Mayor Danene Sorace
Danene Sorace was elected to serve as the City of Lancaster’s 43rd Mayor in 2018, the second woman to hold this post. Before serving as Mayor, Danene served on City Council, chairing the finance committee. Her first taste of local government came while serving as executive director for an environmental organization that was actively partnering with the City of Lancaster to launch the City’s first-ever green infrastructure plan.
Danene brings more than twenty years of non-profit and philanthropy experience to the role of Mayor. She has a proven record of developing and implementing strategies to advance shared goals among public/private partners. Now in her second term as Mayor, she has set forth a vision to build a stronger, more equitable Lancaster, block by block. The City of Lancaster, under her leadership, is laser-focused on four strategic priorities: strong neighborhoods, safe places, sustainable economy, and sound government.
Danene spent her early years in Lancaster County and later moved to Juniata County, where she graduated high school. She graduated from Albright College and received her Master’s in Public Policy from Rutgers University.
What We Do
The Office of the Mayor is the primary source of direction and coordination for all City operations and services. Department Directors, including Community Planning & Economic Development, Administrative Services, and Public Works, report directly to the Mayor. In addition, as Director of Public Safety, the Mayor serves as the top elected official presiding over the Bureaus of Police and Fire.
The Mayor, along with the Executive Leadership Team, is responsible for efficiently directing the City’s operations, assuring the implementation of all City Council policy decisions, and creating an organizational culture that results in the delivery of excellent municipal services to residents of the City of Lancaster. The Executive Leadership Team consists of all Department Directors, the Chiefs of Fire and Police, the Chief of Staff, and the City Solicitor.
Four employees staff the Office of the Mayor: the Chief of Staff advances the Mayor’s policy agenda and directives and oversees the City’s communications efforts; the Executive Assistant provides direct administrative support to the Mayor; the Communications Manager and the Communications & Policy Strategist manage the City website, social media channels, press inquiries, and implement the City’s strategic communications efforts.
Executive Leadership Team
Stephen Campbell serves as the Director of Public Works and is a skilled leader, administrator and project manager. Having graduated from Somerset Area Senior High School, he earned his Bachelor of Architecture at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1979, and his Master of Architecture in Urban Design at Harvard in 1981. He opened his own architecture office in upper Manhattan, practicing architecture and community development in Harlem and the South Bronx. In 1990, he entered public service in New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, and rapidly rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, over capital construction for the public service agencies of Health, Human Services, Fire, Children, Aging and the Homeless.
In 1996, he returned to the private sector, reconstituting his practice as a sustainability and infrastructure development consultancy. During that period he consulted with the City of New York in developing high performance guidelines for buildings and for infrastructure, such as stormwater management, landscape and utilities. In 2004, he moved to Beirut, Lebanon, teaching architecture and capital planning at the American University of Beirut. In addition, he worked in the international engineering firm, Dar Al Handasah’s Planning Department. While there, he engaged in master and strategic planning efforts in Erbil in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and in Oman, establishing areas of historic and natural heritage. In 2008, he reentered public service, in Washington, DC’s Office of Property Management, which later became the Department of General Services (DGS), the agency that designs, constructs and maintains the schools, recreation centers, police and fire stations and other municipal facilities for the District of Columbia. Upon the creation of DGS he served a year as Deputy Director for the Construction Division. In January, 2020, Mr. Campbell joined the City of Lancaster, as the Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Milzy Carrasco serves as the Director of Neighborhood Engagement and was appointed by Mayor Sorace in 2018. She brings with her a passion for sustainable community development while fostering inclusion and equity for all Lancastrians. Milzy is the City of Lancaster’s first Director of Neighborhood Engagement. She uses her passion, experiences, and skills to ensure that Lancaster’s neighborhoods are diverse, vibrant places where relationships can grow and thrive.
Milzy has a big heart for her neighbors. Under her leadership, the Department of Neighborhood Engagement created the Neighborhood Leaders Academy, where residents receive training and tools to improve their community. The academy focuses on individuals of color whose voices are not always heard. In addition, Milzy has been instrumental in several of the City’s community programs, such as community and police engagement and launching a cross-department working group focused on neighborhood concerns.
Prior to her appointment, Mrs. Carrasco served twelve years as the Director of Community & Business Development for San Juan Bautista Church, the largest and only Hispanic Catholic Church in the Diocese of Harrisburg. She successfully led neighborhood efforts focusing on community advocacy and developing sustainable social enterprises benefitting residents of the southeast neighborhood of Lancaster City. Mrs. Carrasco previously held positions at the Emerald Foundation, where she led community development programming and fundraising efforts.
