Katherine Takai, ICMA Project Manager

Posted on August 10, 2014

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A graduate of Carnegie Mellon with an M.S. in Public Policy and ManagementKatherine Takai is a project manager at ICMA. Her responsibilities include: managing and support several federal contracts with U.S. HUD and EPA, local governments, and private organizations and conducting research through in-depth case studies.

Katherine was driven to pursue a master’s degree to contribute to her home state of Michigan community. Katherine received an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.

(Complete these phrases) Best thing about the….



80’s was……. my Japanese American father’s Jerry Curl.

90’s was…… Mix tapes full of R&B music from Boyz II Men to Aaliyah, boy bands, and pop punk.

00’s was….. Guitar Hero and watching all ten seasons of Friends for the second time.

Last year was….. the freedom of no longer being both a full-time student and full-time professional after graduating from school!

Today is….the beautiful morning weather for the bike ride commute into work.

Tell us about three accomplishments that you are most proud of.

downloadEarning my M.S. in Public Policy & Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

My first publication in partnership with Arizona State University professor Jim Svara, “Advancing Social Equity.”

Running my first marathon.

(Complete this sentence) I feel old when I…

…..am watching tennis and see that the emerging stars were all born in the mid-1990s.

Name two or three people that would you want in your dream selfie.giphy

Rafael Nadal…and Captain Planet.  Maybe Dan Gilbert.

Tell us about two mistakes that you’ve made that we can learn from.

When I was in graduate school I spent too much time worrying about grades and not taking advantage of the brilliance in the students and faculty around me.  Don’t lose sight of your goals in an educational setting.

Feeling intimidated by those in authority because I never felt like I knew enough to speak up. You always know enough.  And if you don’t, it’s better to ask questions than stay silent.

Give us three of your favorite YouTube videos.




Our annual conference will be held in October 2014. Name three topics or speakers that should be included on the conference agenda.

  • How communities can network, learn from each other, and innovate.
  • Using behavioral economics for program and policy development.
  • Majora Carter on Eco-entreprenuership.


Parent(s) can be influential in career choices of their kids. What was the career path of your parent(s)?

Both of my parents are lifers in their careers.  My dad has been an engineer at Ford Motor Company since he graduated from the University of Michigan.  My mom has been a Medical Technologist at Henry Ford Hospital.  Both of them love their careers.

Name three of your mentors and describe them in five words.

  • Mom, Maria Takai: Feisty, goofy, positive, practical, competitive
  • Aunt, Teri Takai: Selfless, driven, powerful, organized, compassionate
  • My boss, Andrea Fox – Director, Center for Sustainable Communities at ICMA: Compassionate, cool, knowledgeable, wonky, workaholic

Your hometown…..what is it best known for?


Somerset Mall.  And the home of the K-Mart.

How can ELGL best contribute to the public sector?

Cultivate energy, innovation, and passion in the next (and current) generation of local government leaders.

Give us two items that are broken in local government.

  • (Often) a fluid, easy connection between different departments within local government.
  • (Often) an understanding of the capacity of local government in creating positive change.

Fast forward one year, what will factor into your decision on whether to renew your ELGL membership?

Great connections made and professional knowledge acquired throughout this coming year.

Give us two ideas for attracting and retaining talented individuals to the public sector.

imagesEmphasize that capacity for enacting positive, tangible change in communities – those benefits that are inherently local government.

Put local government leaders in the public eye – show them working their unique niche in bringing together stakeholders from the private sector, non-profits, community organizations, and residents.

What questions should we have asked?

  • What makes a(n) great emerging local government leader?
  • What is your favorite way to stay connected to emerging local government issues and news?  Podcasts? Youtube videos? TedTalks?  Webinars?  E-Mail updates?

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