The Chris Traeger List recognizes the top 100 influencers in local government. Chris Traeger was the city manager for the fictional City of Pawnee, Indiana on the show Park and Recreation. He was known for extreme energy and commitment to improving local government.
The Traeger List is not based on title or longevity. It’s based on an individual’s influence in their community and outside their community through professional associations, mentoring, and writing.
Nominations were submitted from local government professionals from across the country. This year, we empowered ELGL members to select the top ten of the Traeger List. The ELGL Evaluation Team reviewed and selected the remainder of the list.
In 2016, the Traeger List was featured by newspapers including the Roanoke Times, News and Observer, The Journal News, The Finger Lake Times and Sun Current.
This year, the Coeur d’Alene Press, Village of Richfield, WI, and West Bend Daily have spotlighted the Traeger List of Influencers.
The Engaging Local Government Leaders is a nationwide organization of more than 2,300 members from 48 states who are committed to connecting, educating, and communicating with all stakeholders in the local government arena. ELGL members represent all functions of local government from planners to finance directors to city managers to elected officials. ELGL hosts an annual conference, pop up events, #CityHallSelfie Day, and the GovLove podcast which has interviewed leaders such as Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Goldsmith, and Pat Martel.
GovLoop recognized ELGL as a top professional association. StateTech named the ELGL website a must-read for state and local government information. The Oregonian featured ELGL’s commitment to gender equality and collaboration in local government.
Note: Voting by ELGL members was the sole consideration in selecting the top ten.
1. Andrew Hening, City of San Rafael, California, Director of Homeless Planning & Outreach
Word on the Street: Andrew joined the City in March 2016, to bring a strategic focus to the City’s efforts and partner closely with other organizations, such as the County of Marin, who have a larger assortment of tools than the City to address the negative impacts of homelessness in San Rafael. In addition, he acts as a central point-person for the general public and drives the City’s communications on the topic.
Hening’s blog covers topics such as the new strategic focus prioritizing the chronic homeless, successes such as the HOT program and the “Put Your Change to Work” Campaign, and challenges such as alcohol abuse in the chronic homeless population.
Learn More: What is Chronic Homelessness?
2. George Hawkins, DC Water, CEO and General Manager
Word on the Street: George Hawkins serves as Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of DC Water. He is transforming DC Water into an innovative, customer-oriented enterprise.
DC Water is also driving a robust innovations program, focused on customer engagement, vibrant social media, research and development, and in product development and licensing. George has also launched DC Water Works – a program to encourage local workforce hiring.
DC Water has been the recipient of almost every major award in the industry, including most recently, the 2016 US Water Prize for its resource recovery efforts.
George’s presentation at #ELGL17 was described as “absolutely hilarious and unafraid of real talk. He hit on the intersection of people, value, and moving organizations forward.” Key takeaways:
- The worth of the work comes first. Work with good people, do interesting things & do what matters.
- If a government agency needs funding “make a case to customers which means you have to develop a RELATIONSHIP with them.
- Water is the original & most important recycling program in every city.
- We aren’t a polluter. We are the most important environmental agency in Washington DC.
- We have mammoth systems. Incredibly complex. They’re falling apart and nobody knows or talks about it.
Learn More: Podcast: Water Wise with George Hawkins, DC Water
3. Josh Schoemann, Washington County, Wisconsin, County Administrator
Word on the Street: Josh is the GOAT (greatest of all time)! He’s a military veteran, administrator, elected official, innovator, and a key figure behind the 2017 U.S Open golf tournament. He has made significant improvements at each of his career stops. He’s smart and engaging and always looking to find better solutions to local government problems, be it budgeting, communication or making departments more efficient, Josh is on the cutting edge of problem solving.
He provides enlightened leadership that helps build a shared vision among constituents. Doing more with less has become a mantra requiring the utmost in skilled guidance. Josh’s high standards ensure the attainment of quality improvements for homeowners and businesses alike.
Learn More: Podcast: Attracting Veterans to Local Government
4. Kelly McAdoo, City of Haywood, California, City Manager
Word on the Street: Kelly McAdoo is a forward thinking leader in local government. She’s embracing new ideas like customer centered design and empathy in the work of her city. Prior to joining the Hayward team, she worked four years with the City of Palo Alto as the Deputy City Manager, Assistant to the City Manager, and Division Manager of Arts and Sciences.
Bonus points to Kelly for this tweet…
When your daughter texts that she is watching you on TV at City Council meeting #futurecitymanager #betterthanYouTube
Learn More: Podcast: Empathy & Disruption in Hayward, CA
5. Chris Hsiung, City of Mountain View, California, Police Captain
Word on the Street: Captain Chris Hsiung brings a wealth of knowledge from affordable housing in Silicon Valley, to the challenges and opportunities of a modern police career.
Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 21 years and has held a variety of assignments within MVPD. These include detective assignments in Property Crimes, Person Crimes, and High Tech Crimes as well as 13 years on the department SWAT team as an assault member, rappel master, sniper, and tactical commander.
Since 2012. he has managed the department social media strategy, platforms, and engagement with the community.
Learn More: Podcast: Modern Policing & Social Media with Captain Chris Hsiung
6. Ashley Reichart, Washington County, Wisconsin, County Clerk
Word on the Street: Ashley was voted to be the County Clerk of Washington County, WI at just 27 years old making her one of the youngest Clerks ever elected. She has made positive changes, and has saved the county with redoing the budget, finding new sources of income, and was instrumental in growing multiple government social media accounts by more than 10,000 people.
Learn More: Working Hard For You
7. Lee Feldman, City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, City Manager
Word on the Street: Lee has a contagious passion for local government. From his work with ICMA, Alliance for Innovation, and various other professional associations, Lee has spread his belief in the transformative power of local government to an international audience. Lee has a simple philosophy of building community through providing quality services and treating every resident as a neighbor. Even though he may receive 400 or more emails a day, he makes it a priority to respond to every neighbor that reaches out. Attention to the small details can change a neighbor’s perception of government. He wouldn’t seek the spotlight, but he’s an MVP in my book. An Aaron Rodgers of local government…
Learn More: Podcast: The ICMA President & the Intern with Lee Feldman
8. Chad Doran, City of Appleton, Wisconsin, Communications Coordinator
Word on the Street: Chad Doran is setting the bar in Wisconsin for citizen engagement and outreach. His work in Appleton is outstanding, and we (along with many others) are trying to keep up. He created the city’s “Appycademy”, a citizens academy to engage the community about city departments and services.
