Knope of the Week: Bridget Kozlowski, Amanda Opalewski, and #ELGL17 Planning Team

Update: NRC, Inc #ELGL17 Photo Album

Update: 3 Reasons Why #ELGL17 Was the Most Fun Local Gov Has Had in Ages


The Knope of the Week recognizes sustained excellence in local government. It’s the Heisman Trophy, Noble Peace Prize, James Beard Award all rolled into one. Many have vied for the honor over the years, but only a few winners have emerged. Kendrick Lamar, Bono, and Cam Newton — none of them can list Knope of the Week recipient on their resume.



The power of the Knope of the Week was recognized in this TedTalk. (Fast forward to 12 minute mark for the Knope mention.)


Bridget Doyle Kozlowski, Director of Community Relations at City of Sterling Heights

Amanda Opalewski, Management Services Specialist at City of Sterling Heights


Bowling, field trips, a ghost bar, and incredible speakers…Amanda, Bridget and the #ELGL17 Planning Team worked together in developing #ELGL17 Detroit. The event was pulled off flawlessly. #ELGL17 offerings were magnified by the energy of attendees. Here’s just one example.

Feel the energy of #ELGL17 via the bloghashtag, photo album, and ProudCity.

We asked other attendees about their #ELGL17 experience and the work of the planning team and here’s what they said.


Word on the Street


#ELGL17 was high-energy and set a positive tone for the work we do in local government. The speakers were knowledgeable & impressive. The venue was terrific and highlighted Detroit in a positive way. Bridget and Amanda and the entire #ELGL17 planning team did a fantastic job, and they have motivated me channel my own inner Leslie Knope in ways I never before imagined.

Also, Bridget is my “next door community” colleague and I appreciate her KNOPE-Like insistence that I join ELGL.

— Elizabeth M. Vogel, Charter Township of Clinton, Deputy Supervisor


Deeeee-troit! What a great event. The attention to detail of the planning team was incredible and truly allowed attendees to experience Detroit. Bridget, Amanda, and crew showed that ELGL is a national organization capable of hosting events away from our home base of Portland. Most importantly, I came away with renewed excitement about local government because of the conference offerings developed by the planning team. Thank you!

— Kent Wyatt, ELGL Co-Founder


This was, hands down, the best conference I’ve ever been to. Why I liked it:

  • Held in Detroit, a real city with real issues, and we got to see real solutions and talk to real people.  Content that I can apply in my own community.
  • Tours were well organized, tour guide told us interesting stuff I wanted to know, and I loved the people we met.  They were true leaders: motivated, passionate, undaunted.
  • The online guide.  Useful info.  Loved that it was paperless.  Wish that more people had signed on as attendees and included their Twitter and LinkedIn info.
  • Hotel.  Beautiful, comfortable, functional spaces.  Easy to get to, close to restaurants, QLine, and points of interest.
  • Food.  All excellent.
  • Bowling.  Loved the activity, the venue, the opportunity to be on a team with new people and get to know them.
  • Speakers.  All important people doing important work.  George Hawkins has me motivated!  What an awesome turnaround story.  Would like to have a whole session with him on changing organizational culture.
  • Diversity in speakers and attendees.  I’ve never been to a conference with so many women, or with so many female speakers.  (And who do I need to thank for not having a golf tournament??)  This is such an inclusive crowd.  I felt like I belonged here.
  • Twitter.  So much twittering!  It was fun to follow, but I need a tutorial.  I’m good about liking and retweeting, but don’t know how to put GIFs in my tweets, and can’t seem to fit my thoughts into 140 characters.  #notoneofthecoolkids
  • Length of conference.  Day and a half is perfect amount of time to be away from work and home.
  • Cost.  Very affordable, great for those from small communities, people who aren’t CAOs or Assistant CAOs, or anyone paying out of pocket. And I’m amazed at what we got for the price.

HUGE thank you to every person who made this event happen.  Transformational!

