What are YOU most proud of achieving in 2016? What are YOUR goals for 2017?
2016 will go down in the record books as one of the most unusual, controversial years in history! Between the discord of the national election and unprecedented civil discord across the world to the unbelievable athleticism of the summer Olympics and beautiful tributes to some of our favorite celebrities who left us too soon, we were glued to updates on television and social media.
Notwithstanding these world updates, back here in the world of local government, we should all be proud of our many accomplishments across the nation. We asked some AMAZING women in local government what they were most proud of achieving in 2016 and their goals for 2017. Here is what they shared with us:
Leisha DeHart-Davis, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, School of Government – Chapel Hill, NC
My proudest moment in 2016 was finishing my first book, Creating Effective Rules in Public Organizations, which will be in print in mid-2017. It took forever to write and was a labor of love, based on research I started in 2004.
For 2017, my goal is to jumpstart research on the professional experiences of women in local government, particularly the factors that foster or derail career plans. This project will involve a network of awesome women, including co-investigators Deneen Hatmaker and Amy Smith, my Engaging Women partners Margaret Henderson and Kim Nelson, and my practitioner partners Pam Antil, Bonnie Svrcek, Kirsten Wyatt and Angel Wright-Lanier.
Dominique Samario, Public Information Officer – Santa Barbara Waterfront
In 2016, I am most proud of successfully integrating my work life with that of raising a young son. Conquering that first year makes me confident being a strong working mom is the right path for my family. I am also proud to have started my Master of Public Administration program so I can prepare myself to be the best public employee possible.
In 2017 my goals include attention to detail in all work projects as well as continuing to focus on my educational and leadership training while making sure to incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle – like getting more sleep!
Brenda Garton, Administrator – Frederick County, VA
In 2016, I am most proud of having finished serving my term as immediate Past President of VLGMA (Virginia Local Government Management Association), which is the final year of a seven year officer track commitment, and of my husband and I (who is also a County Administrator) having bought our dream little farm.
For 2017, my goals include to improve the budget and capital improvement processes in my locality and to finish unpacking!
Mary Jacobs, Assistant City Manager – Sierra Vista, AZ
This past year, I am most proud of an agreement I negotiated with a large owner of rental properties in the oldest part of my community, which will result in removal of significant debris and dozens of dilapidated mobile homes in early 2017, setting the area up for eventual reinvestment that will benefit the entire low income neighborhood.
In the new year, I plan to finalize and help implement an IGA with our county to regionalize a joint public safety dispatch center in my community; and personally, to establish a solid and sustained habit of exercising at least 3 times a week!
Ashley Jacobs, manager in transition – North Augusta, SC
I’m 2016, I am most proud of the nearly daily conversations I’ve had with people in the local government field, and many other related fields, about the importance of placing women in leadership roles and #GenderBalance in all organizations.
My goals for 2017 are to expand networking and training opportunities for women, and to spend more time outdoors.
Kate Fitzpatrick, Town Manager – Needham, MA
The work I am most proud of in 2016 involved the creation of employee engagement action teams to empower staff at all levels to be leaders and create a better work environment. Our 2015 Employee Engagement Survey revealed that we had some morale issues and we have already seen some improvement just by creating the teams and their initial work.
We WILL have a statement of values for our organization in 2017! That is the goal. I also have a few pounds to (re)-lose in anticipation of my younger daughter’s graduation in 2017 and older daughter’s a wedding in 2018!
Julie Underwood, City Manager – Mercer Island, WA
I’m most proud of returning to the Pacific Northwest and heading back into the City Manager chair. My active engagement in the #13Percent and #GenderBalance conversation has made me more conscious of the important role that I can play in being a role model for women and people of color. I’m especially excited since this move also benefits my family and spouse’s career. Woohooo!
My goals for 2017 are 1) acquaint myself with Council, staff and community, 2) identify the goals and objectives that I’ll be measured against, 3) work closely with my team to accomplish those goals, and 4) enjoy myself (breathe). In addition, I’d like to continue to work with the League to encourage more women to take on increased leadership responsibility, as well as promote to elected officials the benefits of having diverse candidates in the pool.
Tamara Letourneau, Assistant City Manager – Costa Mesa, CA
In 2016, I am most proud of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Women Leading Government (WLG) in California. As a founding member and a board member, I am proud of all of the work we have done to support women in local government. I am also extremely proud to be a founding member and board member of the new League of Women in Government and assisting in organizing the first nationwide symposium this year with ICMA.
