Rafael has worked in local government for over 7 years. He joined Buncombe County, NC in 2020 as the Director of Strategy & Innovation. In his current role, he oversees special projects, process improvement, policy management, innovation, and strategic planning for the County. Rafael believes that local government can and should be a leading industry in innovation. He holds a Master of Public Administration for UNC- Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Willamette University. Rafael loves exploring new activities with his family, watching Formula 1, and playing water polo.
Amie Hendrix is Deputy County Administrator of Performance and Innovation for Tompkins County, New York. She has more than ten years of experience in local government and not-for-profit administration. Prior to her current position, Amie served as Tompkins County's Director of Youth Services where she got the reputation of being the ever optimistic, real life Leslie Knope. Amie holds a Master of Science degree in Strategic Leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Niagara University. Out of the office she can be found in the gorges of the Finger Lakes with her two labs, Ruca and Lola.
Maggie Jones, Vice Chair
Marguerite “Maggie” Jones has been in public service for more than 15 years. She joined the Tarrant County, TX team in 2016 as Assistant Director of Community Development. In her current role, she works closely with development teams to increase the availability of quality, workforce housing; collaborates with local jurisdictions on economic development efforts; engages in local policy development; assists in the oversight of federal grant programs; and actively challenges the status quo in an effort to improve the lives of others. A proud Red Raider, Maggie holds a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, both from Texas Tech University. Additionally, Maggie serves on the Parks and Recreation Board of Directors in Bedford, TX where she resides. She loves exploring new activities, watching baseball, Jeeping, hiking, biking, reading, drinking excessive amounts of coffee, and just about anything with her two boys, Zachary and Nicholas, in the great outdoors.
Warren Kagarise is the Digital Engagement Manager for King County, WA, where he leads efforts to connect the nation’s 13th-largest county with 2.2 million residents via social media and other digital tools. Warren’s career in public service started in 2013 when he served as Communications Coordinator for the City of Issaquah, WA, where he launched the city’s nationally recognized social media presence. A former journalist, Warren first became interested in public service while working as a reporter covering local governments in Washington state and Florida. In addition to his King County role, Warren is the past president of the Government Social Media Membership Council, a member of Nextdoor’s Public Agency Advisory Board, and a regular contributor to ELGL’s Morning Buzz.
Ben Kittelson, Chair
Ben Kittelson is a Senior Consultant at Raftelis where he works with local governments all across the country. He has helped run ELGL since May of 2013 and he produces and co-hosts ELGL’s GovLove Podcast. Previously he worked as a Sr. Budget & Management Analyst for three years at the City of Durham, NC and for two years at Guilford County, NC. Ben began his career in the Portland, OR region, where he served the Cities of Gresham, West Linn, and Beaverton, as well as Metro, the regional government for the Portland area. Ben has his Masters in Public Administration from Portland State University and his BA in Politics & Economics from Willamette University. Ben enjoys walking his dog, Franklin, and drinking hoppy craft beers.
In addition to the staff below, the GovLove Podcast also involves Board Member Ben Kittelson (Co-Host & Producer).
Dan Bolin, Co-Host
Dan is a Partner at the Ancel Glink Law Firm, which specializes in local government law. Dan has represented public entities and property owners in wide-ranging local government, land use, and election matters across Illinois. Dan has spent his entire legal career in local government, regularly counseling governmental clients at board and commission meetings, and managing real estate transactions and other development matters. Dan also concentrates in election law, appearing before and serving on a number of local electoral boards for challenges to candidate nominating petitions. Dan hosts Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum podcast, and he often discusses legal issues affecting local governments on GovLove. Dan earned his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law, where he served as an associate editor on the University of Illinois Law Review and earned a CALI Award in Real Estate Development.
Alyssa Dinberg, Co-Host
Michael Montgomery, Producer
Michael Montgomery currently serves as the Deputy City Council Administrator for the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Prior to his arrival in Olympic City, USA he served as the Town Administrator for the Town of Bartonville, Texas as well as the Assistant to the City Manager in Celina, Texas. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Colorado State University (Go Rams!) and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green!).
When not goving it up, he turns into his alter ego, Pizza Mike. Pizza Mike dedicates all free time to the preparation, research, and consumption of pizza.
Lauren Palmer, Co-Host
Lauren Palmer became the Director of Local Government Services for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in 2018. MARC is the regional council of governments and Metropolitan Planning Organization for the nine-county, bi-state Kansas City region. Prior to joining MARC, Lauren worked for 14 years in local government administration, including serving as city administrator in Parkville, MO and assistant city manager in Independence, MO and Manhattan, KS. She began her local government career as a Management Intern and Management Analyst in Des Moines, IA. Lauren serves on the advisory board for the Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). She was recognized as a top influencer in local government with a 2019 Traeger Award from Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Lauren has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Public Administration degree from Indiana University.
Toney Thompson, Co-Host
Toney Thompson currently works as a budget analyst for the City of Durham, North Carolina and is Co-Host of ELGL's GovLove Podcast. In his role, Toney strives to create better outcomes for citizens through public administration and policy. In addition to being a budget analyst, Toney works on several city-wide projects that help incorporate innovation and equity into city policy and practices. Prior to his current role as a budget analyst, Toney served as the ICMA Fellow for Durham City and County. Toney is originally from Columbia, South Carolina and graduated with a BA in public policy from Duke University and a Master's of Public Administration from The School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill.
Kirsten Wyatt, ELGL Co-Founder & GovLove Co-Host
Kirsten Wyatt is a co-founder of ELGL, served as ELGL's first Executive Director, and is a GovLove Co-Host. She is a Fellow with the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, building a new peer learning network for digital government leaders. She is also an elected school board member for the West Linn - Wilsonville School District.
Previously, she served as Assistant City Manager of West Linn, Oregon. Also at the city of West Linn, she was employed as the Assistant to the City Manager and the Finance Analyst. Prior to her tenure in West Linn, she served as a budget analyst for the Virginia Department of Education; as a graduate assistant with the Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and as a communications consultant with Pacific Public Affairs. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Politics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon; and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.