Most recently, Chad became one of only 100 Certified Public Communicators (CPC). He encouraged others to become a CPC by blogging about his experience – TCU Takeaways: CODE RED!
Learn More: Podcast: Appleton’s Citizens Academy & Communications
9. Laura Savage, Pueblo West, Administrative Clerk
Word on the Street: She is committed and consistent with her duties in the Pueblo West Metropolitan District and is very passionate about her community. I have known her for 10+ years as an engaged community member. Laura is willing to always help out with whatever she is called upon to do. Her positive attitude and great work ethic is contagious and she is always looking at ways to improve our community. She is truly an asset!
She’s been instrumental in helping publicize the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship.
Learn More: Every little bit: Pueblo West Metropolitan District’s administrative clerk wears many hats
10. Greg Guibert, City of Boulder, Colorado, Chief Resilience Officer
Word on the Street: Greg has been a leader in the municipal resiliency space since joining the City of Boulder in 2014. Prior to the COB, Greg spent time in academic and scientific roles giving him a unique network to draw on when challenges and partnership opportunities arise. This position has turned Greg into the ultimate unifier/innovator in local government.
This is evident in the City of Boulder’s Resilience Strategy, one of the first adopted in the Country, where he created a community-focused strategy that leveraged social, economic and environmental resources provided by the 100 Resilient Cities network. Greg’s leadership in this space has led him to programs like the Citylinks program, through ICMA, where he worked with Shimla HP, India to recommend updates to their water infrastructure and the Cities of Service Resilience Americore program where Greg has brought the next generation of resiliency leadership into the City of Boulder organization. In all of these programs, Greg has been a unifying voice connecting disparate resources focused on similar outcomes.
Whether it is bringing in a program like the Resilience Americore from Cities of Service or adopting online community engagement long before others do, he has shown a level of leadership, co-operation, and vision that should be replicated in local governments across the country.
Learn More: Building Resilience in Boulder, CO: Creating Networks to be Better
11. Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans
Word on the Street: Mayor Landrieu called for the removal from prominent public display of 4 monuments, 3 honoring Confederate leaders and one honoring a short-lived, violent coup of the state government by the Crescent City White League. With the removal of the monuments in 2017, Mayor Landrieu spoke eloquently about why the removal of the monuments was necessary.
Learn More: New Orleans Mayor Delivers Message On Race In Monuments
12. Rick Cole, City of Santa Monica, CA, City Manager
Word on the Street: Called “one of Southern California’s most visionary planning thinkers” by the Los Angeles Times, Rick has transformed local governments throughout California and nationally. In 2006, he was selected as one of Governing Magazine’s “Public Officials of the Year” which observed, “First in Azusa, and now on a larger scale in Ventura, he has offered ample proof that good politics and good management aren’t as different as is sometimes assumed.”
Learn More: A Profile in Bold Leadership: Rick Cole
13. Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando, FL, Mayor
Word on the Street: Mayor Dyer helped the community unite and heal following the Pulse tragedy that took the lives of 49 people and injured more than 50, vowing that Orlando would not be defined by one hateful act, but instead by responding with love and compassion. Mayor Dyer is dedicated to celebrating the community’s diversity throughout the year at annual cultural events, and also through workshops to foster ongoing engagement and conversation between residents and the City to further a culture of acceptability and understanding.
Learn More: Buddy Dyer becomes Orlando’s longest-serving mayor
14. Leah Treat, City of Portland, OR, Director of the Bureau of Transportation
Word on the Street: Leah was a leader figure in bringing Biketown to Portland. The bike share program has become one of the most successful in the country. Biketown bike-share celebrates 1 year with free ride day, other events.
Learn More: GovLove: The Stories Behind The Start-Up City
15. David Brown, Former Dallas Police Chief
Word on the Street: During his tenure in Dallas, Chief Brown spearheaded reforms designed to reduce violent confrontations between police officers and the community and increase the department’s accountability and transparency. He displayed incredible leadership during the City’s response to the shooting of numerous police officers in 2016. In a new memoir, Called to Rise, he discusses the challenges that he responded to as police chief.
Learn More: The Empathy of David Brown – Texas Monthly
16. Julie Rusk, City of Santa Monica, CA, Chief Civic Wellbeing Officer
Word on the Street: Julie helped to launch Santa Monica’s ‘collective impact’ initiative Cradle-to-Career as well as leading the team responsible for crafting and implementation of Santa Monica’s Wellbeing Project, funded through a $1 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge — to define, measure and improve wellbeing in Santa Monica.
Learn More: Podcast: The Intern Files with Julie Rusk, Santa Monica, CA
17. Mitchell Silver, New York City, Park & Recreation
Word on the Street: “He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government, and understands that we have to ensure that parks and open spaces are available in every community, and are well-maintained in every community in this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked about Mitchell Silver.
Learn More: Podcast: Parks and Planning with NYC Commissioner Mitchell Silver
18. Andy Berke, City of Chattanooga, TN, Mayor
Word on the Street: Under Mayor Berke’s leadership, Chattanooga has taken bold steps to further harness the unique advantage of having the fastest, cheapest, more pervasive internet in the Western Hemisphere. Following a robust public engagement process, Chattanooga established an Innovation District — 140 acres in the heart of downtown that houses a catalytic mix of start-up businesses, incubators, and accelerators alongside investors and public amenities.
Learn More: Chattanooga mayor: Gigabit speed internet helped revive city
19. Pete Buttigieg, City of South Bend, IN, Mayor
Word on the Street: Mayor Buttigieg was named mayor of the year for 2013 by GovFresh.com, tying with former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. In 2014, The Washington Post called Buttigieg “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of”, citing his age, education, and military background. In 2016, The New York Times published an op-ed praising Buttigieg’s work as mayor and boldy asking in the headline if he could eventually be elected as “the first gay president.”