In 2017, I am looking forward to continue to support women in local government both in California and nationwide.
Felicia Logan, Director of Leadership Development – International City/County Management Association
Professionally, 2016 celebrated the first decade of Leadership ICMA and I am also proud of the difference this program is making to individuals, communities, the association and to the profession. My certification as a Strengths-based Coach brings me new capacity to serve others. Personally I am grateful for good health, fun family, real friends and great opportunities to do the work I love.
In 2017 I look forward to facilitating, coaching, creating strength-based leadership development opportunities, staying happy and healthy, and to completing my 6th Tinkerbell Half in Disneyland.
Heather Geyer, Administrative Services Director – Wheat Ridge, CO
In 2016, I am most proud of the work I contributed towards the ELGL Pop up conference in Denver in October including: Colorado Women Leading Government (CWLG) teaming up with League of Women in Government and ELGL for a pre-conference happy hour #13Percent Panel; and sponsoring a #GenderBalance session the day of the conference. Both panels were thought provoking about the challenges that both women and men face in our field.
For 2017, I plan to continue to grow professionally by taking on new challenging assignments. My personal goals include going some place tropical (to be determined) and working on my golf game!
Julia Burrows, Director – Governing Institute
In 2016, I was very proud to take “Governing on the Road” to Leadership Forums in seven state capitals as Director of Governing Institute . We welcomed nearly 1,000 government officials from dozens of jurisdictions and state agencies to hear from an exemplary list of speakers focused on aspirational leadership, managing great organizations and best practices in serving the public. I also facilitate our Women in Government program focused on 25 elected women leaders we invite for in person leadership retreats and to pay it forward by inviting other women to run for office. The best quote to describe my work came from Jim Ruda, a long-time friend of Governing, who said the team at Governing is “creating a network of communities and a community of networks.”
2016 gave me the opportunity to meet the amazing individuals who make up these networks and communities, all smart and dedicated leaders who put service before self in so many exemplary ways. The action is at the state and local levels and it is a privilege to connect the people and projects who are making a difference. Personally, I was very proud to have made the pilgrimage to see Jimmy Carter teach at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA. He reminded the visitors and the congregation of the Golden Rule and not just to love your neighbor, but to “Love God and the person in front of you at this moment, equally.” He also encouraged us to spend time on self-reflection and to make changes as an individual to make the world better.
In 2017, my goal is to focus on the positive in as many conversations, presentations, projects, and conferences as possible. More than ever, we need to shine the light on what’s working and share this with as many in government as possible. 2017 will be a year where we will again visit seven states through our Leadership Forums and invite our fourth cohort of elected women to participate in Women in Government – more new friends! And personally, I will do my part to support gender parity and contribute as a “factivist” (a new term I saw just today) and vocal majority to make sure love and acceptance are in everything I do. And, I want to hike Mount McKinley, see Manchester United play in Manchester, England and visit my sons in the foreign countries where they are volunteering.
Marylou Berg, Director of Communications – Rockville, MD
In 2016, I am most proud of my team. We have been working hard to meet our goals – the love and support of these amazing people is overwhelming. My contribution to that is ensuring the right people have the right tools and direction to make the work happen.
My goals for 2017 are more personal – I plan to focus on improving and expanding my professional skills so that I can continue to grow as a manager.
DeAnna Hilbrants, Finance Director – Sonoma, CA
My proudest accomplishments in 2016 was completing the very first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the City of Sonoma. This was my first Finance Director position and my first time working on a CAFR. I was even more proud when my staff celebrated the accomplishment by bringing me flowers and cards. Personally, I continued some significant lifestyle changes that I had started in 2015 when I learned to dance. I’ve become a person who seeks out opportunities to exercise or move instead of the person who finds a reason (usually work) to sit in one place. In addition, as a mom, I was proud to see my son not only find a great online bachelor’s program for him but that he also identified that he could work at Starbucks and get a great education at no cost.
In 2017, I’ll be joining a new City. I don’t know yet what to expect but I hope to build a strong team that weathers the change to a new financial system and appreciates the improvements that this new technology will likely bring. Personally, I’m looking forward to continuing to balance work and health even though I need to find new places to do it.
