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ICMA is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing professional local government management throughout the world. Local Gov Life is a mix of stories, insights, and advice from local government leaders.

ICMA is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing professional local government management throughout the world. Local Gov Life is a mix of stories, insights, and advice from local government leaders.
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ICMA is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing professional local government management throughout the world. Local Gov Life is a mix of stories, insights, and advice from local government leaders.




Local Gov Life - Season 5 Episode 02: Human Trafficking

People in local government, from librarians to firefighters, have an incredible opportunity to see and act on signs of human trafficking--if they know what they are looking for and who to call. In this episode, Margaret F. Henderson of the University of North Carolina School of Government defines human trafficking and explains recent research showing that 19 of 25 business models of human trafficking would intersect with local government. Then, City Manager Donald Duncan tells us how he...


Local Gov Life - S05 Episode 01: Strategic Planning

Every community needs a strategic plan. It can be hard to zero in on the right process. Our guests Kel Wang and Michael Sambir led a city of over 1 million people through 2 strategic plans from start to finish and they join us to explain how it’s done. Then, Angelica Wedell of the National Research Center identifies the 6 Es of strategic planning. Hint: it starts with “engage.” If you’re involved with helping a community decide where to go and how to get there, this podcast is for...


Local Gov Life - S04 Episode 03: How to Best Your Budget

Budget season can be intimidating for local government. In this episode, ICMA Members share stories of personal resilience while maneuvering the budgeting process.


Local Gov Life - S04 Episode 03: How to Best Your Budget

It takes a lot of courage to manage a local government. Between elected officials, your staff, and your residents, deliverables and expectations need to be managed with a level of complexity that can intimidate many. Fortunately, ICMA has tons of resources on how to make the best decision for your community- including the expertise of our members. In this episode of Local Gov Life, we talk to some ICMA members who discuss resilience in the face of The Great Recession, offer some advice on...


Local Gov Life - S04 Episode 02: Civic Service: A Love Story

For those of us in public service, it can feel like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. With an unending mission of providing essential services to all reaches of our local populations, it’s good to know that there’s a helpful group of residents ready to get their hands a little dirty- literally. In this episode of Local Gov Life, we sat down with a handful of ICMA Members at our 2018 Annual Conference to weigh in on volunteerism and provide some useful tips on how you can...


Local Gov Life - S04 Episode 01: Learn as a Mentee, Be a Mentor, and Pay It Forward

ICMA’s history is rooted in the sharing of best practices among local government managers. From practical guidance, to the more ephemeral, a good mentor can provide the advice you need when you need it most. They can even help you think outside of the box, and approach issues in an innovative way. So, when asked to share stories of their own mentoring experience, these ICMA members had plenty to share. In this episode, we caught up with some ICMA members at the 104th ICMA Annual Conference...


Local Gov Life - S03 Episode 05: A Relationship Built on Trust

In this episode of “Making a Difference,” Chris Clark, a city council member from Mountain View, California, shares his perspectives on how professional local government managers can make the job easier for elected officials by bringing a high level of expertise and experience to the oversight of their communities. Councilmember Clark also discusses how the involvement of a professional manager helped Mountain View navigate a series of tough decisions during the 2008 financial crisis. About...


Local Gov Life - S03 Episode 04: Bertha Henry Believes There is Nothing More Rewarding Than Public Service

It has been quite a year for Bertha Henry, county administrator of Broward County, Florida. She received ICMA’s Award for Career Excellence at last year’s ICMA Annual Conference and Governing magazine named Henry a Public Official of the Year. But those who know her are not surprised. Her passion for the people she serves and the profession of local government management drives her to make a difference “day in and day out,” as she says. In this podcast, Henry talks about the challenges her...


Local Gov Life - S03 Episode 03: The Rewards of Adopting the Council-Manager Form of Government

In 2009, a citizens' group known as VoteCM'09 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, bid to adopt the council-manager form of government. The group was led by Dr. Robert Fortner, a retired kidney specialist turned activist. Fortner, alongside several other Bainbridge Island residents, was instrumental in bringing the council-manager form of government to the city. Residents successfully adopted council management with 71 percent of voters approving the change. Nine years later, ICMA sat down...