Learn More: How South Bend, Indiana Cut Its Red Tape for Entrepreneurs
20. David LaFrance, American Water Works Association, Executive Director
Word on the Street: David is the leader of the world’s largest association of water professionals. He has been instrumental in providing solutions to water supply, treatment and management challenges by harnessing the knowledge of 50,000 members across the full water spectrum.
Learn More: Podcast: Water Works with David LaFrance, CEO of AWWA
21. Chris Morrill, GFOA, Executive Director/CEO
Word on the Street: This year, Chris was named the new Executive Director/CEO of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the US & Canada. He served from 2010 to 2017 as city manager of the City of Roanoke, VA.
Learn More: Podcast: Chris Morrill, GFOA’s New Executive Director
22. Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond
Word on the Street: Mayor Stoney is the youngest mayor ever elected to serve the city. He served as the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2014 through 2016, becoming the first African American to serve in this role and the youngest member of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration.
Learn More: Podcast: Leading Richmond, VA with Mayor Levar Stoney
23. Sly James, City of Kansas City, MO, Mayor
Word on the Street: Mayor James has streamlined processes at City Hall to encourage small business development; provided safe activities for young people during summer break through Mayor’s Nights and Club KC; implemented a Women’s Empowerment (WE) initiative to help city government work better for the women who work with it and work for it.
Learn More: Mayor Sly James On The State Of KCMO, And Proposed East Side
24. Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America, Founder and Executive Director
Word on the Street: Since 2011, Code for America has worked with thousands of tech industry professionals to help more than 100 local governments serve their communities better. Code for America is committed to working with government to make the most of our tax dollars to help millions of underserved Americans. Jennifer recently served as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she architected and helped found the United States Digital Service.
Learn More: Jennifer Pahlka: Coding a better government
25. Blair Milo, City of LaPorte, Indiana, Mayor
Word on the Street: She has one of the best Twitter bios. She spent five years serving in the Navy. She was elected mayor at the age of 28. During her time as mayor, she’s focused on economic development and infrastructure. Unfortunately, local government is losing a good one as Mayor Milo recently accepted a job in state government – Governor Holcomb Appoints La Porte Mayor Blair Milo.
Learn More: 28 and Mayor of Her Hometown [Episode 9] – Governing magazine
26. Giovania Tiarachristie, New York City, NY Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Neighborhood Planner
Word on the Street: Giovania believes if the planning profession was a room, the elephant in it would be race. Giovania is the author of a report exploring the barriers to recruiting and retaining planners of color. Her report discusses the hazards of colorblindness, the value diversity can bring, and micro-aggressions.
Learn More: Podcast: Race & Diversity in the Planning Profession
27. Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development, CEO
Word on the Street: Commissioner Zemsky works closely with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and with the regional co-chairs to successfully implement the plans of the 10 regional economic development councils, the governor’s decentralized, collaborative and strategic approach to economic development. Prior to coming to ESD, Commissioner Zemsky co-chaired the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and worked on initiatives aimed at revitalizing the upstate economy.
Learn More: Cuomo: Howard Zemsky is one of ‘the three wisemen’
28. Michael Karlik, City Council Chronicles
Word on the Street: Some folks forget to embrace the joy in serving others. When Karlik chronicles your meetings, it makes it hard for even the stuffiest elected or appointed official to ignore the good cheer. We must take our work seriously, but we can’t forget the humanity and humor inherent in the work.
Learn More: Good times: the City Council Chronicles
29. Melissa Maddox-Evans, Charleston, SC, Housing Authority
Word on the Street: Melissa is a leading advocate for developing affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income families in the Charleston area. She is a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow of Furman University and on the Leadership Team of the Social Justice and Racial Equity Council of The Sophia Institute.
Learn More: Podcast: The Role of Housing Authorities with Melissa Maddox-Evans
30. Wade Walcutt, City of Cincinnati, OH, Parks Director
Word on the Street: In May 2017, Wade was selected the director of Cincinnati Parks. As a parks director in Greensboro, North Carolina, Wade was a key figure in bringing $25 million in sponsorships and private partnerships for parks. He has also worked as facilities manager and park operations director for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and The National Audubon Society, and as program supervisor for Westerville, Ohio Parks and Recreation.
Learn More: Wade Walcutt chosen as Cincinnati’s news parks director
31. Michelle Wu, City of Boston, MA, Council President
Word on the Street: Michelle is a voice for Boston’s future through inclusion, innovation, and transparency. When she was elected to the Boston City Council in November 2013 at the age of 28, Michelle became the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Council. In January 2016, she was elected President of the City Council by her colleagues in a unanimous vote, becoming the first woman of color to serve as Council President.
Learn More: Michelle Wu Has Big (Progressive) Ideas for the City
32. Leigh Tami, City of Cincinnati, OH, Chief Performance Officer
Word on the Street: Leigh has helped expand the scope and capabilities of the Office of Performance and Data Analytics (OPDA). The Office has evolved to become the city’s “nerve center” for data analytics and business intelligence. Her accomplishments include launching CincyInsights, a first-of-its-kind, public-facing interactive open data dashboard portal and creating ResultsCincy dashboards as a component of CincyInsights.
Learn More: Podcast: Harnessing the Power of Data with Leigh Tami, Cincinnati, OH
33. Susan Brown, Town of Chapel Hill, NC, Library Director
Word on the Street: Peter Drucker is My Spirit Animal (or, Hacking Library School from the Inside Out) — this is an example of what you’ll read when you visit Susan’s personal website. She has become a trendsetter in her work at public libraries. In 2013, she was awarded the John Cotton Dana Award for Banned Books Trading Cards project, and in 2012, Susan was the co-recipient of the Mid-America Library Alliance Trainer of the Year.