Mrs. Carrasco, a graduate of J.P. McCaskey High School, recently completed the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is also part of a global cohort of Bloomberg Harvard Leaders focused on leadership development and community engagement. In 2016, Milzy was named a “Hometown Hero” for her work advocating for vulnerable families in Lancaster. In 2019, Milzy received the YWCA’s Women of Achievement award for her continued community work and leadership. She serves on the boards of both the Community Action Partnership and Plaza San Juan Bautista Youth & Culture Center.
Chris Delfs has served as Director of Community Planning & Economic Development since 2019 and has a passion for sustainable community development and excellence in city planning and design. He currently oversees several functions for the City of Lancaster, including land development, building codes, public art, health, housing inspections, and community development grant programs. Chris has served in a range of leadership positions as a public manager for over a decade. Before his current post, he was the Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the District of Columbia Office of Planning, where he led community planning and design. Chris earned his Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont and holds two Master’s degrees, one from American University in Washington, DC and one from the United Nations University for Peace. Chris also has a professional certificate in Collaborative Governance from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Barry Handwerger serves as the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster. Barry became the City’s first in-house Solicitor in January 2020. He is responsible for all of the City’s legal matters, including the preparation of bonds, debt obligations, contracts, licenses and conveyances, overseeing litigation by or against the city or its officers, drafting legislation and policy, counseling city staff with respect to labor and employment matters, and counseling and guiding the city with respect to all other legal issues.
Before serving as City Solicitor, Mr. Handwerger was a partner with the firm of Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort and Albert where for over twenty years he served as outside legal counsel to local municipalities including the City of Lancaster. Barry earned his Bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Maryland and early in his career held a Certificate of Public Accounting from the State of Maryland.
Patrick Hopkins serves as the Business Administrator for the City of Lancaster and has since 2006. He was reappointed to the position in 2018 by Mayor Danene Sorace. In the mid-1990s, he served in the same position for two years during the administration of Mayor Janice C. Stork. As Business Administrator, Patrick oversees the Department of Administrative Services which consists of the bureaus of Accounting, Human Resources, Treasury, and Information Technology.
Patrick also has primary responsibility for the development of the City’s annual operating budget ($123,000,000 in 2020), creation of Capital Improvement Plan budgets, and the development of General Obligation Bond issuances. Patrick serves as a member of the Downtown Investment District Authority and on the boards of the Lancaster Higher Education Authority, the Lancaster Safety Coalition, and Lancaster E.M.S.
From 2000 to 2005, Patrick was the President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (PPPA), the state public affairs arm of Planned Parenthood in P.A. He worked in the Pennsylvania legislature from 1998 to mid-2000, as a legislative aide to State Rep. Michael Sturla (D-96) and a financial analyst for the House Democratic Education Committee. Patrick later worked with members of the Education Committee to analyze the impact of various public school district funding proposals on Pennsylvania’s five hundred public school districts.
A 1992 graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and 1985 graduate of J.P. McCaskey High School, Patrick is a longtime resident of Lancaster City. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves from 1985 until 1991. Patrick currently serves on the J. P. McCaskey Alumni Association, the Lancaster Education Foundation Finance Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.
Chief Hutchinson was appointed by Mayor Danene Sorace on January 11, 2022, to lead the 76-member Fire Bureau as the Acting Bureau Chief.
A native of Lancaster County, his 25 years of experience spans across Lancaster County Fire and Emergency Services organizations in both the career and volunteer setting. During this time, Chief Hutchinson’s roles included being a company officer, chief fire officer, incident commander, and hazardous materials team leader.
Chief Hutchinson has served in a variety of fire and emergency services positions including operations and administrative management.
Prior to this appointment, he was responsible for all day-to-day operations of A Platoon as the Shift Commander.
Jess King serves as Chief of Staff for the City of Lancaster. Jess is a values-driven leader with over twenty years of experience starting, building and leading equity-driven organizations, leveraging financial and social capital, building volunteer and staff teams, developing and growing programs, building public campaigns and advocating for social equity and inclusion. Prior to serving as Chief of Staff, she served as Executive Director in three economic development organizations over her career in Pittsburgh and Lancaster. She maintains involvements with various boards focused on economic opportunity and social change.
Born and raised in Lancaster County, she is a graduate of Lancaster Mennonite School and Eastern Mennonite University. She earned an Master’s of Business Administration in the integrated bottom lines of economics, social equity and the environment from Bard College and studied Impact Investing at the University of Oxford. She and her husband are proud parents of two School District of Lancaster students.
Chief Mendez is a lifelong resident of Lancaster City, a JP McCaskey graduate and 22-year veteran of the Lancaster City Bureau of Police. Mendez has served as a patrol officer, a member of the K-9 unit, an officer assigned to the Selective Enforcement Unit, a member of the Lancaster County Special Emergency Response Team, a platoon leader, and most recently Captain of Patrol, the largest division of the Bureau.