Sarah Plinksy, Assistant County Administrator – Douglas County, KS
For 2016, I am most proud of weathering the storm of multiple interim responsibilities, including leading and participating in the implementation of a new HRIS system (including managing online open enrollment for employee benefits a month after “go live” while my one and only HR staffer was on FMLA) and surviving the development of new budget materials for the organization that are integrated with the new financial system.
For 2017, my goals are to work with the County Commission to develop operational and capital plans for new crisis mental health center for our community and to prepare the 2018 Budget under the new Statewide tax lid without losing my mind. Personally, I want to take more time to decompress mentally and worry less.
Marcia Raines, City Manager – Millbrae, CA
My 2016 was filled with organizational change as my city faces enormous development pressures for the first time in its history. As a former City Planner I figured I’m in the right place at the right time to help take advantage of this shift.
Personally I’m finally taking time for myself. As a mom, wife and and working professional I’ve not always done this. I applied to and was accepted as the first public administration student in the Homeland Security Master’s degree program. I started in August and am now all in on the student thing. I never prioritized finishing my degree work. So here I go. I’ll finish in March 2018. I’m definitely on the old side of the students. Technology seems to be my challenge, keeping up with the 30-40 somethings. I find that I’ve written briefs and staff reports for so long, academic writing it tough. The research and reading are a breeze. I’m loving all that I’m learning, that I think public administrators need to know for so many reasons, but most importantly to provide the guidance to their communities on how to establish resiliency.
In 2017, I look forward to figuring out a thesis and getting it very close to completed. I would also love to convince my council that this is as important as some of the trivial things we worry about. As lone wolf terror events and natural disasters keep coming our way, it would be great to get ahead of the curve, and not rely on public safety personnel to take charge.
Bonnie Svrcek, City Manager – Lynchburg, VA
My most amazing moment in 2016 was becoming the first female City Manager in Lynchburg, VA! The Mayor came to my house at 9:45 p.m. following a closed session to share with me that Council concluded that I was the preferred candidate. He called me at 9:30 p.m. following a City Council meeting and asked “can I come over?”. I said “of course” and then paced for 15 minutes that it took him to get to my house. I had no idea what the decision was but was so proud of the respect that the Mayor had for me that he was willing to come to my house to share the good news! And then I had to negotiate over a two-week period and couldn’t tell anyone…. But then, I went to a one-day conference in NC and crossed paths with my friends Pam Antil and Heidi Voorhees and could celebrate my good news with them and that eased the difficulty of keeping quiet during negotiations!
Another amazing moment was in Kansas City, Kansas on the Saturday prior to the ICMA Conference. My friend, Pam Antil, championed the first ever 2016 League of Women in Government + ICMA Symposium —an outcome of the Task Force on Women in the Profession that I created during my year as ICMA President. The Symposium was an incredible event and I could not have been more proud to have been a part of that day.
My goal for 2017 is to be more present in each moment and to focus on self-care. This new gig as City Manager is quite demanding and I need to practice more self-care…eating healthy, exercise, drinking water, and practicing mindful meditation.
Karen Thoreson, President/CEO – Alliance for Innovation
In 2016, I am proud of the work we did to spread the word about the Next Big Things Facing Local Government. Getting folks out of the day-to-day and thinking about how to shape and adapt to the future is rewarding. Mentoring staff inside and outside our organization to help build their skills and confidence continues to be a focus.
In thinking about my career in local government, I am proudest of imagining, starting and completing community projects that make a lasting impact like getting to serve with the first Women’s Resource Center in Boulder County, as well as serving as the first Children’s Services Director in Boulder (the insightful mayor at that time thought there was a good possibility that women would begin to work and need daycare). And finally, in Tucson, being able to make massive housing and neighborhood improvements that changed for the better, lives of thousands. Starting the Downtown redevelopment program that continues to improve the city today. Changing how we worked with residents and neighborhoods to ensure we worked together to make community improvements.
In 2017, I am working to ensure that our Alliance for Innovation is relevant, value laden and impactful for local governments across the US. In that effort, we must be willing to change mindset and approach in any necessary area.
We want to hear and share more stories here! To share the accomplishment YOU are most proud of achieving in 2016 and your goals for 2017, send us an email at INFO@LeagueOfWomenInGovernment.org and we will post them here.
Happy New Year!