Learn More: Susan Brown named SILS distinguished alumna
34. Ginger Spencer, City of Phoenix, AZ, Public Works Director
Word on the Street: “Ginger is an example of a homegrown technical expert who understands the need to be innovative and productive for the current and future needs of all Phoenix customers,” said Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher. “Waste management is a critical service that our city provides and Ginger brings the unique balance of understanding the need to be a leader who provides efficient results whether they affect one recycling container, bulk trash pick-up or a massive landfill.”
Learn More: Podcast: Reimagine Phoenix with Ginger Spencer
35. Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County, IL, Board President
Word on the Street: Cook County Board President Preckwinkle has rebuilt the credibility of County government, solving for more than $1.8 billion in budget deficits and cutting $657 million in expenditures. She established the County’s first performance management initiative to demand more accountability from County operations and employees.
Learn More: Preckwinkle to seek third term
36. Jay Nath, City of San Francisco, CA, Chief Innovation Officer
Word on the Street: Under his leadership, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation launched the first of its kind Startup in Residence program in collaboration with the White House, offering an on-premises incubator at City Hall.
Learn More: San Francisco proves that city-startup collaboration can work
37. Matt Horn, City of Geneva, NY, City Manager
Word on the Street: Matt is a frequent contributor to the ELGL website, including a recent series where we compares city managers to figures in popular culture including Ferris Buellerand Tony Soprano. He also is the creator of 47 Castle Street which provides the community a “window into Geneva’s City Hall.”
Learn More: My Life in Presidential Terms with Matt Horn, City of Geneva, NY
38. Darin Atteberry, City of Fort Collins, Colorado, City Manager
Word on the Street: Darin is one of the most innovative city manager, and most importantly, he finds ways to show that he cares about the community and city staff. In 2016 he was elected as a Fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration, chartered by Congress to serve federal, state, and local governments.
Learn More: Fort Collins city manager nets state and national kudos
39. Jonathan Reichental, City of Palo Alto, CA, Chief Information Officer
Word on the Street: Jonathan was named one of the top 100 CIOs in the world in 2017. In Palo Alto, he has focused on modernizing the technology environment, implementing enhancements to the citywide SAP implementation, and pushing the boundaries of innovation in local government such as open data and broader civic participation through mobile devices.
Learn More: Civic Leaders: Attracting Top Talent with Jonathan Reichental
40. Andrew Kleine, City of Baltimore, MD, Budget Director
Word on the Street: Andrew is a nationally recognized leader in budgeting for outcomes, long-term financial planning, Lean Government, and pension and health benefit reform. He has engaged citizens in the budget process, including a citizen survey, a citizens guide to the budget, and budget workshops and online tools that allow citizens to try their hand at balancing the city budget.
Learn More: Baltimore City budget director wins national service award
41. Darrin Tangeman, Pueblo West, District Manager
Word on the Street: By creating the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Program, Darrin Tangeman has effectively translated dedication to service of country into service of community for soon to be military veterans. Darrin’s determination and persistence has provided guidance and created avenues for current military men and women to gain local government experience in preparation of a second career in public service. Due to the program, past fellows currently have a 100% success rate for accepting local government positions in Colorado as well as Kansas where the program was recently expanded. In addition to the VLGMF program, Darrin continues to lead Pueblo West Metropolitan District in areas of economic development, strategic planning, and Priority Based Budgeting while mentoring his team.
Learn More: Traeger Winner Develops Fellowship to Help Transition Veterans
42. Chris Hamilton, City of Key West, FL, Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator
Word on the Street: Chris is a leading thinker on car-free transportation. He’s passionate about getting people to use alternative transportation options. He is a must-follow on Twitter. Chris will keep you up to speed on parking requirements, bike share, and more.
Learn More: Podcast: Car-Free Planning in DC & Key West
43. Carolyn Zelikow, Hometown Summit, Creator
Word on the Street: Carolyn Zelikow is amazing! The Hometown Summit was a wonderful experience – stimulating and educational. One of the best events I have attended in terms of real issues and real solutions. Carolyn’s ability to attract fantastic talent and showcase good work going on in small cities is remarkable.
Learn More: Podcast: One of a Kind Celebration of Hometowns
44. Nigel Jacob, City of Boston, MA, Co-Founder of New Urban Mechanics
Word on the Street: He’s the godfather of urban mechanics. Nigel has tirelessly worked to integrate emerging technologies to city services. Cities across the country have and will benefit from the frameworks developed by Nigel.
Learn More: Boston Invites Smart City Providers to the Table
45. Lisa Morris Hibbler, City of Las Vegas, NV, Department of Youth Development and Social Innovation
Word on the Street: Dr. Morris Hibbler is one of the most passionate and hard working people I know. She now leads the city’s first ever department that focuses on improving education outcomes by supplementing before and after school programming to move the needle on Nevada’s failing school system. Many would run from this challenge but Dr. Morris Hibbler believes in what she is doing and finds ways to work with community partners to help local kids break the cycle to graduate from high school. It’s a tall order but I believe in her vision every time I hear her speak.
Learn More: Dr. Lisa Morris Hibbler – 2014 UNLV
46. Pete Haga, City of Grand Forks, ND, Community/Government Relations Officer
Word on the Street: Strengthening community relations, battling the opioid epidemic and launching the Uber of food trucks, these are just a few projects that Pete has taken head on. The Knight Foundation has shown their faith in Pete by funding his innovative approaches.
Learn More: Podcast: Somebody is Everybody with Pete Haga, Grand Forks, ND
47. Rick Usher, City of Kansas City, MO, Assistant City Manager
Word on the Street: Rick is a local government rock star. He was a key figure in the implementation of Google Fiber in Kansas City. Most importantly, Rick advocated the need to bring technology to the underprivileged who may not have access as well as “tech” innovators who are afraid of local government.
Learn More: Podcast: Talking KCMO with Asst. City Manager Rick Usher
48. Josh Edwards, City of Durham, NC, Strategic Initiative Manager
Word on the Street: Durham has become known as an innovative city, and Josh is at the center of much of that work. Josh is managing Durham’s i-Team which will deploy a range of strategies, including quantitative and qualitative research and design-based innovation to bring greater clarity and new solutions to the city’s most pressing problems.
