National Stuttering Association

Nick CiceroTown Planner

    Nick Cicero

    Woodbridge, VA
    Town Planner
    Town of Dumfries

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I review many different types of zoning and building permits as the Planner for the Department of Planning and Community Development. I talk with citizens and developers regarding various projects going on within the Town, as well as coordinate Board and Commission Meetings. I serve as the Land Use Expert for the Town in Rezoning and Site Plan Reviews, and write and present staff reports to our Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Town Council.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    For me it is the personal doubt that creeps in sometimes, as my stutter is non existent some days and very prevalent other days. Overall, I have to remind myself to be patient. I used to be very fearful of public speaking, phone calls, and virtual meetings, but once I exposed myself to these tasks it has become part of my normal routine. I still have to remind myself though that things take time, and to not rush when I need to explain something.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I aspire to continue in the public sector in Land Use Planning, and hope to be a Planning Director of a large organization one day.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    I did disclose my stutter, as I described how it has shaped me and made me who I am. I explained that I am someone who perseveres every day, and do not let it define me. I shared this during the interview, as I wanted them to understand that regardless of how I speak or come across, I will always be positive and achieve what I set out. I have only disclosed it to co-workers, but it is very easy to do. Everyone has their challenging days, and I just have related to them that while they work through issues that today my stutter is prevalent and it’s been annoying but we are both working through it.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    My proudest moment at my current company is being recognized by our Town Manager for all of my hard work since I have began this job in early 2021. I have to add that presenting at multiple meetings has made me quite proud, as this seemed impossible just 3 years ago.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering has allowed me to become a better listener, and a more creative communicator. Some days I struggle getting certain words out, so I have to find other ways to describe something whether it be in a presentation or in a meeting. Stuttering has made me more compassionate as well, as everyone deals with our own struggles. Finally, my stutter has made me driven and goal oriented, as I want to only produce quality work.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    As someone who just two years ago was entering the workplace for the first time as a person who stutters, I say remember that things take time and not everything you want will come at once. While others you know may have jobs right out of college, it is ok to not have one or have a firm plan yet. Everyone is on there own journey, and do not let others influence your own personal goals. Success takes time, but once you create an action plan and find a place where you can grow personally and professionally, the sky is the limit.