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2020 #ELGLTraeger Winners: #41-#50

Posted on December 14, 2020


41-50

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!


Khabirah Myers#41 – Khabirah Myers

Coordinator, Office of Tenant Legal Services, City of Newark, NJ

Article

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Passionate, Caring, Hard-working

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Khabirah is leading a great initiative to reduce the evictions in the City of Newark, NJ. She offers resources and legal assistance to residents facing eviction with the goal to create more equity in the City.

Anything else to add? 

Khabirah was a great GovLove Podcast guest.


Kim Nakahodo#42 – Kim Nakahodo

Assistant City Administrator, City of North Kansas City, MO

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Empowering, Creative, Community-focused

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Kim Nakahodo deserves a place on the 2019 Traeger list because she embodies the good in local government. Kim is the first to admit that she is an unconventional local government guru, having gotten her undergraduate degree in Art and launching her career in local gov serving the City of Kansas City, MO in an art role the last thing she envisioned herself becoming was City Administrator.

However, I firmly believe the universe knew that our field needed a leader like Kim. She uses her unconventional background to approach problems in the most creative way possible and has put that creativity to good use in North Kansas City. In addition to being insanely creative, she is the most dedicated and humble person that I have ever met. I have watched her juggle communicating with residents regarding broken water mains while assessing the damage of sinkhole on a city street, she has tackled ambitious public works projects and economic development efforts without breaking a sweat, and she has spearheaded creative placemaking in the Kansas City metro providing a roadmap for surrounding communities to follow.  

While Kim has enough individual characteristics that alone would earn her a spot on the 2020 Traeger list, it is her dedication for creating pipelines for the next generation of local government leaders, building up her colleagues in the KC metro and across the country, and for making her community the best it can be that truly stand out. Kim has shown an incredible commitment to creating pipelines for future local government leaders by establishing an internship in her organization to provide exposure and mentoring her interns and anyone else who needs it along the way.

Despite the hectic schedule that is normal for an Assistant City Administrator, Kim never fails to build up her colleagues whether they’re in the KC metro or across the country. Whether that includes waking up a little earlier to grab coffee and chat with a colleague, rearranging her schedule to chat on the phone and provide advice, or being courageously honest about the difficulties we all face in her writings for ELGL. As much as Kim gives to the future and present leaders in local government, she gives even more to her community. Kim serves on a variety of board and committees in organization across the Kansas City region, such as the Clay County Economic Development Council, the Mid-America Regional Council, and the Missouri City/County Managers Association.

Additionally, she serves as a member of the Parent Teach Association in North Kansas City Schools and volunteer with Heart of America Troop 354.   Kim Nakahodo is truly one of the most exceptional people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She is a creative and dynamic leader, an empathetic and courageous colleague, and an incredibly dedicated and capable civil servant.

Through all that happens she is laser focused on building a better community and improving people’s lives and actively works towards doing so in all that she does. The vision of ELGL is to “[amplify] the good in local government” and I have no doubt that nobody does that nearly as well as Kim Nakahodo which is why she deserves a place on the 2020 Traeger list. 

Anything else to add? 

Seriously you’d be insane to not include her. 


Robin Sahid#43 – Robyn Sahid

Assistant to the City Manager, City of Santa Clara

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Joyful, capable, welcoming

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Robyn joined our organization just over a year ago, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have survived the last year without her! Beyond being an incredibly warm, funny human being, she brings a passion and optimism to her work no matter what. The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but Robyn always met the onslaught of challenges with the same question: How Can I Help? Though she stepped into a notoriously undefined role within our City, she has faced new challenges and responsibilities in her capable, often wry, persistently positive way. She is never too busy to check-in on a coworker or share a laugh (usually in the form of a meme). Even more, she still finds time to celebrate her family and explore the world in the same joyful, dedicated way she approaches her work. Our community is lucky to have someone like Robyn working behind-the-scenes to make sure that local government works for the people and meets their needs. She co-designed our Small Business Assistance Grant Program that has dispensed over $1 million to eligible small businesses (and processed hundreds of applications!), led a Charter Review Committee process and subsequent ballot measure for districting, managed contracts for one of the largest-scale development projects in our City’s history, oversees our Mayor & Council Office, and has, on more than one occasion, talked me off a local government ledge. 