Learn More: #66 Innovation Officers: Who are they, what do they do?
49. Kate Garman, City of Seattle, Washington, Smart City Coordinator
Word on the Street: Kansas City benefited from Kate’s work on innovation and and technology by becoming a model for how cities can use technology to operate more efficiently, provide better service, and improve people’s quality of life. Kate is the perfect person to be Seattle’s first Smart City Coordinator.
Learn More: In swan song, departing innovation official Kate Garman reflects on tenure with KCMO
50. Ginny Sawyer, City of Fort Collins, Policy and Project Manager
Word on the Street: Short-term rental licensing, marijuana regulations, light pollution, Ginny has been a driving force for these issues and others impacting Fort Collins. She thrives at articulating the city’s position and making it relatable to the people that will be impacted.
Learn More: Our Town Fort Collins: Meet Ginny Sawyer, Problem-Solver
51. John Lisle, DC Water, Chief of External Affairs
Word on the Street: John is the driving force behind the unique communication coming from DC Water. John has the ability to present any water-related topic in an interesting way that makes others care about it. In 2016, John was outed as the Man Behind DC Water’s Amazing Twitter Account. Spend one day following the communication efforts of DC Water and you’ll gain new ideas on how to ramp up your organization’s communications.
Learn More: We Want Our Own Logo!
52. Sam Edelstein, City of Syracuse, NY, Chief Data Officer
Word on the Street: Sam is a leading figure in Syracuse’s drive to make it easier to the community to look at and use city data. DataCuse is providing information on infrastructure, housing, neighborhoods and lead paint. Sam and Syracuse staff should serve as a catalyst for more local governments to take the data to the people.
Learn More: Syracuse City Hall wants to make it easier for people to look at its data
53. Mai-Ling Garcia, City of Oakland, California, Online Engagement Manager
Word on the Street: Mai-Ling is at the forefront of Oakland’s groundbreaking work to strengthen community engagement efforts. She has worked over the past decade to untangle complex government processes and support community innovation.
Learn More: Mai-Ling Garcia – Addressing Public Needs in the City of Oakland
54. Phil Kiraly, Village of Glencoe, IL, Village Manager
Word on the Street: Phil is an accomplished and outstanding member of the local government community. Phil has the heart of a public servant, always willing to lead but never seeking the spotlight. Throughout his career he has contributed to several professional organizations including ICMA, ILCMA, and IAMMA. He has always been willing to help mentor and guide aspiring local government leaders and sets the standard when it comes to professionalism.
Learn More: Village manager says he is seeing a resurgence in downtown Glencoe
55. Heather Geyer, City of Wheat Ridge, Administrative Services Director
Word on the Street: Heather is truly one of the best in the business. She is extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful in her everyday personal life and career, she provides the calm in any storm, works extremely hard, and has an amazing attitude. ICMA embraced Heather’s talent by selecting her to serve as a Regional Vice President.
Learn More: Intersection of Faith and Public Service with Heather Geyer
56. Daro Mott, City of Louisville, KY, Chief of Performance Improvement
Word on the Street: Louisville has fostered a culture of data-driven innovation, and Daro has been key figure in continuing to build this reputation. Daro brings a wealth of valuable experience to Louisville and is a key influencer both regionally and nationally.
Learn More: How Louisville Embedded Performance Management Into City
57. Randy Recklaus, Village of Arlington Heights, IL, Village Manager
Word on the Street: Randy is a standout in the field of local government. He is a dynamic individual with a passion for service that motivates everyone he encounters. In addition to his professional duties at the Village, he is an outstanding mentor and a trusted guide for aspiring leaders. He’s a natural innovator and relationship builder, and should be recognized for his willingness to give back to the profession. An active member of ELGL & ILCMA he has taken time to share his experiences using social media to interact and engage his community. Randy personifies the mission of ELGL and is well deserving of this recognition.
Learn More: IL: Randy Recklaus
58. Greg Clay, City of Atlanta, GA, City Council Candidate
Word on the Street: A native of Atlanta, Greg returned to the area after grad school, and is now running for an Atlanta City Council seat. Before running for council, Greg held multiple roles in local government where he excelled at community outreach and engagement.
Learn More: Podcast: Analyst Turned Candidate with Greg Clay, Atlanta, GA
59. Pam Antil, City of Santa Barbara, CA, Assistant City Administrator
Word on the Street: Pam is a dedicated, un-selfish and effective public servant, She not only puts her heart into everything she does and everyone she touches, but is also well known as a “connector” of people. Having served local governments her entire career in both California and Michigan (currently as ACM in Santa Barbara) and through her active involvement in ICMA, the League of Women in Government, and other associations, Pam brings people and ideas together in a way that motivates and encourages others to do the same.
Learn More: Podcast: Bonus! The League of Women in Government
60. Eugene Dvornick, Jr., Town of Georgetown, Town Manager
Word on the Street: Gene is a strong advocate for quality local government and professional development. While serving as Town Manager since 2007, Gene has gone back to school to get his MPA and has used that opportunity, not only for personal/professional development, but to build a stronger connection between the University of Delaware and local governments in the state. While still a work in progress, this effort is expected to lead to better training opportunities for municipal employees at all levels, as well as elected officials.
Learn More: Dvornick named Del. League of Local Governments’ town manager of the year
61. Will Hampton, City of Round Rock, Texas, Communications Director
Word on the Street: Will is the leader of an award-winning team for the City of Round Rock, TX. Under his creative leadership, Round Rock has won multiple awards from City-County Communications and Marketing Association, the Texas Association of Information Officers and the Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. Round Rock is one of the best examples of a local government who has been able to humanize the work we do in local government.
Learn more: What I Am with Will Hampton, City of Round Rock, TX
62. James Hardy, City of Akron, Ohio, Assistant to the Mayor & Chief of Staff
Word on the Street: Given his youthful entry to public service, James is probably better suited for the Ben Wyatt List. He went from being in a high school rock band (Crimson Rain) to working for the Ohio Secretary of State to running as a college senior for – – later serving as president of – – the Akron public school board. He worked for Bill Clinton for six months, worked as chief of staff for the president of Kent State and got his Masters in Public Health, putting it to use leading the Summit County Health Board’s Health Equity and Social Determinants Unit, Now he’s the Akron Mayor’s chief of staff where he balances his passion for open processes and public input with making the trains run on time and taking care of the employees who keep those trains operational. He’s a good dude who loves his family and his city.
