Mecklenburg County’s new budget director was raised by his grandmother in Fayetteville. His mother battled addictions that eventually killed her. He didn’t meet his father until he was 21.
So Michael Bryant wanted to be a police officer or lawyer as a way to help children growing up in similar environments.
Instead, pursuing a master’s of public administration at N.C. Central University in Durham, Bryant learned that he enjoyed policy and could “make a larger impact” on his community by working in government.
This week, Bryant was named Mecklenburg’s new Office of Management and Budget director after County Manager Dena Diorio stripped “interim” from his title.
He replaces Hyong Yi, who resigned in January to become assistant city manager for Charlotte.
Since January, he helped Diorio squire through a new $1.5 billion budget that was unanimously approved by county commissioners. “The budget was Dena’s,” Bryant said Friday. “Because I respect her so much, I really wanted this budget to be well-received. It was very gratifying when it won unanimous approval – which doesn’t happen often.”
Diorio said Bryant’s work with the budget won him the job. “He’s incredibly organized, has great ideas and brings a lot of passion to the position,” Diorio said. “We’re very excited to have him in it.”
After graduating from Central, he worked in then-Gov. Jim Hunt’s office in a fellowship program for two years, then in Durham as a senior budget analyst.
He was hired by Mecklenburg in 2003 as a management analyst and climbed to lead OMB.
“I saw budgeting as the traditional path to government executive,” Bryant said. “People think about budgets as numbers. But behind those numbers is the policy and it’s the policy that has an impact on your community – and that excites me.”
Away from the job, he mentors two sixth-graders growing up in the same type community that he survived.