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2020 #ELGLTraeger Winners: #21-#30

Posted on December 16, 2020


traeger 21-30

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re counting down the top 100 influencers in local government. Today, met ten amazing local leaders who are making a difference in their communities. View the full list on the #ELGLTraeger page, and share your congrats using the hashtag #ELGLTraeger on social media!


stephanie chase#21 – Stephanie Chase

Executive Director, Libraries of Eastern Oregon

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Creative. Innovative. Champion.

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Stephanie Chase Stephanie Chase is one of my all-time favorite folks. Stephanie is a champion of calling it like it is – even the hard stuff – in order to make the world a better place. Her stellar #MorningBuzz blog posts on change, supporting families at work, and the evolution of libraries are fantastic pieces you need to stop what you’re doing and go read right now. But it isn’t just her wonderful writing or the joy she brings to the everyday grind that are magical; Stephanie is also a kind listener, one of those dear friends from whom you can receive the most trusted counsel.

Her article “Libraries: the choice to be essential” was quite the conversation starter in my circle and has been foundational many library leaders during Pandemic when advocating, fighting, or scrapping for resource.  One of my favorite quotes from Stephanie: “I’m not going to be one to tell the community what they want.” She believes in community and she helps others see how community input can and should drive decision making. During Pandemic and recovery, we need to be prioritizing what our communities need and want more than ever – and Stephanie, I know, will help many organizations get there like she got ours. Good luck to you, friend, and know you have a whole crowd of supporters cheering you on! 

Anything else to add? 

My world got brighter when I met Stephanie Chase (and I know yours will, too). Thank you for all you do! Love this quote from her ELGL article mentioned above: “I have a strong collection of moments, big and small, where I have had the incredible opportunity to know I made a difference in someone’s life. I treasure the deep friendships I’ve made through my line of work, and the amazing colleagues I have been able to work with.”


meredith reynolds#22 – Meredith Reynolds

Park Planning and Partnership Bureau Manager, City of Long Beach 

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Determined, Mentor, and Visionary 

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Meredith Reynolds deeply cares about the residents of Long Beach, her colleagues, and young professionals. She tirelessly works to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy their local park and beach. No matter how busy she is, she is always available to listen to an idea, discuss a job opportunity, a promotion, the in-and-outs of salary negotiation, and offers her institutional knowledge freely to all. Like a boss, Meredith is always ready to activate the “Coalition of the willing” a coined phrased invented by her. Her years of experience has taught me that professional relationships, partnerships, and community collaboration is the secret sauce to making the impossible possible. 

Anything else to add? 

The City of Long Beach is lucky to have Meredith Reynolds energy and determination. 


meredith hauck#23 – Meredith Hauck

Assistant City Administrator, City of Merriam, KS

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

confident, fearless, driven

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Meredith is exceptional at delivering clear, direct guidance to staff. Many managers deliver unclear feedback because they’re trying to soften the blow, but they inadvertently create confusion. Meredith taught me that “clear is kind.” She can gently deliver tough news in a way that leaves the recipient feeling empowered to succeed because they fully understand how they fell short of expectations. Meredith is a mentor to many local government leaders. She goes the extra mile to help people make connections to help them expand their knowledge and networks. She is always willing to volunteer for a committee or take an informal phone call to lend her expertise to others. 

Anything else to add? 

Meredith led major construction projects in her roles in both Raymore, MO and Merriam, KS. She masterfully led the community through some difficult decisions for the design of the community center in Merriam, including fielding media inquiries and lengthy Q&A at council meetings. The proof is in the pudding. The Merriam Community Center opened this summer on time and within budget despite the unusual circumstances of COVID-19.  Meredith’s passion lies in helping people achieve their best outcomes. She knows how to work with people to achieve great things together.


alyssa dinberg#24 – Alyssa Dinberg

COVID-19 Recovery Coordinator, Clear Creek County

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Dedicated, Wholehearted, Staunch

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

I have worked with many people that care about good governance in my career, and I can honestly say that Alyssa epitomizes what that phrase means. Since she was hired as the Clear Creek County Recovery Coordinator earlier this year, she has worked tirelessly to assist the County, The Municipalities of Clear Creek and the Residents of the same with their struggles related to the Pandemic. She is also very involved in organizations and groups that support Local Government Administrators, and spends countless hours serving our community. It’s rare to meet someone these days with the drive and dedication that Alyssa shows day in and day out serving our County.  