Learn More: James Hardy, Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Akron, discusses his personal background, challenges facing the city and his experience as a student
63. Kathy Nyland, City of Seattle, Washington, Director, Department of Neighborhoods
Word on the Street: Bringing government closer to the residents – Kathy has accomplished what we all strive for in local government. She’s connected with the community through building impactful neighborhood engagement. Her work in Seattle is a model for all of us to follow.
Learn More: Podcast: Broadening Neighborhood Engagement in Seattle, WA
64. Gail Sumi, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Member Engagement & Communications Director
Word on the Street: This list wouldn’t be complete without Gail Sumi. Not only is Gail a tireless advocate for local government, she’s an adept social media user and natural relationship builder. Spend a few minutes connecting with Gail and you’ll discover a level of energy and enthusiasm that’s rarely matched. Gail’s accomplishments and work at the League is admirable.
Learn More: What I Am with Gail Sumi, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
65. Clay Pearson, City of Pearland, TX, City Manager
Word on the Street: Clay is an innovative local government professional whose reach extends Pearland, Texas. His financial expertise kept the City in a healthy condition in tough economic times without a reduction in services to the citizens. Clay is consistently ahead of the curve in the use of technology and places emphasis on partnership with the business community.
Learn More: Knope of the Week: Clay Pearson, Pearland (TX) City Manager
66. Brendan Babb, Anchorage, Alaska, Chief Innovation Officer
Word on the Street: Data, data, data…Brendan is increasing transparency, innovation, and efficiency through an impressive open data initiative. Brendan’s work has resulted in Anchorage becoming a tech savvy city.
Learn More: Brendan Babb, Anchorage’s new data maestro
67. Bonnie Svrcek, City of Lynchburg, VA, City Manager
Word on the Street: Bonnie brings a candor and graciousness to city management. She is a model for all of us to follow – competent, personable, and smart. Following her time as ICMA President, Bonnie has continued to tirelessly advocate for increased diversity and inclusion in the profession.
Learn More: From My Perspective: #13Percent by Bonnie Svrcek
68. Jennifer Davies, City of Las Vegas, NV, Public Information Officer
Word on the Street: She authored one of the most viewed articles in ELGL history. She continues to take Las Vegas’ social media and digital efforts to another level. Her work has been featured by TechRepublic, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Sprout Social. And most importantly, the Las Vegas community loves the work begin done – I Stand Behind the City of Las Vegas, NV Because.
Learn More: I Have to Ask You: We Want Our Own Facebook Page!
69. Matt Bronson, City of Grover Beach, CA, City Manager
Word on the Street: Matt has become a leader among California local governments. He’s seamlessly transitioned from being an assistant city manager to city manager. He’s done so by engaging employees and the community. He’s willingness to share “leading practices” is unmatched.
Learn More: Podcast: Local Solutions to the Minimum Wage
70. Julie Underwood, City of Mercer Island, WA
Word on the Street: Julie is inspiring and exceptionally talented. She succeeded in Julie makes local government accessible by highlighting the interesting and important aspects of the city management profession. She shines a light on the good work of local government professionals, which will have a lasting impact by recruiting talent to the profession, and keeping managers in the profession.
Learn More: #ELGLWorkLife: In It Together
71. Ryan Hegreness, City of Westminster, Colorado, Operations Manager
Word on the Street: Ryan brings a unique skill set to local government. He founded Catamount Web Solutions, LLC, a website development company that specialized in the government and fitness sectors in 2008. From there, he’s been a leader in transforming parks and recreation departments in Arlington, Texas, Essex Junction, Vermont, and Westminster, Colorado. Ryan is a key figure at Brand+Aid events, which provides marketing and social media training for park and recreation professionals.
Learn More: Westminster rec centers seeing success with city’s promotional efforts
72. Phil Smith Hanes, Ellis County, Kansas, County Manager
Word on the Street: Phil Smith-Hanes brings passion, brilliance, and irreverence. He’s passionate about the value of local government particularly counties, brilliant in managing his unique county and molding new ideas to the organizational culture, and irreverent in how he sees the world and those around him.
Learn More: Were You Born to be a Local Government Manager?
73. Dan Ralley, City of Upper Arlington Ohio, Assistant City Manager
Word on the Street: Dan is a consummate professional, who has the ability to bridge long time government process and ways of doing things with new more efficient ways of thinking, addressing and automating government work tasks. The result is a more streamlined government that realizes greater organizational alignment and operational efficiency through the use and adoption of technology. Dan epitomizes what government leadership should be.
Learn More: UA’s new assistant city manager has local ties
74. Shannah Hayley, City of Plano, TX, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement
Word on the Street: Shannah is the only member of the Traeger List who took on a reality show and won. Shannah, with 20 years of private sector experience, is another example of local government benefiting from an individual who brings a wealth of experience from outside the public sector. Most importantly, she’s willing to share her professional experiences, including contributing to the ELGL website – #LocalGovSolutions: Talk Is Cheap But Dialog Is Priceless
Learn More: It’s a Little Plano in Here: How a Reality Television Show Supercharged Engagement
75. Dan Biles, Pasco County, FL, County Administrator
Word on the Street: Dan’s skill set was recognized this year when he went from the deputy county manager in Jefferson County, AL to the county administrator in Pasco County, FL. He’s recognized by his peers for having success in the military, private sector, and public sector. Dan has a natural curiosity about leadership which he has shared on the ELGL website – You Don’t Have to a Supervisor to be a Leader.
Learn More: Podcast: Leadership & Infrastructure with Dan Biles
76. Joshua Smith, City of Hamilton OH, City Manager
Word on the Street: Joshua Smith is leading the charge for a complete community turnaround. Hamilton is a Rust Belt city that has been undergoing a transformation and he is the leading force behind it. He recently reorganized the City of Hamilton to make it more efficient and effective and it will only continue to improve the community. His incredible vision and has established Hamilton, Ohio as one of the most creative, innovative local governments around.
