1984 with Sarah Bledsoe, Village of Rye Brook, NY

Posted on January 31, 2015

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Report: Glass Ceiling Still Strong in Local Government

More than 215 professionals have registered for the upcoming Webinar: Women in Local Government. The event is a sell out and we have started a wait list. Based on the registration numbers, it’s clear that the issue is not only a female issue, but an issue of how local government can and should better represent the community’s demographic. We asked those who registered for the webinar to respond to four questions.

Sarah Bledsoe


Village of Rye Brook – Assistant to the Administrator

Connect: LinkedIn


Where were you in 1984?

I wasn’t… I was born about 4 years later

Describe your view of whether local government has been effective in attracting a diverse workforce (women, minorities, etc.)?

I don’t think local governments themselves have been successful or effective in attracting a diverse workforce at all. I think professional organizations are working very hard to attract and support women, minorities, etc. once they are already IN the workforce. It has been great being associated with great organizations who are supportive and encouraging on so many levels – but I am already in!

Wave a magic wand and give us three suggestions for improving diversity in the local government workforce.


  • Education – we need to do a better job partnering with High Schools and Colleges to educate students on what local government is, its role in our lives and how they can fit in as a professional.
  • This might be more of a sub-topic of #1 –  but in my experience, MPA students are tending to focus more on non-profit and healthcare sectors and there seems to be a bigger push in those directions rather than toward government studies. More encouragement from local government leaders is critical – maybe even encouraging local government leaders to teach some classes and instill some inspiration!
  • In general, the local government fields can be very tough to break into. Entry-level jobs are incredibly hard to come by these days and there seems to be a stigma associated with that. People tend to shy away from pursuing a career in local government because it seems so daunting to break into the field. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic cure for this – budgets are tight and hiring ‘excess’ staff is not an option for most so when they are hiring, they are looking for experienced professionals.

Give us the names of the local government professionals that you look up to.  

  • Meredith Robson – my first boss who hired me into local government, gave me a chance (with no ‘real’ experience) and encouraged me in so many ways.
  • My current boss who hired me two weeks ago and helped me take the next step in my career.
  • A very close friend of mine who is a planning consultant for a local municipality – she is incredible both in her career and in her personal life!

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