Top o’ the Mitten: ELGL & the Michigan Municipal League

Bridget Doyle and Kirsten Wyatt will both contribute to this blog post detailing their time at #MMLConv, the Michigan Municipal League annual conference for local government professionals from the Mitten State. (The conference is held on a car-free island, so apologies in advance for any haggard bike riding pictures that appear on this blog).


Friday, September 16, 2016, 12:40 p.m.

Yesterday was a whirlwind day, but every aspect was perfect. I couldn’t be happier with ELGL’s participation in the annual MML conference.

We had to take the ferry and drive home after our presentation ended at 6:00… so we pulled into Sterling Heights around 1:00 a.m. It was a long day, but the interest in our session was so exciting that we were driving down I-75 with lots of enthusiasm and excitement.

The room was packed with people who shared a genuine interest in how local governments can attract, recruit and retain younger workers into their organizations. The session was structured as a discussion so we heard from many audience members with their perspectives. Some of the comments included:

  • Our organization is too strapped to adequately hire interns and entry level workers because we don’t have capacity to train them.
  • We want to offer alternative benefits but we can’t afford it.
  • The millennials we have hired have done amazing work for our organization.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss from Grand Rapids, MI lend a valuable perspective to the panel. She’s gone as far to create a Millennial Advisory Board to ensure that the feedback she receives isn’t limited to people of a certain generation who tend to be more engaged in local government.

We also use our PollEverywhere software to get the audience engaged on five questions. Here are those responses – do you agree or disagree with these perspectives to these topics?

A huge thanks to Bridget Doyle, Sarah Craft, and everyone at MML for inviting ELGL to participate in #MMLConv! It was well worth the very long travel days to enjoy the beauty of Pure Michigan and meet some amazing local gov professionals.

Thursday, September 15, 2016, 10:30 a.m.

fullsizerenderApologies for any confusion on our ELGL Live! GovLove podcast that we tried to do yesterday. There’s a lovely and charming feature here at the Grand Hotel where your luggage is brought up from the ferry on horse drawn carriage, so we didn’t have a microphone when we intended to podcast.

But never fear! We are planning a redo today at 1:00 EDT, after we finish at this morning’s session which is focused on local community development in Michigan communities:


img_5123It’s always fascinating to travel to new states and see how their state associations approach their municipal conferences.

My observation is that MML is highly professional, and their conference planning shows it. Everything – from the registration materials, to the presentations and session agendas, to the actual physical layout of the conference hall – exudes professionalism. Check out the general session stage (left).

Does this matter? If so, why? I argue that it’s critical for state municipal associations to put together meaningful and creative learning opportunities to motivate and inspire both elected and appointed city officials.

For our elected officials, their service is voluntary and building out learning opportunities that are professional and polished reminds them of the importance of their jobs.

MML has assembled a conference agenda that mixes people from all levels of government that are affecting city governments in Michigan. There are professionals from the state, big city mayors, small city councilors, and staff. It’s a healthy mix of people to learn from.

These learning opportunities also give staff a sense of pride and purpose in their jobs. Putting careful thought and attention into these conferences makes a difference, and leaves a lasting impression (especially for people like me who are visiting from out of town). Bravo, MML. Very impressed


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pictures from the top o’ the mitten:






Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I’m pressed into a middle seat on my flight to Detroit. Not much elbow room but I’m determined to blog about some of the things I’m anticipating from this trip.

First and foremost – Bridget informed me this morning that the Grand Hotel where we’re staying doesn’t allow denim. I’m 100% in favor of banning jorts, but I’m a little flustered at the direction that we need to dress in evening wear. Hopefully Bridget won’t mind stopping off at the mall on our drive up for some matching sequin evening gowns.

Bridget and Kirsten, podcasting from the patio at the Grand Hotel.

Bridget and Kirsten, podcasting from the patio at the Grand Hotel.

My first order of business tomorrow is to get a #CityHallSelfie in front of the Romulus, MI city hall, for my good friends at Romulus. And then I intend to sit in a car with Bridget for five hours for the drive up to Mackinac where I anticipate a lot of giggling, SnapChatting (I’m ELGL50 and Bridget is BridgetMDoyle), and finalizing our presentation.

Speaking of our presentation – here’s a sneak peak at the file. We’re talking about local government workforce development, and how we do this most effectively, especially as workplace demographics are shifting rapidly. I anticipate lots of audience participation using our text polling system, and plenty of time for questions from the audience. We’ll also be sharing the presentation via the conference hashtag so you can follow along.

Lastly, a question for you. I brought along my portable microphone so Bridget and I can squeeze in a special edition of GovLove Live! tomorrow afternoon from the Grand Hotel (when we’re appropriately attired, of course). What would you like to hear us talk about? Take this quick poll and let us know:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We’re are heading to Mackinac Island, MI next week! (Read more about our adventures earlier this year in Gainesville, FL). I’m excited to reunite for some local government learning with Bridget, one of my very favorite people. How cool that we get to represent ELGL, talk about local government, and hang out on an island together?!

We’re joining a great conference lineup with the below session on Thursday, September 15 at 3:45 p.m. Immediately following, ELGL will host a meet-up to continue the conversation about work life balance, attracting the next generation of local government leaders, and professional development.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss is joining our panel – I met her at the Governing Summit in Louisville earlier this year and was immediately impressed with her laser-like focus on innovation, productivity and creativity in local government.

Please follow this post for more updates as we prepare for and attend #MMLConv!

Millennials as Local Government Leaders

The next generation of local government leaders—millennials—often get a bad rap. Pinned as lazy, entitled, unable to communicate and coddled by their parents, millennials are often stereotyped as unfit for leadership positions. This session is framed to help current and future local government leaders better understand millennials and how most defy these overplayed labels. Further, this session will help cities learn how to hone the different but important skills held by millennials and their more seasoned counterparts in order to produce an accepting and forward-thinking work environment.


Sarah Craft, Program Coordinator, Civic Innovations, Michigan Municipal League


Rosalynn Bliss, Grand Rapids Mayor and 2016-17 President, Board of Trustees, Michigan Municipal League

Bridget Doyle, Community Relations Director, Sterling Heights

Kirsten Wyatt, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Emerging Local Government Leaders

More about Mackinac from Wikipedia:

  • A unique local ordinance prohibits the use of any motor vehicles on the island.
  • The most common means of travel are foot, bicycle, or horseback.
  • Certain enumerated exceptions include emergency vehicles, electric wheelchairs for those with disabilities, snowmobiles in winter, and golf carts for on-course use only.
  • Mackinac Island is home to the famed Grand Hotel (this is where we’re staying!).
  • The 1980 movie Somewhere in Time was filmed here, and the city made an exception to allow the production company to use motorized vehicles on the island.
  • Mackinac Island is also noted for its many fudge shops on the island.
  • The island has a very large industry making fudge in a traditional manner, creating large portions on cold marble slabs.
  • The many varieties are a tourist draw and common gift throughout Michigan.