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The Manager’s Role in Community Leadership

A National Conversation

The next in-person national conversation to discuss the manager's role in community leadership will take place at the ICMA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh on Saturday September 21, 2024 from 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM.


State Association Discussion PowerPoint Slides

State Association Discussion Workbook 

ICMA Declaration of Ideals

Recording of April 22, 2024 Update Meeting

States Currently Engaged In Discussions

Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Washington



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."  In 2021, an organizing committee was established to help guide these grass roots discussions.

One of the issues discussed by this group has been the City or County Manager's role in discussions in their communities of significant issues of community concern.  In 2022, a group of interested professionals met at the ICMA annual conference in Columbus to discuss this topic and did not arrive at any actionable steps.


When the organizing committee 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.  Another consistent concern expressed was that interest in this work varied widely in different parts of the United States. 

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. 

In 2023, ICMA 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 committee for the discussion agree to use this chapter as a launching off point for the discussions. 

A meeting was held at the 2023 ICMA Annual Conference in Austin.  Julia Novak, Executive Vice President, Raftelis facilitated the discussions.  The group that met in Austin agreed to continue these conversations through 2024 and meet again at the ICMA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh.

Austin Conversation Meeting Materials - PDF

Organizing Committee

Tanya Ange, County Manager, Washington County, OR

Frank Benest. Senior Advisor, ICMA

Martha Bennett, City Manager, Lake Oswego, OR

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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