MANATEE COUNTY, FL (October 24, 2023) – The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has confirmed the appointment of two new leaders.

Nicole Knapp was named Director of Development Services.

She started her Manatee County career eight years ago, bringing with her nearly 20 years of land development experience spanning several areas. In the early part of her career, Knapp worked for the Village of Bolingbrook, IL, where she played an integral role in managing Bolingbrook’s rapid growth in housing, commercial development and infrastructure improvements, which led to Bolingbrook being recognized as one of the top 50-best places to live in the United States.

At Manatee County, she has served as the Public Hearing Section Manager, Planning Section Manager for Emergency Management in Public Safety, Comprehensive Planning Division Manager, and the Impact Fee Administrator. For the past four months, Nicole has been serving as the Interim Director of Development Services.

Knapp was born and raised in Stoney Creek, Ontario Canada, where she earned a degree in Municipal Planning and Development.

“When you love what you do, it’s not work,” said Knapp. “My team has heard me say that… daily… but it’s because of those people that I can go to work every day and love what I do.”

“You have commissioners who fully support you in this new role,” said BOCC Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge. “This is well deserved.”

Lee dePalo was named Director of Community and Veterans Services.

He spent most of his career in public service but joins the county after two years in the private sector where he served as the Chief Operating Officer for an emergency management startup. Prior to that, he was the Regional Administrator for FEMA – coordinating all-hazards preparedness and emergency management efforts within a region that included the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

A career special operations and combat rescue helicopter pilot, the U.S. Air Force Veteran’s career spanned 26 years, 14 locations and multiple combat deployments. DePalo graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Management.

He also holds a Master of Strategic Studies degree from Air War College and a Master of Arts degree in management from Webster University.

“This is work that matters,” dePalo said, referring to the oft-repeated motto of Manatee County’s workforce. “I am super excited.”

“You’ve got three other veterans on this board,” said at-large Commissioner Jason Bearden. “We’re gonna keep you busy.”

For more information about Manatee County Government, visit or call (941) 748-4501. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @manateegov.

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