Local Gov Life - S03 Episode 02: Local Government - It's a Rewarding Profession

For four decades, Carl Valente has served local and state governments throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, while also serving five years as financial management director of ICMA. For the past 13 years, Valente has served as the town manager of Lexington, Massachusetts, a town that is celebrated as the site of the first shots of the American Revolutionary War in the Battle of Lexington in 1775. Valente notes in the podcast that this moment in history has an impact on the community to...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 06: Julie Underwood Won’t Let Fear Get in the Way

Julie Underwood, city manager of Mercer Island, Washington, has been the first woman and the first person of color in not one, but two, communities. “It seems silly but I thought if I fail, they’ll never hire another woman…another person of color again,” she said. She shared an anecdote about a councilmember remembering a woman who left a job to spend more time with her family. “He wanted to know if I would do the same thing,” Underwood said. Her manager asked the councilmember whether he...


Local Gov Life - S03 Episode 01: Jane Brautigam Explains How She "Fell in Love" with Local Government

Jane Brautigam has been city manager of Boulder, Colorado, since 2008 and is the first woman manager in the city's 90-plus-year history. Brautigam started out in the legal profession and then engaged with local government to eventually become manager of one of the most beloved and recognizable cities in the United States. In this episode of “Making a Difference," (powered by Capella University), Brautigam discusses how she "fell in love" with local government, as well as the challenges of...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 05: Chris Volkers Gives Back to the Next Generation

After a 26-year career in court administration in Minnesota and California, Chris Volkers became the first female city manager of Moorhead, Minnesota. Volkers said she is proud that Moorhead is a community run mostly by women in leadership roles. “We all work well together; we each bring our own talents to our roles.” In this podcast, Volkers talks about the advice she received when she was starting out in her career—listen first before you speak—and says she gives advice now to young women...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 04: Marcela Piedra Advises “Never Stop Learning”

Marcela Piedra is the first female CAO of El Centro, California. As a 20-year veteran of local government, she has moved through a number of departments, including economic development and community services, before moving to the CAO position. With this extensive experience, plus her educational background, Piedra is a well-respected leader and role model. Piedra believes that having had a city manager that “really embraced diversity,” helped her with the confidence to step into the...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 03: Think More Positively of Your Strengths

Gina Holt began her career in Springfield, Tennessee, as the assistant to the city manager. Now, 28 years later, she holds the top spot as the city's very first female city manager. In this episode of United Front, a special season of Local Gov Life, Holt opens up about her longstanding career in government (both private and public) and discusses what it has been like as a woman working in a male-dominated field. Yes, at one point she was asked to retrieve a cup of coffee for her male...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 02: Step Out of Your Box, Step Out of Your Office

Dana Muscott is the first female city manager of Bay City, Michigan. In this episode of United Front, a special season of Local Gov Life, Muscott opens up about the criticism she has received about her education credentials - and how she overcame it; the management of a big career and a family; how to remain grounded in the CAO role; as well as the importance of mentorship in the profession. She also discusses why she chooses a hands-on approach as a local government leader with both her...


Local Gov Life - United Front Episode 01: See What You Can Become

Bonnie Svrcek, city manager of Lynchburg, Virginia, is the first female city manager for her community. She also became the second woman ICMA president in ICMA's history. A true groundbreaker for women in the local government management profession. In this episode of United Front (powered by TownCloud), Svrcek opens up in the first half about her early career in the profession, talks about her time as ICMA president, and asks women to see what they can become as leaders in the profession....


Local Gov Life - S02 Episode 07: Fighting the Threat of Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels

Sitting as one of the lowest-lying areas in the state of Florida, the city of Miami Beach is very much aware that it is on the front lines of sea level rise. The impact of rising sea levels has pushed the city to spend millions of dollars on climate change strategies including elevating roads, raising sea walls, and installing pumps to push flood waters back into the Bay. In this episode of Local Gov Life, ICMA member, chief resiliency officer, and assistant city manager of Miami Beach,...


Local Gov Life - S02 Episode 06: Resilience in the Aftermath of September 11th

We asked Patrick Malone, who has been a frequent contributor to PM Magazine if he would weigh in on the LocalGov Life Season 2 topic of resilient leadership in the face of crises and he did not disappoint. In this podcast, he reflects on the leadership lessons he learned firsthand in the wake of 9/11 and how he sees them being applied on a daily basis on the local government level. Patrick Malone, Ph.D. is an executive-in-residence in American University’s Department of Public...


Local Gov Life - S02 Episode 05: An Earthquake and its Aftermath in New Zealand

The Canterbury Earthquake sequence from 2010 to 2012 became known as the worst natural disaster in the history of New Zealand. Though it struck first and hardest in September 2010, it was an aftershock six months later near Christ Church that proved to be most devastating. It claimed lives and property and the affected communities are still recovering seven years later. Waimakariri District Council Local Government Manager and ICMA member Simon Markham quickly found himself in an unexpected...