be a great place to work?’, but it was never really on my radar as an option, until a position opened up. It was a good time for me to make a switch, and it all kind of fell into place after that.”
Doehring started out with St. Joseph County in 2014 as the human resources director, before becoming County Administrator in 2017. She said her job as county administrator involves carrying out the policies and directives of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners, the oversight of day-to-day operations in the county, supervising county staff, and serving as a liaison between county agencies and the board.
“A lot of what my job is is to put things in front of [the board] that I think, or that another department manager or somebody has brought forward, this is something that, as a county, we should take a look at,” Doehring said. “So, it’s really making recommendations to the board, as well as providing them with any and all details and information that they need to make sound decisions. I also wear the human resources hat, too, so in addition to carrying out the board’s wishes, it’s the day to day operations.”
She said her job isn’t “glamorous,” but it is an “enjoyable” job for her, with the goal of instilling faith and trust in county government.
“I want to make sure that, as county administrator and serving at the pleasure of the board, we’re making sure the public has trust and faith that what we’re doing is for the betterment of the citizens that live here. There are those things we do that, by law or by statute, we have to do. Those are things that I need to make sure we’re doing and providing those services the best we can,” Doehring said. “I’m very proud of this county, this is where I’ve chosen to spend my life and career. I want to make sure we’re doing all these things to keep us relevant. There’s a balance between making sure we’re valuing our historic footprint, but that we’re also looking to make sure what we’re doing is sustainable in the future.”
One of the best parts about the job, Doehring said, are seeing the decisions made by the board of commissioners come to fruition, from big accomplishments such as the new St. Joseph County Commission on Aging Enrichment Center and upgrades to some of the parks in the county, to the little accomplishments, like seeing a department run more efficiently because of changes made to it.
The biggest thing Doehring enjoys about her job, though, are the people she gets to work with.
“We really have a fantastic group of people and leadership staff here. I really enjoy working with the folks I get to work with,” Doehring said. “It makes it a lot easier to come to work knowing you have colleagues that you feel like they have your back and are your friends. They understand sometimes we have to make hard decisions, and they get that, but they’re there to support you when you do do that.”
Currently, Doehring resides in Mendon with her husband, Jason, and their two children, 14-year-old Carlie and 10-year-old Conner. She said her sisters and cousins still live within a three-to-four-mile radius of one another. In their free time, Doehring’s family raises animals, with her children actively participating in 4-H and showing on a livestock circuit during the summer.
Doehring said having the opportunity to do all of these things, as well as her kids getting similar experiences that she had growing up, is what she likes most about living in St. Joseph County.
“I grew up on a dirt road and I appreciate what this county has to offer by way of our landscape,” Doehring said. “I worked in Kalamazoo for almost 15 years, and I love to go to Kalamazoo, I love to shop, and I love the things that Kalamazoo has to offer, but I really love to drive my 40 minutes home and have the space and opportunity to do everything here.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or email@example.com.