Anything else to add? 

I swear Robyn is a real person and not someone I made up in a local government fever-dream. She balances delicately between levity and realism, so that her positive outlook never feels insincere or out of touch. She also gifted me a pair of pants that were too long for her once, and I felt like Dobby the House Elf, except without the weird indentured servitude vibes.


Jessica Vanderkolk#44 – Jessica VanderKolk

Communications Manager, City of Battle Creek

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

professional, passionate, proficient

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Jessica give all she has to her job during an unprecedented time. This is notable because she is able to skillfully balance work and life, when both are all consuming. Even if she doesn’t think she does. She gives so much to so many.

Anything else to add? 

The job of communications manager in local government can be thankless and cruel. Jessica does her best to see past that to recognize the importance and value of public service. I could not be a successful city manager without her relentless pursuit of communicating to our residents in meaning and transparent ways. She inspires me to do the same. 


Clarence Wittwer#45 – Clarence Wittwer

Director of Public Works, Pearland, TX

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Funny, pro-water, supportive

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

I have never met Clarence personally but love engaging with him on social media. He shares great content promoting public works, water utility, local government topics, and leadership, and is a very funny guy. He’s super supportive of ELGL members and a great like-er and share-er of our blog posts, wins, and other content. He was one of the first #localgov people to connect with me when I joined the industry. If people want lighthearted public works content with the smart insights of a veteran public servant, they should follow Clarence.


Mindy Cochran#46 – Mindy Cochran

Executive Director, Arlington Housing Authority, City of Arlington

LinkedIn | Twitter

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Innovative. Passionate. Determined.

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Mindy Cochran is an absolute delight to work with. Mindy is fearless when it comes to trying new things, especially around expanding and preserving attainable housing options in north Texas. She brings new ideas, a welcome energy, and a genuine passion for the work that she does exceptionally well.

Anything else to add? 

Mindy is always willing to help solve a problem, regardless of what it is. Thank you, Mindy, for all that you do for those you serve! We are so glad you’re in this field.


Erin Hudson#47 – Erin Hudson

Strategic Performance Manager, Town of Morrisville, NC

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Passionate, Resourceful, Responsive

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Erin joined the Town of Morrisville, NC over five years ago and currently serves as the Town’s Strategic Performance Manager.  In her role, she has jumpstarted the focus on strategic planning and has worked across the organization and alongside departments to engage others in the process.  Erin is very humble in her approach and it is apparent that she has a heart for local government.    


Rob Root#48 – Robert Root

Fire Captain, Portland Fire Department 

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Responsible, Helpful, Kind

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Robert has been working day in and day out on the various responsibilities that impact the emergency management roll given all that 2020 continues to throw. But in all of that, he’s also a Masters Candidate at the Naval Postgraduate School with the Center for Homeland Defense & Security. He has been tasked with responsibility upon responsibility but has bever shied away from helping others. He excels in his tasks, always striving to learn more, provide exceptional service to his community, and maintain meticulous organization of the needs of everyone around him. 


Catherine Bennett#49 – Catherine Bennett

Organizational Development Administrator, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government 

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Dedicated, Hardworking, Considerate

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Catherine retired from our organization last week.  She left a last legacy over 8 years of supporting the personal and professional growth of so many employees. She impacted the careers of so many and will be sorely missed. She attended the last couple ELGL conferences and saw the benefits of trying to connect all our employees to the organization. She created so many programs that will be benefiting our community and employees for years! 


Laura Mazur#50 – Laura Mazur

Strategy and Performance Analyst, Arapahoe County, CO

LinkedIn

Three words to describe the nominee: 

Collaborative, Ambitious, Hardworking

Why does the nominee deserve a 2020 Traeger Award? 

Laura Mazur has been a Strategy and Performance Analyst at Arapahoe County over the past three years. During this time, she has never shied away from a challenge, always thinking about how she can better the County. Laura manages… Recently, she launched a Performance Management Community within Arapahoe County. This Community consists of one representative from each department at the City and allows for collaboration and sharing of best practices at their quarterly meetings. Laura is always hoping to involve others at Arapahoe County in Performance Management to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.


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

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