— Ashley Jacobs, Aiken County, SC, Assistant County Administrator


There is no one who exemplified “sustained excellence in local government” more in the past few months than Amanda, Bridget, and the #ELGL17 team. Those months of hard work culminated in the fantastic #ELGL17 conference. Those who made the trip to beautiful Detroit, Michigan last week were met with a celebration of public service and an affirmation of why we do what we do. #ELGL17 was electricity for our local government batteries and it was Amanda and Bridget supplying that charge. I am sure I am not the only local government leader who returned to City Hall feeling recharged and ready to make their community a better place. I owe that feeling to Amanda, Bridget, and ELGL. Definitely Knope-worthy.

— Matthew Baumgarten, City of Berkley, City Manager


Yesterday, the Mayor asked me how my time was in Detroit. I told him it was invigorating and refreshing to be surrounded by people who challenge the status quo and love the work they do for their communities. I also said we need more murals. #ELGL17 was the highlight of my year so far. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in planning such a great event.

— Rebecca Woodbury, City of San Rafael, California, Senior Management Analyst


Bridget, Amanda and the #ELGL17 planning team did an amazing thing with this Detroit conference. That is to say it wasn’t just a conference – it was an experience. Through their hard work they brought us all in to a more in-depth view of the community, whether it be hearing from City Councilor Raquel Castaneda-Lopez (the first Latina woman on Detroit’s council) or the amazing tours of the City that allowed attendees to learn about neighborhood revitalization, innovation and downtown itself.

This team did more than plan a conference – they put on an experience, and I’ll be forever grateful.

— Sam Taylor, City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Deputy City Administrator


The team that organized #ELGL17 made a mighty good impression on behalf of Detroit. They lined up high-value speakers on topics of importance to #localgov lovers all over the nation. They showed off the food, beauty, energy and talent of their region, and gave us one heckuva good time! Everything happened smoothly, and every need was anticipated and met. I’m so grateful for them!

— Josh Dukelow, Host of “Fresh Take”


“Bridget infused the ELGL spirit into every aspect of #ELGL17. Her attention to detail, her concern about each element of the conference, and her true love of Detroit was evident and resulted in our best conference yet. Amanda’s lifelong love of Detroit shone through at #ELGL17. She made sure that every attendee went home from the conference with a true appreciation for Detroit’s history and future. The entire #ELGL17 team was attentive, ready to help at a moment’s notice, and took their roles seriously, which resulted in a fun and well organized conference. Bravo to the #ELGL17 team. I am grateful for their service.”

— Kirsten Wyatt, ELGL Executive Director


I have been to a number of conferences in my career but the ELGL17 conference was the first where people were genuinely motived to make a difference in their community. The infectious nature gave me a renewed energy to go home and fight the good fight. I look forward to future ELGL opportunities for idea sharing and networking.

— Shane W. Farnsworth, Morrow County, Ohio, Development Director


My #ELGL17 experience was just awesome! Everything was very well-planned and well thought out. The Neighborhood Revitalization tour was awesome!! I didn’t get to stay for all of the speakers on Friday since I had to fly home on Friday, but everything I participated in was a blast and very relevant to the current local government climate. As a recruiter and lover of local government, I think it is imperative that I stay up to date on the current trends in local government and ELGL definitely helps me do that.

Every time I’m around ELGL members It really does feel like family. GREAT group every time. I’m very excited for the pop up conferences and excited to take on some of the planning responsibilities for the Dallas pop up conference. Thanks for all you do!!

— Kristin Navarro, Strategic Government Resources, Director of Recruitment


I attended ELGL17 after only experiencing ELGL online. The in-person interactions at the conference were very rewarding. ELGL…They good people!

— Timothy Martin, City of Roanoke, VA, Citizen Engagement Officer


The highest of fives to Bridget, Amanda, and all the folks who played a part in marking #ELGL17 a success! It’s no easy task playing host to a group of high energy local government professionals but they made it look easy. Thanks to their tireless efforts and attention to detail the conference exceed all expectations. Their commitment to ELGL and energy is on a level that would impress Ms. Knope herself. Thank you for the camaraderie and inspiration, #ELGL17 truly embodied the spirit of ELGL! Congrats!

— Ben McCready, Town of Normal, IL, Assistant to the Town Manager