Membership Matters: My ELGL Experience with Zach Ratkai

Posted on November 24, 2017

Link: Give the #GiftofELGL. Starting now, you can give the gift of membership – $15/students, $30/students, $300/organization.
This holiday season, ELGL members will share their ELGL experience and how membership has benefitted them professionally and personally. Sign up to write about your experience – Membership Matters.

By Zach Ratkai, Economic Development Manager – City of Richland, WA, LinkedIn and Twitter
I joined ELGL many years ago when I was in community development for a small city in Colorado. Since the time of my initial payment of dues, ELGL has proven to be the best local government professional organization I belong to.  
To be honest, my original thought with joining ELGL was to make contacts and learn more about the role of city management. I also looked at it as a great organization for young professionals. However, while I am currently working in Economic Development (with a distant eye on remaining on an executive position), and my age is still below 40 (for a couple more years at least), I have discovered that ELGL offers so much more.  
Probably the biggest aspect of ELGL that jumps out at me is the quality and attitude of its membership. With over 2,600 members, I found that each and every one is accessible, open, caring, and passionate for their job. ELGL members range from students, to local government employees of all departments, to elected officials and onward to seasoned professionals who offer great mentorship. I have not found a professional organization where everyone can find a voice, as well as a listening year. Additionally, ELGL has probably the most open and engaging founders and leadership of any local government organization and continues to gain momentum, recognition, and credibility among the more established government associations nationally. Despite the growing numbers of members, ELGL remains a great family for everyone in local government.
My favorite experience thus far was the last ELGL national conference in Detroit. ELGL17 had great attendance numbers, fantastic speakers, and great mobile tours (even a terrific downtown building tour offered at the last minute). Everyone at the conference was accepting of all members and a slew of new friendships were made. I have been to many conferences where little groups form, whether it be regional coworkers, or staffing levels, or a group of similar alumni from a school, but ELGL17 seemed to have one group—everyone. This experience was something I valued greatly and solidified my greater involvement in ELGL and passing my experience on to others in my local government realm.
So I ask you, fellow members, how does ELGL impact you? Is it something worthy of passing on? If you know someone, from a staff member to a mentor, student to seasoned professional, please “Give the Gift of ELGL” this holiday season. It will be well worth it.

Supplemental Reading

OregonianELGL works for gender equality, collaboration
Tigard Times: ELGL spreads across country
Government Technology: Podcast: From Emerging to Engaging, GovTech Highlights ELGL

StateTech: StateTech names ELGL a must-read state and local IT blog.

GovLoop: ELGL Is a Top Government Professional Association

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