There are so many reasons Alyssa should win a Traeger Award– from her work as Gov Love Podcast cohost to her incredible work granting recovery funds in Clear Creek County (over 1.5 million last I heard!). However, I’m nominating Alyssa because she personally inspired me to take a leap of faith and it paid off. The grit and vulnerability she showed after a pandemic layoff was inspiring. Literally. She shared her experience with a career coach through the uncertainty. Even though she was facing unemployment, she still encouraged others to achieve their full potential. Because of her friendship and encouragement, I found my dream job. 


kevin Knutson#25 – Kevin Knutson

Assistant County Administrator, Pinellas County

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

caring, innovative, knowledgable

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Kevin Is that guy who never stops—never stops learning, never stops giving, never says not possible.  He is constantly curious and thoughtful and is talented beyond measure, not only in the government arena but in just about anything you can imagine.  He started his career in the arts and that creativity landed him in budget, in communications, in every function and aspect of government, including city manager in the best of times and the worst of times and places. 

Kevin puts a lot of energy into improving the profession in the areas of strategic planning, process improvement, and performance management. He serves on committeess in numerous organizations, volunteers as an examiner in award program, provides peer coaching, and mentors up-and-coming local government rock stars. He cares deeply about public service and does what he can to improve our srvice delivery and community engagement. 

I was extremely fortunate to work under Kevin’s leadership during his tenure at the City of Reno. It’s difficult to put into words the positive impact he made to the organization and community, but I will try my best to highlight.  Kevin began his career at the city by transforming our communications department to be a more forward thinking, organized and results-driven team. He focused on collaboration and creativity. He made effective changes when needed, recognized exceptional work/talent and advanced our city’s communications efforts. He helped change our team to an award-winning, nationally recognized team.  

Anything else to add? 

Kevin Knutson exemplifies what it means to be a local government influencer. Without a doubt the Traeger List is not complete without him on it.  


kathryn mortensen#26 – Kathryn Mortensen

Budget and Performance Analyst, City of Brighton, CO

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Savvy, curious, enthusiastic

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Kathryn was instrumental in making the 2021 Budget process inviting and successful despite having to move virtual in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all experienced, a lot gets lost in moving events digital. It is much harder to stay engaged, build relationships and trust, and communicate effectively when you lose the human element. For the City of Brighton, all of these elements were pivotal to running a successful 2021 Budget process as the entire team was brand new and the City was coming off turbulent financial times even before COVID, and we knew we would be asking departments to make significant changes. As a first-year Budget Manager, I was extremely worried about how we would deliver a collaborative process and still inspire innovation given the new environment.   

Enter Kathryn. Kathryn was a Budget and Performance Fellow when COVID-19 hit, but she took an immediate leadership role in finding solutions to these concerns. She is a whiz with G-Suite and moved all of our budget aids into shared digital formats that were easy to follow and allowed for instant updates and feedback from all sides. She also created a welcoming intranet site full of fun aids to try and make the budget less scary. The feedback across the organization as tremendously positive with many saying it was the best budget experience they ever had. I think that is amazing given it was a year of significant cuts. Her work was so exemplary that we were able to move her into a permanent analyst position-can’t let that talent leave.  Additionally, she has helped our performance initiatives take a giant leap forward. She has developed an accessible Strategic Plan Report Card for residents to track progress on the City’s vision and goals and created the City’s first Capital Project Dashboard. She was also a key player in rolling-out the City’s COVID-19 assistance grants to residents and businesses. Her keen knowledge of G-Suite again came into play as she taught the Finance Team how to use Google Forms for applications and structure collaborative tracking mechanisms for applications in Google Sheets. 

Anything else to add? 