Learn More: City manager says Hamilton can be a premier Midwestern city
77. Chris Orlea, City of Pearland, TX, Parks & Recreation Director
Word on the Street: I started working with Chris while I was as a part-time attendant. He constantly encouraged me to pursue my professional goals in local government. I have channeled that encouragement into enrolling in the Police Academy which I will soon complete. I look forward to a long productive career in local government. Thanks Chris!
Learn More: Break it Down: Now. Hosting a Data-Driven Parks & Rec System
78. Eric Norenberg, City of Milford, DE, City Manager
Word on the Street: Eric has achieved success in economic development, utility, and public works administration and public communication. He’s always willing to consider new ways of approaching public policy while balancing more than three decades of experience.
Learn More: Milford names Eric Norenberg new city manager
79. N. Zach Ratkai, City of Richland, Washington, Economic Development Manager
Word on the Street: Zach has a charisma that exudes local government in all aspects of his economic development duties. In addition, Zach is very knowledgeable in many facets of local government, and has become a mentor while assisting fellow ELGL’ers with advice. He is a diamond in the rough, and the City of Richland, WA is fortunate to have Zach on their team!
Learn More: My Life in Presidential Terms with Zach Ratkai, City of Richland, WA
80. Libby Bretthauer, City of Manhattan Beach, California, Financial Analyst
Word on the Street: Libby works every single day to bring enthusiasm, innovation and understanding to the work of our City’s Finance Department. She collaborates with coworkers on ways to create better processes (often navigating deeply rooted sentiments of “it’s always been this way”) and sheds light on the tangled web of municipal finances. When she started with the City, the annual budget was hundreds of pages of tiny black and white type with just a handful of pictures. Now, the budget includes color, pictures of the City, stories of success, performance measures and more! She also created a “Budget-At-A-Glance” document to provide residents a brochure of the City’s finances that people actually want to read. Even though it’s still early in her local government career, she inspires others to pursue work in the public sector. Last year, she hosted an intern in the Finance Department because honestly, who doesn’t want to intern in a municipal Finance Department? Her intern was so impressed with the work of the City (and the work of Libby!) and spoke so highly of her experience to others that this year, three high school students applied for the same internship!
Learn More: Civic Engagement in Manhattan Beach
81. Jodi Miller, Durham County, NC, General Manager for Safe Community
Word on the Street: Jodi is a dedicated and passionate local government leader who inspires and challenges her staff to find innovative and creative solutions to challenging problems. She has been a leader in the Virginia Local Government Managers Association and spends considerable time mentoring the next generation of local government leaders.
Learn More: Relationships Lift Miller from City Intern to Durham County’s Deputy Manager
82. Natalie Zeigler, City of Hartsville, SC, City Manager
Word on the Street: Natalie’s leadership of the City of Hartsville has transformed a sleepy town into a cooler, safer, more interesting and viable place to live. She moved City Hall into a corner building on Main Street so that local government would have a presence there and to center the focus on development. She’s led initiatives for local entrepreneurs to invest in downtown, and recruited retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, and a boutique hotel to the heart of the city. She’s currently overseeing a multi-million project to expand an existing splashpad into a full-fledged water park, which will provide recreation and jobs, and bring tourists to town. Natalie is a dynamo, and she’s proven that a thriving Main Street is not only relevant to a community’s health, but crucial, and that small towns can be economic powerhouses.
Learn More: Natalie Zeigler Q&A on Hartsville
83. Ashley Jacobs, Aiken County, SC, Deputy County Administrator
Word on the Street: When I first met Ashley, she immediately captivated me with her passion for service and ease at letting her authentic self shine. She is a genuine leader, and seeks to lift others up, and shine a light on the #13Percent. Ashley is great role model, not just for women, but everyone trying to make an impact in local government.
Learn More: #13Percent: Fight Like Hell Dammit, and Win!
84. Jim Healy, Village of Richfield, WI, Village Administrator
Word on the Street: Jim holds the duties of Administrator, Clerk, Treasurer, and Chief of Police. He leads a small team of about 10 to 12 full time employees in a community of about 11,500 residents. Often if I want to leave a phone message for him after hours, he answers the phone. He is always respectful to all residents even when they complain. He is community minded and serves on the Washington County tourism board and member of Richfield Lions Club. He continually connects with the public that he serves.
Learn More: My Story with Jim Healy, Village of Richfield, WI
85. Rosalynn Bliss, City of Grand Rapids, MI, Mayor
Word on the Street: Mayor Bliss is an authentic, incredibly talented individual who has done great things for her community. Mayor Bliss has been recognized and honored locally as well as statewide for her commitment, dedication and work in the field of child abuse and neglect and for her leadership in the community.
Learn More: Mayor Rosalynn Bliss‘ first year in office
86. Timothy Martin, City of Roanoke, VA/GFOA
Word on the Street: Timothy has led Roanoke’s social media effort, which culminated in a record-breaking year in 2016. He has taken Roanoke’s social story all across the country, helping local governments along the way.
In the last year alone, he has spoken at a number of conferences and spent hours helping local governments across the country with their social media platforms. He’s also written a number of articles on social media featured in a number of publications and websites including ELGL.
Earlier this year, he helped launched the Office of Citizen Engagement in Roanoke. One of the first in the nation. Timothy has made Roanoke a leader, not a follower, in the world of local government social media engagement.
Learn More: The City that Incorporated Social Media into Everything Just Doubled Down
87. Nicole Lance, City of Surprise, Arizona, Assistant City Manager
Word on the Street: Nicole’s work to advance women in the local government profession in Arizona is unparalleled. Her leadership of Arizona Women Leading Government has resulted in our annual AZ WLG conference attendance hitting a record 350+ attendees. She herself served as one of the keynote speakers this year as well, inspiring attendees to “stop shoulding themselves.”
