Photos Courtesy of the City of Peoria

The city of Peoria recently promoted four top internal candidates to important management roles. Read on to learn more about these dedicated city staff members.

Peoria Selects New Fire-Medical Chief
Following a formal candidate selection process, the city of Peoria has selected Peoria Deputy Fire-Medical Chief Gary Bernard as the new Peoria Fire-Medical Department Chief.

“Gary is a leader among leaders,” says Peoria City Manager Jeff Tyne. “He is well respected within the city of Peoria and throughout the region within the fire-medical community. We are lucky to have him leading the Peoria Fire-Medical Department.”

This appointment comes after the former chief retired on Dec. 31, 2021. Chief Bernard has worked for the city of Peoria for more than 30 years, including the last seven years as the Deputy Fire-Medical Chief. Since 1991, Chief Bernard has worked his way through the ranks of the Peoria Fire-Medical Department, becoming a paramedic, engineer, captain, recruit training officer, wildland coordinator, battalion chief, and deputy chief. In Peoria, Chief Bernard has overseen the administrative, prevention, training, and operations divisions within the department. He provided emergency services during a variety of wildland fires, hurricanes, and disaster efforts nationwide. Throughout his career, he has received several awards for his service, including the Aces of Hearts Award from the Arizona Emergency Medical Systems for his leadership during a multi-vehicle crash involving 12 patients.

“I am so pleased to welcome Gary Bernard as Peoria’s next fire-medical chief,” says Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat. “Chief Bernard’s service and exemplary leadership to our community over the past three decades has been instrumental as this department distinguished itself as a true all-hazards fire-medical department. I have full confidence that he will continue to raise the bar and elevate fire-medical service for the benefit of Peoria residents long into our future.”

Chief Bernard has a Master of Education and Counseling from Northern Arizona University. He has been an advocate for continuing education throughout his career and has encouraged other department staff members to do the same.

“It is my greatest privilege to serve as the chief for the Peoria Fire-Medical Department,” says Chief Bernard. “Our all-hazards fire department is comprised of highly trained and motivated firefighters ready and willing to protect the residents and guests of Peoria. It is my honor to lead them.”

To learn more about the Peoria Fire-Medical Department, visit

Peoria Names Arts, Culture and Library Services Director, Chief Community Affairs Officer, and Interim Communications Director
Marylou Stephens has been selected as the new Arts, Culture and Library Services Director. This department encompasses the city’s library services, special events, arts and theater operations, as well as efforts toward historical preservation and cultural affairs. Stephens has more than 23 years of experience in arts, culture, marketing, and general management. Over the past five years, she has served as the city’s Arts and Culture Manager. Stephens holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Arizona State University. She is involved in several industry associations such as the Americans for the Arts, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Theater Works, and the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.

Kelli Kincaid will serve in the City Manager’s Office as Chief Community Affairs Officer. Kincaid will be working to build and strengthen relationships with numerous stakeholders, including community groups, nonprofit agencies, civic and trade associations, and business leaders. In addition, Kincaid will assist with many of the high-level issues and initiatives in the City Manager’s Office. She was the former Neighborhood and Human Services Deputy Director. Kincaid has her Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science from the University of Northern Iowa and comes with more than 23 years of service to the city of Peoria.

Briana Cortinas will serve as Interim Office of Communications Director. She will be overseeing internal and public communication services for the city, including media relations and digital media. Cortinas brings with her nearly 15 years municipal experience, with the past 11 years serving in the Mayor and Council Office. As Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Cortinas led strategic communications and community relations on behalf of the Mayor. She has served as a close advisor to the City Manager’s Office and has been involved in numerous high-level issues and initiatives over the years. Cortinas holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management from Grand Canyon University.

“Marylou, Kelli and Briana bring a wealth of experience, dedication and energy to these important areas,” says Jeff Tyne, Peoria City Manager. “In these new roles, they each will strengthen the ways we can connect with and serve our community.”

For more information about these departments, visit