Kathryn is definitely a rising star in local government. She is ready to take on tasks well-above her assigned duties and she has a knack for building partnerships and positive energy around new initiatives. She is also incredibly humble. Because Kathryn somehow had more to give in 2020 she spent several late nights volunteering with Colorado Women Leading Government late into the night after her daughter went to bed. It is the type of contribution that makes you question how she manages to do it all and keep her characteristic generosity of spirit. We all could be a bit more like Kathryn in 2020. 


ashley copeland#27 – Ashley Copeland

Communications Manager, City of Newnan

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Energetic, Determined, & Bubbly

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

This nominee deserves a place on the 2020 Traeger list because she is an energetic, passionate and emerging local government leader who loves local government! She is on a mission to change her community’s outlook on local government – one project, initiative and idea at a time through her role as Communications Manager for the City of Newnan. She sees her role as more than sharing information with the public, but more so as a voice for the city and all that it has to offer its residents.

She’s continuing to make headway in the city, community and workplace through various internal and external programs and initiatives that are considered as new territory for the city. One program in particular is a program that expands community outreach in ways that are reaching the residents in the community where they are, and inviting them into the processes in which they can truly make a difference and impact. She’s worked to revamp the city’s efforts of educating and informing residents of the city’s programs and services throughout their 15+ year program, Newnan Citizen Academy. For her, she’s all about bringing new and exciting ideas and ventures to the city.

Anything else to add? 

She loves being a member of ELGL, which has been a great support to her newly local gov career!


megan erwin#28 – Megan Erwin

HUD Compliance Manager, City of Norfolk

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Achiever, Prepared, Fearless

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

The joke is “We will all be working for Megan some day”.  This is what we say after Megan is presented with yet another difficult challenge, unflinchingly accepts the challenge, then proceeds to rise to the occasion and produce yet another success.  In the last year, Megan took the reins of the city’s HUD Entitlement Grant Division on an temporary basis. You might think she was asked to fill this role because of a great deal of earned experience and technical expertise with HUD entitlement grants or maybe just grants generally – but you’d be horribly wrong.  Megan was intended to be a short-term solution – a competent administrator who would steer the ship while a experienced candidate was identified. 

Fast-forward nearly 10 months and Megan has transformed the division.  She’s increased the staff from two to five, built great relationships with community partners, and quickly learned how to interpret the vagaries of the relevant CFR sections. In fact Megan was so successful that this summer she was asked to also act as the city’s Corona Virus Stimulus Coordinator – another challenge accepted.  Megan has quickly become a leading voice regionally and at the state level on CARES act funding regulations.  Megan has enjoyed her work so much that she recently moved into HUD Compliance Manager role permanently.  While Megan is probably more Sam Seaborne than Chris Traeger, she is extremely deserving of a place on the Traeger list.

Anything else to add? 

Megan enjoys Harry Potter bar trivia, typically finishing in third or fourth place in area contests.


reginald freeman#29 – Reginald Freeman

Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director, City of Hartford, CT

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Passionate, Innovative, Leader

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Chief Freeman is a model for how to use data and performance measures in public safety. The Hartford Fire Department has been turned around by his leadership and vision. He is also a fearless leader of his department and working for him I learn something new everyday.

I am nominating Chief Freeman because of his podcast episode this year about monitoring and evaluating performance measures, engaging with fire fighters, and his philosophy on leadership. 

Chief Freeman exemplifies the benefit of hiring people with a military background into local government. He is a leader and makes our community proud and deserves a spot on the Traeger list.


kelly corsette#30 – Kelly Corsette

Communications and Public Affairs Director, City of Scottsdale

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Funny, Talented, Committed

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Kelly exceeds at everything he does, even in a tough year like 2020. Kelly leads a team that includes the communications office, the citizen service team, and the video network. Everyone worked together to produce quality content on a daily basis throughout this crisis and emergency that was unlike any year. He never stopped learning throughout. He lives the motto of take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. He’s at his best hosting our annual employee awards ceremony where he executive produces a quality program filled with videos that poke fun at ourselves and the past year, and also invoke pride in the work we all do as city employees. He’s been on numerous webinars and presentations talking about our behavioral insights work, our use of artificial intelligence to track community sentiment, and how to communicate creatively. He serves on the board of the Arizona Historical Society, coaches his son’s championship hockey team, and as a Navy veteran, volunteered to staff the city’s new Veterans Advisory Commission. Kelly is funny, talented, and committed to public service. I’m privileged to get to work alongside such a talented communications professional. 


We’ll release ten new names each day from December 7 – 18, 2020!

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