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The Manager’s Role in Leading Change

A National Conversation

Saturday, September 30, 2023 - Austin, TX

Meeting Materials - PDF

Please join us for a three-part conversation to discuss the role of City and County Managers in leading change in their communities.  Participants in the conversation will be limited to up to two representatives of each of the state local government management associations. 


The first discussion would be a video gathering of participants in early September, 2023.  The second discussion would be an in-person gathering on Saturday September 30, 2023 at the ICMA Annual Conference in Austin. The discussion would begin with lunch at 11:30 AM and continue until 4:00 PM. The final discussion would be a video gathering in November, 2023.  The result of the conversation would be an action plan on leading change that state associations would agree to implement in programming and initiatives in their states.




In 2019, the National Academy of Public Administration issued a call to all government professionals to address the “Grand Challenges” facing our nation. In response, an ad hoc group of local government professionals around the country started meeting in 2020 to develop actionable projects to meet these Grand Challenges.  This larger group became known as the “Local Government Big Thinkers”


A subgroup was formed to look at the “Foster Social Equity” Grand Challenge.  Two topics were selected for further discussion:  how to assist City and County Managers to lead change in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and to gather representatives of the state local government management associations to discuss work being done in the states on these topics.  Both of these groups struggled with finding a meaningful way to further these issues among local government professionals.


In 2022, a group of interested professionals met at the ICMA annual conference in Columbus to discuss a “tool kit” that could be created for use by City and County Managers to further DEI initiatives in their communities.  This group felt that there was enough tool kits out there for use by managers on DEI and another would not be productive.


When this group reconvened in early 2023, there was still a belief that work still needed to be done to focus attention of managers on leading change in their organizations on DEI issues.  Another consistent concern expressed was that interest in this work varied widely in different parts of the United States.  The meetings of representatives from the state local government associations in early 2022 demonstrated some state groups believing much progress has been made, while others could not get the topic of DEI included on agenda of state association meetings.


An idea arose to gather representatives from each of the state local government management associations at the 2023 ICMA annual conference in Austin to further these discussions. An ad hoc group of interested local government managers met in May, 2023 to further discuss format of discussion.   The issue of manager leadership in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion is critical, but there are other areas where we as a profession need to talk about leadership roles? 


ICMA recently published the fourth edition of “The Effective Local Government Manager.”  Included among its many excellent chapters is one written by Valerie Lemmie, Thomas Bryer and Timothy Shaffer, “Achieving Effective Community Leadership in the Future.”  This chapter discusses the broader need for City and County Managers to take an active leadership role on significant issues facing our communities.   

The organizing group for the discussion agree to use this chapter as a launching off point for the discussions.  Julia Novak, Executive Vice President, Raftelis will facilitate the discussions.

State Representatives Confirmed for Discussion (as of July 31, 2023)









Great Open Spaces











New Hampshire

North Carolina






South Carolina

South Dakota








Organizing Committee

Tanya Ange, County Manager, Washington County, OR

Frank Benest. Senior Advisor, ICMA

Martha Bennett, City Manager, Lake Oswego, OR

Ophelia Bitanga-Isreal, Senior Program Manager - DEI, National Association of Counties

Wally Bobkiewicz, City Administrator, Issaquah, WA

T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, Dallas, TX

Danielle Burke, Assistant City Manager, Garden City, KS

Eric Campbell, Senior Practitioner in Residence, Virginia Commonwealth University

Ron Carlee, Clinical Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University

Rob Carty, Director, Career Services and Next Generation Initatives, ICMA

Danielle Dulin, City Manager, Warrensburg, MO

Erris Dunston, Assistant County Manager, Guilford County, NC

Laura Fitzpatrick, Deputy City Manager, Chesapeake, VA

Sam Gaston, City Manager, Mountain Brook, AL

Carl Harness, Chief Human Services Administrator, Hillsborough County, FL

Matt Hart, Executive Director, Capitol Region Council of Governments, CT

Aimee Kane, Equity Officer, Boulder, CO

Anne Lewis. Managing Director, Baker Tilly Public Sector Executive Recruitment

Mike Land, City Manager, Coppell, TX

Valerie Lemmie, Director of Exploratory Research, Kettering Foundation

Stephanie Lucash, Deputy City Manager, Kenmore, WA

Dale Markey-Crimp, Management Analyst, Issaquah, WA

Centrice Martin, Township Manager, Ferguson Township, PA

Peggy Merriss, Executive Director, Georgia City/County Management Association

Scott Mitnick, City Manager, Moraga, CA

Kimberly Nelson, Professor, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Julia Novak, Executive Vice President, Raftelis

Bob O'Neill, Fellow, College of Charleston

Lon Pluckhahn, Deputy City Manager, Vancouver, WA

Nathan Poore, City Manager, Falmouth, ME

Kimberly Richardson, Assistant City Manager, Peoria, IL

Lauren Rose, Assistant City Manager, Sachse, TX

Ed Shikada, City Manager, Palo Alto, CA

David Swindell, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Heidi Voorhees, President, GovHR USA

For further information, please contact Organizing Committee member Wally Bobkiewicz.

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