Nicole also serves as a mentor and advocate for numerous leaders. She tirelessly gives back to programs that helped her grow her own career, like the Marvin Andrews fellowship at ASU.
This is in addition to her day job as the Assistant City Manager for Surprise, Arizona, where she supports multiple departments and is slowly revolutionizing the way partnerships and intergovernmental relations are handled.
Learn More: Women Leading Government 2017
88. Eric Peterson Town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, Town Manager
Word on the Street: Eric Peterson is one of the most respected town managers in North Carolina. His ability to manage the town effectively and ethically is highly regarded. Additionally, he is leader in training police drivers in safe driving and spends lots of time mentoring the next generation of local government leaders.
Learn More: NC: Eric Peterson, Town of Hillsborough, Town Manager
89. Brent Stockwell, City of Scottsdale, Arizona, Assistant City Manager
Word on the Street: Brent is a proven leader at the City of Scottsdale and through professional associations ICMA and GFOA. He positively impacted the Greater Phoenix area by forming Valley Benchmark Cities with the 11 largest cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona State University and ICMA Analytics. He has co-authored articles for PM Magazine and Government Finance Review.
Learn More: The Local Government Mentorship Movement
90. Jamie Ludovic, Washington County, Wisconsin, Central Services Director
Word on the Street: Jamie is a positive leader with an upbeat personality. She is continually coming up with new innovative ideas to support the park system of Washington County. She also continues to develop a strong social media presence for the County which creates a greater awareness of the services that our offered at the County level.
Learn More: Wash. Co. appoints Ludovic new Central Services Director
91. Allison Scheck, City of Lakewood, Colorado, Public Engagement and Operations Manager
Word on the Street: Local government has benefited from Allison’s decision to bring her experience managing entertainment and sports venues, including Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and Paramount Theatre, to the City of Lakewood, Colorado. She has been responsible for growing Lakewood’s recreational programming by reaching a local and regional audience.
Learn More: The Hottest Takes Ever with Allison Scheck, City of Lakewood, CO
92. Brian Platt, City of Jersey City, New Jersey, Office of Innovation Director
Word on the Street: Brian is embracing local government’s ability to learn from the private sector and other cities. Under Brian’s leadership, Jersey City was awarded a $2.25 Bloomberg Philanthropies grant to build a local Innovation Team tasked with solving Jersey City’s most complicated local issues.
Learn More: Speaker Snapshot: Brian Platt, Director, Office Of Innovation
93. Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, Assistant to the County Manager
Word on the Street: Chris is a leader in Macon-Bibb County and throughout the state. He’s sought after for his insight into social media and engaging the community into valuable conversations. He’s shared insight with ELGL members through articles such as Never Settle for a Single Mentor, Building Relationships with the Media, and Everyone Wants a Parade: The Case For a Strategic Communication Plan.
Learn More: What is an Assistant To: Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb County, GA
94. Aly Van Dyke, City of Austin, Texas, Marketing Communications Consultant
Word on the Street: While the Emoji movie was a rotten tomato, Aly used an emoji (specifically the poop emoji) in Topeka, Kansas to “taboo out of poo.” Topeka’s campaign drew national attention and raised awareness to their waste water treatment plant which cleans 20 million gallons of water.
Learn More: City of Topeka spokeswoman Aly Van Dyke to leave for job in Austin
95. AJ Fawver, City of Amarillo, TX, Planning Director
Word on the Street: AJ has been involved in downtown planning, administration of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, formulation of area plans and design guidelines, and in creation and implementation of a master plan streamlining the development review process. She’s also writes a monthly column for ELGL where she’s covered topics such as Planning & Shaping Cities and The Lowdown on Multi-Modal Transportation.
Learn More: Planning & Shaping Cities With AJ Fawver
96. Sam Taylor, City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Deputy City Administrator
Word on the Street: While working in Washington, California, and Idaho, Sam has been full of energy and great ideas. Sam went from local news reporter to being inside local government where he’s demonstrated a passion for public service. He’s contributed some of the most viewed articles on the ELGL website include Caring for Your Community and Starting Local Government Conversations on Complex Issues.
Learn More: Knope of the Week: Sam Taylor, City of Morro Bay, CA
97. Nick Smith, City of Gaithersburg, Maryland, Digital and Social Media Specialist
Word on the Street: Nick approaches social media like no other. He balances humor and transparency to make city channels must-follows. I’m not sure the City of Gaithersburg was ready for it, but they have embraced his hilarity, ridiculousness, and although you may not see it, his well-thought out strategy.
Learn More: Ideas Worth Sharing: A Community Effort in America’s Most Diverse City
98. Rebecca Olson, City of Roseville, Minnesota, Assistant City Manager
Word on the Street: Rebecca brought the #13Percent movement to Minnesota and continues to be a voice for increasing diversity and inclusion in local government. She’s balanced being a mother, mentor, and local government professional. Her work was recognized when she was recently appointed assistant city manager in Roseville, Minnesota.
Learn More: Olson is New Assistant City Manager
99. Amrinder Singh, Borough of Steelton, Pennsylvania, Director of Code Enforcement and Building Code Official
Word on the Street: Amrinder started his public service career by becoming an inspector for the Codes Department for the City of Reading Pennsylvania, the 5th largest city in the state, at the age of 25. He quickly moved up in the ranks of the department and became the supervisor of the codes department where he oversaw a staff of 23 and a $2.3 million dollar budget.
He was recognized by the American Association of Code Enforcement where he received an award/scholarship to attend the 2015 annual AACE meeting in Florida and also won an award/scholarship from the International Code Council (the organization that created the model building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, zoning, etc. codes) that all states/county/local governments use and attended the annual conference in California.
Learn More: Borough of Steelton Participates in 2nd Annual Building Safety Month
100. Chris Weidel, Metro Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee, New Media Manager, Office of Mayor Barry
Word on the Street: Chris is the New Media Manager at Office of Mayor Megan Barry for Metro Nashville/Davidson County. She provides a great, human glimpse into the life and work of the Mayor, while quickly responding to odd requests, trolls, and angry commenters. Chris’s work is likely one of the top reasons why Nashville’s Mayor is so beloved in the community.