City Employee Spotlight for October – Laura Copland

Laura Copeland is the City Spotlight for October
Laura Copeland’s love of working with numbers began when she was a student at Pleasant Valley High School. “I guess you can call me a number cruncher,” says Copeland. “Numbers have always fascinated me. I used to love participating in math tourneys for fun in high school. I’ve earned a few trophies from back then and I also took my first accounting classes while in high school.”

Copeland was hired as a Finance Revenue Specialist at the city of Jacksonville in 2007, and she is now the Finance Accountant. Copeland’s main responsibility is to supervise the day to day financial operations of the city. That includes payroll, tracking the in-come and out-go of funds, handle bond issues and balancing the budget. “My job can be very challenging sometimes,” says Copeland. “But I love it.”

Copeland is the daughter of Bobby (deceased) and Cheryl Copeland. She grew up in Pleasant Valley, graduating from Pleasant Valley High School in 1986, where she was in the Top Ten of her class. She then attended Jacksonville State University graduating with a BS in accounting with concentration in finance and management. Copeland has two sons, Andrew “Drew” 26, and Matthew “Matt”, 20. She has one brother, one sister, five nieces, and a nephew. She has lived in the area for most of her life except for a brief stint in the Montgomery area. Her job opportunities have provided her a wide variety of experiences. She worked at McDonald’s when she was in college, she worked for the Calhoun County School System, ERA King Realty, Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center, and, SouthTrust Bank. One of her favorite hobbies is “waterfall chasing”. “I love travelling around hiking to different places and photographing waterfalls,” says Copeland. “I have been all over and seen some beautiful sights. There hasn’t been a lot of time for that lately though since the tornado came through Jacksonville. That was a devastating time for the city; it really kept us busy.” She also enjoys ballroom dancing. “I guess you could say that is my passion,” says Copeland. “After dealing with budgets and numbers all week, there is just something about the music and the flow that clears my head and calms my mind. Dancing is truly my stress reliever. Abracadabra Dance Studio in Anniston is my home studio. I do exhibition dances with Abracadabra for the “Tail Wager Gala” and Ballroom on the Bay in Biloxi for “Dancing on the Coast”. Dancing allows me to explore my creative side.”

According to City Administrator Bert Grant, “Laura is a tremendous asset to the city. She is a very knowledgeable and dedicated employee that always looks out for the best interest of the city and the citizens of Jacksonville. Her commitment to employee professional development, willingness to assist and share information with others make her an invaluable city employee. She is always looking for ways to streamline processes and save the city money. One of Laura’s biggest accomplishments this year was the implementation of the automated Timeclock Plus software. As a result of her efforts, processing of bi-weekly payroll is less time consuming, employees have easy access to personal information, and statistical data can be easily retrieved. Laura is truly an outstanding employee deserving of recognition as the City’s Employee of the Month.”

When asked about the most favorite part of her job Copeland explained, “There is always something different to deal with. The city of Jacksonville has made sure that I have all the training and certifications I need to do my job efficiently. Lots of classes and training. I love helping my fellow employees with whatever questions they may have, whether it be a clerk or a city council member. I have a very good team; we all work really well together. We have a motto: Leadership is a person, not a position. My effort and my attitude determine my abilities.”

Copeland is not sure yet about retirement plans. “Some days I don’t think I’ll ever make it, then others I can’t see myself doing anything else,” chuckles Copeland. “But the cities of San Antonio, Texas, Greenville, South Carolina and Biloxi, Mississippi, do intrigue me. I can see myself living in one of those cities one day.”

As for being chosen for the October spotlight, Copeland replied, “I guess I’m more surprised. It’s nice know someone sees and appreciates what we do often behind the scenes.”
Thank you, Laura, for the fantastic job you do for the city of Jacksonville.
Story & Photo by Anita Kilgore